Natsu Day 4 Highlights

(Bangs gavel on his desk) Order all! I am here to report that our emergency Ozeki council committee of the sumo fans organizing group has had some effect. In today’s matches, the Ozeki have finally managed to win all their matches, and are once again to be considered arch competitors. The skeptical among you may be saying, “But Bruce, how could a non existent and completely imaginary council committee, without the required fax machine, ever influence matters on the other side of the planet when most of the members were asleep or drunk?” Details, don’t distract me with details….

Several winless rikishi picked up their first white stars today, and in general it was the first really solid day of sumo for this tournament. In fact, I think I will watch it again tonight with the family.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Kotokuzan – The first of the “no wins” match up today, Azumaryu had the stronger tachiai, and immediately wanted a left hand grip. Kotokuzan defended his belt well, but could not hold his ground, allowing Azumaryu to push him back and eventually out. First win for Azumaryu, now 1-3.

Kagayaki defeats Yutakayama – Ok, maybe it’s time to have hope for Kagayaki again. He had great sumo mechanics today. He began by thrusting against center mass, then when he had opened Yutakayama up, attacked the the armpits and raised Yutakayama up. He finishes today 3-1.

Chiyotairyu defeats Midorifuji – Joining the “shonichi on day 4” crowd is dear old Chiyotairyu. A traditional “stand them up, knock them down” from him, but the kimarite assigned is the seldom seen tokkurinage, or “Two handed head twist down”.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Myogiryu – Ichiyamamoto kept pouring on the power with his thrusting attack, and prevented Myogiryu from setting up any kind of defensive foot placement or counter attack. It was 4 quick steps to the tawara, and Ichiyamamoto has a 4-0 start to Natsu.

Sadanoumi defeats Oho – Man, that speed. Sadanoumi does his typical “hopping tachiai” and has his right hand shallow before Oho can even finish his initial charge. At that point you have Sadanoumi with his hand more or less on Oho’s crotch, and you know how it’s going to turn out. 3-1 finish for Sadanoumi today.

Aoiyama defeats Meisei – I go back to wondering “what is wrong with Meisei?”, thats 3 straight losses for him. Not that Aoiyama was not bigger, better and stronger today, he certainly was, but after Meisei’s 1-14 March, it’s very worrisome to see him in a losing streak after day 1 once more. 4-0 now for Aoiyama, and he’s looking quite sharp this tournament.

Nishikigi defeats Chiyoshoma – Golly, this was all Chiyoshoma until Nishikigi managed to set up a last minute kotenage as Chiyoshoma was driving him out of the ring. A monoii and review of the footage showed it was not even close. Quite the excellent move under pressure from Nishikigi, both rikishi end the day at 2-2.

Shimanoumi defeats Okinoumi – Shimanoumi joins the shonichi club. Okinoumi had the upper hand in the early portion of this match, shutting down every offensive move Shimanoumi made. But a pulling attempt by Okinoumi opened the door, and Shimanoumi took full advantage of it, driving Okinoumi from the ring, and scoring his first win of May. Both end the day at 1-3.

Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji – The last battle of the winless sees former Ozeki Tochinoshin pick up his first win. At the tachiai it was Takarafuji who set up the superior position, locking up chest to chest in excellent defensive form. But faced with Mr Defend and Extend, Tochinoshin simply out muscled him, bucking him to the edge of the ring, and stepping him out of bounds. Tochinoshin now 1-3.

Ura defeats Kotoshoho – I love it when Ura fights like this. He ducks under Kotoshoho’s tachiai, rotates to Kotoshoho’s right front quarter, grabs for a leg, finds the mawashi instead, and gives a jolly lift. Kotoshoho’s reaction can best be described as “Hey, what?”, and then he is across the bales. Ura improves to 3-1.

Wakamotoharu defeats Terutsuyoshi – These two had some challenges getting the match started, and once they did, they chased gyoji Hisanosuke around for all they were worth. Terutsuyoshi did a pretty good job fighting in reverse, but could not escape Wakamotoharu, who is now 3-1.

Tobizaru defeats Kotoeko – Tobizaru stayed low, stayed focused, and won. He is now (really?) 4-0, and the highest ranking undefeated rikishi in the tournament. I can hear chants from the darker corners of the internet “Tobizaru yusho!” now. Should this doom come to pass, we will all need to question reality.

