The Nagoya basho is in the record books now, and it was Hakuho who took the cup after the final match. The 45th yusho of his career, he continues to defy all expectations, including (it seems) some of his own. Following a hard fought battle against Terunofuji, we saw a brief flash of elation, a fist pump, a shout, and a smile of victory. There are some sumo fans who will find his behavior unacceptable, but as a fully fledged barbarian who loves sumo, it made me shout and smile myself.
He is literally peerless in the world of sumo, and possibly in the world of individual athletic competition. 45 championships. This basho marks 14 years since his first appearance of Yokozuna. He has out lasted all of his contemporaries (Harumafuji, Kakuryu, Kisenosato). He endured orthopedic surgery 4 months ago that would have left most people hobbling for a year, and came back and beat everyone he faced.
I personally thought the basho would be too much for him to endure, and his body would give up under the grind, but he managed all 15 days, and took home the cup yet again. Some may ask, “But what is he going to do with all of that beef?” (from one of the prizes). I am certain Hokuseiho will eat most of it.
Congratulations to Yokozuna Hakuho, you again prove that you are some kind of bio-engineered sumo machine sent from the future to collect giant macarons.
Ishiura defeats Akua – Ishiura double arms Akua at the tachiai, as Akua’s opening gambit to get a right hand on Ishiura’s mawashi fails. Ishiura is rewarded with an inside lane, and drives hard to the front, running Akua quickly out. He ends Nagoya 9-6.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyonoo – The first Darwin match goes to Ichiyamamoto, as Chiyonoo loses defensive foot placement, attempts a throw that disintegrates, and gets shoved out. Ichiyamamoto is kachi-koshi, and will remain in the top division, further reducing promotion prospects from Juryo.
Kotonowaka defeats Tsurugisho – Kotonowaka gets to 12 wins, and picks up the Fighting Spirit special prize, and generally finally shows us the kind of sumo that we had expected from him from the past year. I am not sure if has been injury, or mental challenges, but this is the kind of sumo that Kotonowaka is capable of, and I hope he can continue to compete at this level of excellence. Well done sir!
Hidenoumi defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru had nothing to offer today in terms of defense, save being incredibly large and round. It took Hidenoumi a few moments to get his hands and hips set, but he found he could move forward and took Chiyomaru over the bales. Hidenoumi ends Nagoya 7-8.
Aoiyama defeats Kaisei – The battle of the mega-fauna was over quickly, with Aoiyama getting Kaisei turned to the side with that left hand, and he then shoves and pushes Kaisei from the side to send him out. Aoiyama ends Nagoya 7-8.
Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Somehow Chiyoshoma just gave up on sumo and wanted to slap Ura around. It was quite useless as Ura attacked inside anyway. Chiyoshoma panics, tries to pull, and Ura runs him out. Some concern that Ura’s knee seemed a bit painful following the match, but what a finish. 10-5 for his return to the top division. Watch out above, here comes trouble.
Myogiryu defeats Daiamami – Myogiryu’s first surge forward from the tachiai comes up short, but he consolidates his position and attacks again. The second combo works, taking Daiamami out of his defensive position, and Myogiryu picks up a much needed 5th win to finish Nagoya 5-10.
Kiribayama defeats Shimanoumi – I am not sure where that version of Kiribayama was, but it’s nice to see his old, super genki form that got him to the top division. He ends Nagoya at 9-6 with a fast yoritaoshi.
Onosho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi attempts a hit and shift at the tachiai, banking that Onosho would be off balance into the initial clash. But it seems that Onosho was quite prepared for this predictable move, and attacks with vigor. Terutsuyoshi, having gambled on the mini-henka has no defensive position, and absorbs Onosho’s battering as best he can before a final shove ends his efforts. Onosho finishes Nagoya 7-8.
Tokushoryu defeats Chiyotairyu – When this match went chest to chest, it was pretty clear just where it was going to end. We have seen Tokushoryu pull that move at the bales countless times. One fan refers to it as his “super power”. I was glad to see it on display again, but that is how you get Chiyotairyu ending the basho at 4-11.
Tochinoshin defeats Kotoeko – Color me impressed. Tochinoshin found some reserve of pain tolerance and rallied from a terrible start to finish with a mild 7-8 make-koshi. But I have to mention that Kotoeko, deeply make-koshi at 2-12, poured on everything he could muster. My heart goes out to him, as he gave it everything he could muster.
Tobizaru defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi’s opening salvo only partially connects, and it fails to move Tobizaru back. In response, Tobizaru gets a double inside grip and goes on the attack. Try as he might, Tamawashi can’t shake Tobizaru, or turn the match to his control. Tobizaru, for his part, remains patient and sets up the winning throw well. Hey, where were you the prior 14 days?
Hoshoryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hoshoryu gets to double digits with a solid win over Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji comes in low, probably too low, and is ripe for a slap down, which Hoshoryu delivers with precision.
Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Ichinojo makes it to 10 with a quick win over Takarafuji. Takarafuji tries to step back and draw Ichinojo into Takarafuji’s defensive sumo, but instead Ichinojo slaps him down – hard! This is the first double digit performance from Ichinojo since March of 2019.
Takanosho defeats Chiyonokuni – The second Darwin match, and a contrast of oshi-sumo styles. Takanosho was relentless against Chiyonokuni’s center-mass, while Chiyonokuni was solely focused on Takanosho head and face. Key tip, if you can endure the bashing to your head, center-mass will carry the match. Takanosho ends Nagoya 8-7 and is kachi-koshi.
Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – As if to punctuate the point above, Daieisho blows past Okinoumi’s defenses and drives thrust after thrust into Okinoumi’s chest. Its about 7 steps forward and Okinoumi is out. Both end Nagoya with deep 5-10 make-koshi scores.
Meisei defeats Kagayaki – The third Darwin match goes to Meisei, who is kachi-koshi to end Nagoya. This match was 100% Kagayaki’s offense with a lot of thrusting power, but Meisei timed Kagayaki’s final finishing charge expertly and stepped out of the way, sending Kagayaki to the clay.
Wakatakakage defeats Mitakeumi – Brilliant reversal by Wakatakakage as Mitakeumi pressed forward to shove him out. Glad to see Wakatakakage finish with at least one strong match, he ends Nagoya at 5-10.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – The final Darwin match, Takayasu opened with a left hand outside grip, and Shodai returns with his own inside grip. Takayasu attempts to rotate into a throw, but can’t maintain the grip. With his back now turned to Shodai, he tries to escape, but Shodai pushes him out from behind to escape kadoban, finishing Nagoya with and 8-7 kachi-koshi.
Hakuho defeats Terunofuji – The grand finale, the brawl to end it all. They spent a good amount of time staring daggers at each other prior to the tachiai. This turned into Hakuho’s match the moment Terunofuji reacted to Hakuho’s attacks. The Boss really had to work for it, and that little celebration at the end? It has sumo fans around the world talking. Its a bit uncharacteristic for a Yokozuna, but given all that Hakuho has been through, maybe understandable. I don’t think he was certain he could pull it off. Hakuho finishes Nagoya at 15-0, a perfect score and his 45th yusho.
That concludes our daily coverage of the Nagoya basho. Thank you dear readers for sharing our love of sumo, and following along through what has been a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable tournament. We will continue to follow the stories that come out of this basho, including the expected announcement of Terunofuji’s promotion to the 73rd Yokozuna.