Nagoya Day 5 Highlights

Act 1 of the basho is complete, and only 2 men remain undefeated: Hakuho and Terunofuji. This is precisely the outcome most fans were hoping to see, and we start to get a whiff of the tension that should continue into the middle weekend. Both area far from top physical shape given their injuries, but both are driven to dominate each match and incredibly tough, and unwilling to let something like a bum knee stop them from winning each day. Both of them understand that they are being carried toward what all the fans hope is a day 15 show down, possibly for not just the Emperor’s cup, but the final verdict on Terunofuji to add one more impossible accomplishment to his already improbable redemption.

In the early hours of day 5, it was announced that Endo had joined the kyujo list, after injuring his left leg. Given the doctor’s directive of 3 weeks recovery, he is unlikely to return. Mitakeumi picks up the fusensho to advance to 4-1.

Highlight Matches

Ichiyamamoto defeats Tokushoryu – The obligatory two hand neck attack at the tachiai from Ichiyamamoto led to a pulling opportunity that surprisingly worked for once against Tokushoryu, who seems to have had a poor step in there somewhere. Ichiyamamoto advances to 4-1.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyonokuni shook off Tsurugisho’s big hit at the tachiai, and turned on the power. A strong left hand to face prompted Tsurugisho to try to respond in kind. Chiyonokuni stepped aside and slapped with his right to bring Tsurugisho to the clay. Chiyonokuni joins the group at 4-1.

Ishiura defeats Daiamami – I am happy to see some solid Ishiura sumo today, and it brought him a much needed win. He had excellent lateral motion, getting to the side of Daiamami and putting him on “spin” before dropping him to the clay like a sack of potatoes with a kirikaeshi. Ishiura improves to 2-4.

Chiyonoo defeats Kagayaki – Chiyonoo gets close and has both hands inside one step past the tachiai, disabling Kagayaki’s preferred thrusting attack. Kagayaki tried to force Chiyonoo back, but that just devolved into a belly bumping contest that Chiyonoo dominated, raising Kagayaki up and putting him across the tawara. Chiyonoo improves to 2-3.

Kotonowaka defeats Ura – Ura’s submarine tachiai is not working well at all thus far in July, and most of his opponents are able to blunt its effects. Ura is hard pressed to come up with much offense from that position if he does not end the tachiai inside his opponent’s reach. Today its Kotonowaka who shuts it down, then send Ura tumbling into the zabuton. Kotonowaka improves to 4-1.

Chiyomaru defeats Kaisei – In this battle of the mega-fauna, Chiyomaru got in the first attack, and it worked well. The thrusting under the chin raised up Kaisei, and Chiyomaru made short work to send him back and out to improve to 2-3.

Tochinoshin defeats Terutsuyoshi – I am delighted to see Tochinoshin pick up his first win before the end of act 1. He is still in grim shape, but fears of him ending July winless are now gone. Sure it’s was a cheap ass henka, but I would expect Terutsuyoshi to be ready for that one, given Tochinoshin can’t actually do much sumo in his physical state.

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi – Aoiyama stayed much lower than he typically does, and expertly exploited a pull attempt from Tamawashi, giving the Mongolian a hearty blast from the V-Twin to propel him back and out. Aoiyama improves to 2-3.

Takarafuji defeats Shimanoumi – I love to see how Takarafuji shuts down his opponent, and works to keep himself in the center of the dohyo, and his opponent attack from the outside to the middle. By dominating the middle of the ring, he grants himself control of the match, and when he does this, he tends to win. Points to Shimanoumi, who knew exactly what Takarafuji was up to, and fought him for every inch, hand and foot. Both men got low on stamina, and broke their deadlock at the center, with Takarafuji applying a tsukiotoshi to improve to 3-2.

Hidenoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma lost this match with a moment of poor balance and stability when Hidenoumi connected with a sharp left to Chiyoshoma’s shoulder. Hidenoumi improves to 3-2.

Hoshoryu defeats Myogiryu – Solid, commanding grappling sumo from Hoshoryu today. He took control early and danced Myogiryu round until Myogiryu had had enough and was escorted out. Hoshoryu’s sumo is looking better than ever right now, and he improves to 4-1.

Kiribayama defeats Okinoumi – Kiribayama got the edge at the tachiai, and converted that into a left hand inside grip. Okinoumi defended well, and shut down at least 2 attempts by Kiribayama to lift him up and send him out. Okinoumi rallied, and marched Kiribayama out, but stepped across the tawara as he shifted his opponent out. A monoii reversed Kimura Konosuke’s gumbai and gave the win to Kiribayama. Kiribayama improves to 4-1.