Hokutofuji defeats Onosho – Hokutofuji picks up his first win of the basho, catching Onosho too far forward (surprise there) and dropping him to the clay with a hikiotoshi. But never fear, dear readers, he can still easily get his make-koshi in spite of improving to 1-3.

Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – What an effort by Takanosho! I wish he could fight with that kind of sumo every day. Tamawashi had him pinned with a nodowa, but Takanosho was able to stalemate him, and endured that hand on his neck as they locked up near the edge of the ring. Eventually breaking Tamawashi’s grip, he hit reverse gear at full throttle and dumped all of his power into a shitatedashinage, sending Tamawashi tumbling into the front row. Takanosho advances to 2-2.

Daieisho defeats Wakatakakage – Daieisho had the better tachiai, launching into a thrusting combo before Wakatakakage could do anything on offense or defense. As Wakatakakage began to set his feet, Daieisho pulled him down, and it was over in the blink of an eye. A well constructed opening combo takes Daieisho to 3-1. It’s about time Daieisho had a good tournament. Points to Hiro for slipping up and calling his opponent “Wakatakakeisho”, that’s a good one. I stand by my nickname for him, “Mr Unpronounceable”, which is nearly as difficult to write out as Wakatakakage.

Abi defeats Endo – When Abi-zumo’s motozuki failed straight out of the tachiai, Abi threw everything in the fridge, the cupboard and the hall closet at Endo. Distracted by an avalanche of random, haphazard and disjointed sumo, he could not keep his feet and was driven from the ring in sheer confusion. Abi improves to 3-1, and Endo needs a stiff drink.

Takakeisho defeats Hoshoryu – Hey, that was rather inventive Takakeisho! We know your right arm is not really doing much in the thrusting game, but you got Hoshoryu off balance and used that right to send him stumbling and out. A little messy, but it’s a win, and the emergency Ozeki council committee of the sumo fans organizing group approves. Congratulations on improving to 2-2.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – THERE IT IS. Takayasu opens strong, and gives Shodai a right proper pounding. But then the actual Shodai steps in. With his heels on the tawara, he rallies, pushes Takayasu back, reverses and then we see it. The wall of daikon. Shodai picks up his first win to go to 1-3, and the emergency Ozeki council committee of the sumo fans organizing group is most pleased. I am even considering buying that fax machine in order to send congratulations to Tokitsukaze heya’s communications sub-group of their fan service committee.

Mitakeumi defeats Kiribayama – A+ effort by Kiribayama, he gave Mitakeumi quite a fight. But a giant, round bullfrog of a sumotori, Mitakeumi has rather good stamina. Kiribayama, after setting his hands, and lowering his hips, drives forward to finish Mitakeumi. This is not really a worry for the Ozeki, as Kiribayama has about 5 steps to take, plenty of time to set up his answer. When Mitakeumi unleashes the kotenage, there is nowhere for Kiribayama to go but down. The emergency Ozeki council committee of the sumo fans organizing group is now feeling celebratory, and its confetti and party hats all around. Mitakeumi improves to 2-2.

Terunofuji defeats Kotonowaka – Ok, I set aside my concerns about Terunofuji’s knees for now. Today he was strong, aggressive and took the fight to Kotonowaka. Points to Kotonowaka for keeping up the attack at first, but you can see the moment he realizes just how out-matched he is against the kaiju. Terunofuji up to 3-1 now.

7 thoughts on “Natsu Day 4 Highlights

  1. I have an important question for the Emergency Ozeki Council Committee of the Sumo Fans Organizing Group: What snacks do we have when we hold our meetings? Dumplings? Ramen? Chankonabe? Something else? This is a vital point of order that needs to be resolved!

    A 4-0 group of Tobizaru, Aoyiama, and Ichiyamamoto? Are we sure this basho isn’t a Wacky Aki Basho hidden in a trenchcoat?!

    The thing that won the bout for both Wakamotoharu and Abi is that they both moved forward quickly when their opponents were literally on their “back foot”. Abi, especially, didn’t take this advantage quick enough in previous bashos and you can almost see the “OH HECK! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” moment in his body language when he realizes what’s happening with Endo. It’s good to see skill and awareness progression like that.

