Natsu Day 10 Highlights

I could label today the “Mother of all Shimpan parades”. It seems that sumo fandom in Japan let it be know that the lax judging, crummy calls and lack of reviews of close matches were not the stuff of legends. So today we see the men in black decide that they are in fact going to be in charge and maybe supervise a bit more. The result – a lot of monoii. When in doubt, talk it out and let the chaps reviewing the replays have a second look. In general not a bad plan, but they may have over-compensated a bit today, and it really scrambled up the pacing of the top division matches.

With today’s action complete, we close out the weakest Act 2 that I can recall. We don’t really have a yusho race, we have a huge number of rikishi fighting their way through Darwin’s Funnel, and none of the Ozeki are better than a 50% win rate.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Azumaryu – This match featured a matta at the original start, which seems to have disrupted Tsurugisho’s original battle plan. He ended up with a fairly soft tachiai that gave Azumaryu a better grip. Tsurugisho dug in and managed to work into a double inside grip, and proceeded to over power Azumaryu with some simple but effective sumo. Tsurugisho improves to 7-3, and I would guess will make a bid to return to the top division for Nagoya in July. He finishes 7-3.

Myogiryu defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan had zero offense today, giving Myogiryu complete control of the match, and a quick win. Myogiryu improves to 5-5 to remain in the middle of the funnel.

Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – Midorifuji does yeoman’s work and knocks “Big Dan” Aoiyama out of the leader group. That was quite the opening combo from Midorifuji, who hit at the tachiai, grabbed over Aoiyama’s shoulder (he had to reach up quite a bit) and pulled down. The resulting katasukashi spun Aoiyama to the clay, giving Midorifuji his 6th win to finish act 2 at 6-4.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma had a good tachiai, but as Kagayaki landed his second thrust combo against Chiyoshoma’s chest, Chiyoshoma tried to pull Kagayaki forward. That tossed aside any forward pressure, and opened the door to Kagayaki just running him out of the ring. Both end the day 4-6.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kotoshoho – Ichiyamamoto nearly lost this at the tachiai, where he ended up stumbling forward a single step when Kotoshoho deflected his opening move. Kotoshoho responded with power, but with Ichiyamamoto to his side, he tossed Kotoshoho forward and then delivered the finishing push center mass. That’s kachi-koshi for Ichiyamamoto, and he remains part of the leader group.

Tochinoshin defeats Sadanoumi – Really impressive defense from Sadanoumi in this match. Given how incredibly strong Tochinoshin is, and he was able to go chest to chest at the tachiai, its a tall order to break out of his grip. Tochinoshin found on his third finishing attempt the leverage to swing Sadanoumi around to walk him out of the ring. There was a monoii to review Tochinoshin’s feet just prior to the win, but the judges up held the decision. Tochinoshin improves to 6-4.

Shimanoumi defeats Yutakayama – It must be damn frustrating to fight as Yutakayama this May. He had a strong opening, and landed multiple solid hits. But Shimanoumi stayed in bound, on his feet and fighting. Eventually Shimanoumi locked up with Yutakayama in the center of the ring, and went to wear Yutakayama down. Shimanoumi got a left hand hazu, right hand mawashi grip, and rolled Yutakayama into an uwatenage for the win. He’s now 6-4.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Meisei – Terutsuyoshi executed something a lot like a henka at the tachiai. I hesitate to call it a henka because your normal henka is a bit more organized than whatever that was. It worked out well enough, bamboozling Meisei and giving Terutsuyoshi a wide open attack lane. Terutsuyoshi dropped him a moment later to stave off make-koshi for today, and improve to 3-7.

Oho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji really had no sumo today, and provided little more than ballast for Oho’s thrusting attacks. Takarafuji is clearly hurt, and not able to hold ground at all, and was quickly shoved out. Oho advances to 5-5 and remains in the middle of the funnel.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – Chiyotairyu attempts a hearty serving of denshamichi, ends up face down with Kotoeko flying westward. The gumbai went to Chiyotairyu, but it seems the shimpan have been rightly embarrassed by poor performance, and are calling more review sessions. So it was monoii time. Review showed Kotoeko out while Chiyotairyu was still in flight, so Chiyotairyu takes the win to finish the day 6-4.

Ura defeats Nishikigi – Ura had to know that Nishikigi would grapple straight into the tachiai. He also (like me) saw the katasukashi combo Midorifuji pulled off earlier in the day and thought “hey, that’s pretty cool”. So we get to see Ura execute more or less the same opening combo against Nishikigi. No surprise it worked just as well here as it did against Aoiyama, and Ura improves to 7-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Okinoumi – Wakamotoharu’s left hand inside at the tachiai gave him control of the match, and he only needed 3 steps to walk Okinoumi back, and place him out of the ring. Fast work for Wakamotoharu, and he ends the day 6-4.