Onosho defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu attempts his traditional blast and pull at the tachiai, and Onosho is well prepared to receive. As Chiyotairyu starts to pull, Onosho dials up the pushing power, and runs Chiyotairyu out in a hurry. Onosho improves to 2-3, and Chiyotairyu is 1-4, and in desperate need of better sumo choices.

Takanosho defeats Kotoeko – Takanosho’s tachiai had a few problems, his head was down, and he did not follow Kotoeko’s shift to the left. But Takanosho managed to get a left hand inside, and halted Kotoeko’s advance. Kotoeko attempted to rally, but received a slap down from Takanosho as Kotoeko charged forward. That’s a first win for Takanosho, as he improves to 1-4.

Daieisho defeats Wakatakakage – Wow, Wakatakakage had at least 3 escapes in that loss to Daieisho. Daieisho had his mega-thrust dialed up to “murder”, and was moving at speed against Wakatakakage. Even thought Wakatakakage lost that one, I am quite impressed how well he moved and kept himself in the match. Daieisho picks up a well earned first win, improving to 1-4.

Meisei defeats Takayasu – Takayasu picks up his first loss of the tournament as Meisei effectively disrupts Takayasu’s attack plan, then upsets his foot work, disrupting his balance, and then unleashes a really nifty katasukashi (under shoulder swing down) to roll Takayasu to the clay. Meisei advances to 2-3.

Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji started low, with a solid tachiai, getting his hands more or less where he like to place them at the start of a match. As Terunofuji counter-attacked, Hokutofuji tried twice to pull the Ozeki down, neither attempt finding any success. Really impressed with Terunofuji’s ability to absorb all of that, and not just stay in the match but to stay on offense. Terunofuji set up and rapidly delivered a blistering kotenage that sent Hokutofuji to the clay. He remains undefeated at 5-0.

Tobizaru defeats Shodai – I had to watch this match a couple of times, as it features Tobizaru rapidly switching from push to pull to grab and tug and back to push again. It completely shut down any kind of offense Shodai wanted to deliver, and in the end I think Shodai went out just to make it end. I am starting to worry about Shodai at 2-3 headed into the middle weekend.

Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – Anyone else notice the appliance under Hakuho’s knee bandage today? I am not sure I saw that on prior days. But it raises the question: How does a one legged man beat a giant in a fight? Hakuho did not seem to try and run any power through that right knee, but managed to yorikiri a nearly 200kg boulder with apparent ease. He remains undefeated at 5-0.

16 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 5 Highlights

  1. I would love to see one of those Win Probability statistical graphs they use for some team sports, applied to the Wakatakakage v. Daieisho match. It would look like a polygraph readout for a particularly bad liar. Each rikishi was completely done for at least twice (it seemed) prior to the actual conclusion of the bout.

    • :0)

      My impression of the bout was the complete opposite to Bruce’s – I couldn’t believe Daieisho actually won. But rewatching it yes both of them looked out of it.

  2. I don’t want to sound rude but what is Chiyotairyu doing in professional sumo fighting like this? Every single day it’s the same 1-2 seconds of ineffectiv tsuppari followed by a pull that everyone saw coming from a mile away. You really wonder how a former komusubi and longtime veteran can fight this badly…

  3. I am not worried about Wakatakakage even though his record isn’t that great. As Bruce stated, he is fighting in every match with gusto and he’s learning as he goes. Even if he ends with a losing record I don’t see him dropping that far unless he gets a catastrophic number of losses. His first week is also harder than his second week, so we’ll see how he does then.

    As soon as Hokotofuji started trying to physically push Terunofuji that match was over. I hope other rikishi are taking notes. Move The Kaiju laterally instead of attempting to move him backwards. Doing the latter only leads to your doom.

    The interesting thing about Hakuho is that he isn’t fighting with the same strategy in every match. I suspect the knee brace we saw today won’t be there tomorrow unless The Boss wants to wrangle another opponent like he had to do today against The Boulder. Being unpredictable is one of the most important things for Hakuho to do at this point, so we’ll see what he pulls out of his hat tomorrow.

    • There’s nothing new on his knee – he’s got what seems to be one of those soft knee sleeves with a hole for the kneecap. When you bandage that, it looks like you’ve got a disk on top of your kneecap. I’ve checked all his bouts from this basho, and it seems apparent to me that he’s had the same thing on the whole time (it looks more prominent on some days than others).