    I suspect that Hoshoryu thought that he didn’t have to worry about things as much with Takakeisho because of Takakeisho’s injuries. Oooooops! The look of surprise on Hoshoryu’s face when that left hook landed pretty much says it all.

    Shodai won, but I hate to admit that it was a short burst of energy and he looked completely spent after pulling off the win. There is no way he was going to win a stamina match with Takayasu (and he probably won’t win one against anyone else at this point). He definitely had a plan today and I think he needs to do that more often going forward. It’s entirely possible that Shodai’s strategy has been “I’ll do a tachiai and go from there” previously and that just won’t work for him anymore.

    Here’s the thing about Terunofuji and his knees: If rikishi do what Kotonowaka did today and let him know what sumo is going to be used in the match literally from the first couple of steps, then he’ll be fine because he’ll play to his strengths. Daiesho caught him by surprise on Day 1 and no one else has been able to surprise him since. He can still be beaten if he’s moved laterally, but either no one has tried that without being obvious, Terunofuji hasn’t allowed that to happen, or both in his recent bouts. Kotonowaka went straight forward today with nothing else included and that spells nothing but doom when facing the Yokozuna.

  2. Today was a welcome return to the normal order of top rankers showing why they got there… except Wakatakakage and Hoshoryu. Of course, Hoshoryu had to lose for Takakeisho to win. It was a delight to see Takakeisho deploy his newest most effective technique: the giant flyswatter smack. WTK just couldn’t stand up to Daieisho’s onslaught, which might indicate he needs more seasoning before he can stick in the named ranks. And it’s clear Daieisho wants back in the sanyaku.

    Outside of the sharp end of the banzuke, the slips seemed to be back, though Onosho’s was just as much his fault for not watching Hokutofuji at all. And Kotoeko looked like he was playing violent patty cake with Tobizaru, which was fun.

  3. Hey now, who you callin’ “The darkest corners of the internet”? The spirit of Sun Wu Kong (Son Goku?), the splendid Monkey King, is strong and always ready for some skilled and delightful havoc. Are you that deeply attached to the reality we’ve got?

  4. The menu when the Emergency Ozeki Council Committee meets is Sake and Plum Wine (lot’s of both) and Sashimi.

    We continue to be in session and we are not happy with the Ozeki to date. Yes, all 3 won today but it was 100% crap sumo and not Ozeki worthy. After 4 days they are still a collective 5-7 and looking like a bunch of, at best, mid to lower level Maegashira.

    Even after excessive quantities of Sake and Plum Wine and a belly full of Sashimi we are neither pleased nor amused!!!

  5. What a basho! Almost every bout you do not know what to expect. During build up, the general story was that the young and hungry were about to dethrone the veterans. And now look at tamawashi and aoyama. And it does not end there. Ichiyamamoto on the leaderboard! Clearly, we are at the turn of the tide but the new and the old guard get nicely mixed together and we end up whit the joy of supporting the up comers and the hope the old dear ones can still make it. SO difficult to decide who to root for in any single bout.

  6. Pedantic correction: it was Takakeisho’s left arm that delivered the crucial blow to Hoshoryu. Indeed that step-to-the-side combined with a left hook/slap down is pretty much his signature move.

    I smiled at Bruce’s line about Abi today as ‘an avalanche of random, haphazard and disjointed sumo’ – there is certainly some justice in that description. But I also feel like this was Abi’s first convincing/dominant win of the tournament. He seems to have more strapping on his elbows at the moment, so there may be some minor issue there?

    Speaking of strapping… There have sometimes been grumblings and mumblings about the (presumably metal?) braces on Teru’s knees underneath all those bandages, the outlines of which become more visible when he bends the knees. But I noticed today that he also seem to have some kind of solid brace or bar thingy on both of his elbows – again the outline is visible beneath the bandages. Given the high probability of getting an elbow in the face in sumo, this seem pretty dodgy to me – like a boxer adding something solid to his/her gloves. Does Teru get some kind of special Yokozuna privilege here?

  7. Yokozuna will be under constant scrutiny from the committee, rather than such unnecessary risky privileges,
    Also with his kind of dominant and offensive sumo, he doesn’t need to pull such puny action and risk his whole career.


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