  4. Looking at the leader board 5 days in I understand why Kitanofuji had a hissy-fit in his recent article:

    5-0 Yokozuna Hak – Mongolian
    5-0 Ozeki T-Rex – Mongolian
    4-1 West Sekiwake Mitakeumi – Japanese
    4-1 West Maegashira #5 Hoshoryu – Mongolian
    4-1 West Maegashira #6 Kiribayama – Mongolian
    4-1 East Maegashira #10 Tamawashi – Mongolian
    4-1 West Maegashira #11 Kotonowaka – Japanese
    4-1 East Maegashira #16 Chiyonokuni – Japanese
    4-1 East Maegashira #17 Ichiyamamoto – Japanese

    After Mitakeumi you have to go all the way down the leader board to West Maegashira #11 in order to find another Japanese contender, are you kidding me? No wonder Kitanofuji’s head is about to explode.

    I’ll concede that we’re down 2 Ozeki (one due to injury and one due to being a moron) but where is No-Dai holding up his end of the Ozeki load. Oh yea, that’s right, he sucks and is another epic failure who needs constant propping up and the purchase of wins in order to keep his rank.

    The old boys in the JSA must be losing their collective shizit right about now. When you have one Japanese Sekiwake and a bunch of low rank Japanese Maegashira, including a rookie, hauling the mail for the Japanese side it’s tough to keep the Japanese fans interested and engaged not to mention putting butts in seats and TV ratings.

    These for sure ain’t the glory days for the JSA, Japanese fans, and Japanese wrestlers.

    • When the Japanese learn to lose their ego, that is the day things will look better for them. Japan is perhaps #1 when it comes to racism. For nearly 250 years the Japanese thought they were so superior to the outside world that they banned any foreigner from entering the country except for one isolated trading post for the Dutch. Then an American warship showed up on their shores in the 19th century and showed them how far behind the times they were.

      • Sorry, the Japanese policy of excluding foreigners was extremely prudent. It would have benefited many other cultures, such as the Aztecs, Inca, original Australians, and India, China, Indonesia, and Africa. It isn’t the people who stay home who are racists, its the ones who travel and impose their own culture in the countries they conquer.

  5. Also, the loss to Meisei marks the end of whatever phantom promotion hope Takayasu may have had.

  6. Hakuho faked a shitatenage to open up space for a left-hand makikae, and then, as noted by Murray Johnson, did some magic hip wiggles to get set. Next, peculiarly, he let go with his inside right and pushed up on Ichinojo’s stomach near where a shallow grip would go; they both bounced up a bit so I don’t think it actually gained him any positional advantage. He regained his deep inside right and then it’s actually Ichinojo who attempts a kotenage; Hakuho instantly started his drive in response to the release of pressure and that was all she wrote. You can tell Hakuho still doesn’t have any breakpads left though — instead of doing the textbook deep squat at the rope he flings Ichinojo off the dohyo to bleed off his forward momentum and then does a weird little hop to the side to keep from going off himself.

  7. One thing to note is after the henka you can watch Tochinoshin actually struggle to just get his footing. His legs are so bad that after the movement he’s struggling to maintain his balance and keep upright. That’s a horrible, horrible sign, not just for his career but his life after sumo. He’s gotten so far on that husk of a knee but now everything else has given up as well. It’d be an incredible shame if the damage he’s powered through results in him having to use walking aids just to move around.

  8. coreyyanofsky, above, has already brilliantly described Hakuho’s moves to beat Ichinojo. But it is also worth bearing in mind that Hakuho was running PsyOps against Ichi before the bout had even started to induce those two Mattas. You could almost see the Yokozuna mind-rays beaming out of his eyes and scrambling poor Ichi’s brain!

    Ichiyamamoto is really looking good right now. If and when he and Abi ever meet in the top division it may result in a rupture to the space-time continuum as the dopplegangers try to perform exactly the same double-armed, nodowa attack against each other – like matter and anti-matter, or something… (Abi is still slicing through those lower Juryo ranks like the proverbial hot knife through butter, so we may not have to wait too long.)

  9. Ura’s return to makuuichi has been a let-down. What I’m seeing from him so far doesn’t match up with the memories I have of one of him being one of the most exciting rikishi. in sumo. I’m glad for his sake that he’s back, but it seems like he’s lost what made him special.

  10. Both Takayasu and Tsurugisho bout were very weird in the same way. Both of them dive forward totally unprovoked looking to the right, when their opponent i standing to the left. It’s like closing your eyes and hoping that something good will happen …
    Wakatakakage vs Daieisho was a great match. Very entertaining an on a knife’s edge the whole time.

    Hoshoryu continues to impress. Always a solid match plan and always a solid execution. If he continues that sumo he will probably earn a ticket for a Hakuho match. I’m sure he would be quite happy about that.

    Shodai started solid into the tournament and now turned into the biggest dissapointment. Totally no fight in him today.

  11. I mean, this fan wanted Terunofuji, Hakuho, AND Takakeisho undefeated at this point but I’ll take what I can get.


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