Takanosho defeats Endo – Endo opened strong, but seemed to pause for an awkward moment, which let Takanosho regroup and begin the counter attack. With good focus of power against Endo’s center mass, he took control of the match and quickly ran Endo out of the ring. Takanosho picks up his 8th win, is kachi-koshi, and maintains his share of the leader board.

Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Big, aggressive sumo from both today. Tamawashi really delivered a lot of attack power, but points to Kotonowaka for taking the punishment and returning a lot of of it to Tamawashi. If you wanted to see two big guys basho the stuffing out of each other, this was the match. But in a deft move, Kotonowaka converted a Tamawashi forward surge into a quick trip to the clay, as he threw down Tamawashi to claim his 6th win. Both end the day 6-4.

Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Daieisho found himself overpowered at the tachiai, as Takayasu launched forward. The best Daieisho could do was turn to the side and pull with everything he could muster. They both went flying off the dohyo and the gumbai went to Daieisho. Of course with the embarrassment level near maximum for the shimpan, they were going to review this one too, so up on the dohoyo they went. Review showed Takayasu down first, giving Daieisho his 6th win to finish the day 6-4, and Takayasu his 8th loss to be make-koshi at 8-2 for Natsu.

Kiribayama defeats Abi – Kiribayama took a couple of big hits at the start of the match, but kept his feet, kept his balance as best he could, and positioned himself to dodge as much of Abi’s attacks as he could manage. Kiribayama’s evasion opened up a chance with Abi off axis and off balance, and Kiribayama slapped him down. He ends the day 7-3.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Well, an immediate pull at the tachiai is a sure fire losing formula today for Takakeisho. He gets a rapid combo to the chest from Hokutofuji for his troubles, and is quickly pushed out of the ring. Hokutofuji staves off make-koshi for another day and improves to 3-7.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – I guess I should note that Shodai at least tried to rally after Wakatakakage completely dominated him for the first few moments of the match. But for whatever reason, Shodai could not muster the wall of daikon today, or any cartoon sumo, though you can see him try. Wakatakakage gently placed him outside of the ring to advance to 5-5.

Mitakeumi defeats Tobizaru – At least one of the Ozeki scored a win today. But it was Tobizaru who was the clear aggressor in the opening moments of the match, getting a right hand inside, and making Mitakeumi give ground. Once Tobizaru had a firm hold on Mitakeumi, he found that was not quite what he wanted after all. Mitakeumi consolidated his grip, positioned his feet and finished Tobizaru off. Both end the day at 5-5.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Yes, I know Terunofuji looks a bit more unstable each day, but I found his resounding yoritaoshi of Hoshoryu both glorious and comforting. It’s the kind of finishing move worthy of this match, and it’s especially fun given the overflowing attitude on display day 9 from Hoshoryu. It’s as if the Yokozuna wanted to communicate, “Here kid, let me show you how we take out the trash at Isegahama”. Terunofuji improves to 7-3, one win behind the leaders.

6 thoughts on “Natsu Day 10 Highlights

  1. Hokutofuji will not earn his title today! It seems to me that he really focuses in the more kensho envelopes are on the line, as well as rising to the challenge of facing the higher rankers.

    Mono-ii central today. Obviously, the rest of the sumo world saw the problems that were laid bare yesterday and decided to be more proactive for once.

    Whoever is playing sumo bingo this basho, it seems to finally be time to start paying attention to our cards.

  2. Takakeisho’s fighting injured again. Goddammit.

    Hoshoryu went for the inside leg trip at least a couple of times and Terunofuji was having none of it.

  3. Apparently, Abi doesn’t have a solution to someone getting up close around his elbows and jamming their hands in his armpits yet. I don’t blame him, because that’s a rough situation for someone who does his style of sumo. Nice work by Kiribayama today.

    Takakeisho tried to lift and shove Hokotofuji with his right arm and didn’t have enough strength to move him. That’s literally why he lost. Sad to see and it makes me worried for his future.

    I also realized today that one of the reasons we’ve seen a “talent dropoff” recently for rikishi that we haven’t metioned yet is we’ve lost or had various rikishi get caught up in scandals who were creating the “bridge” between the last set of seasoned, talented Sanyaku rikishi and wherever we end up in the future. Asanoyama, Abi, and Ryuden, are some examples. Having them be a lower rank throws everything out of whack when they’re competing because they skew the records in the lower divisions until they get back up to a rank where they’re challenged. Not having them compete at all allows less talented rikishi to maintain a higher rank than they would otherwise.

    • Interesting idea, but I think those who are longer in the tooth (certainly those who have followed longer than me) may be less convinced, and might say that scandals and suspensions have long been part of sumo, it’s maybe just that this current edition landed on some of the very few current relevant names. Ryuden, who’s in his 30s, hadn’t really been a factor in the upper half of the division (only fought two basho ever above Maegashira 5 and not successfully), so I don’t know if you can consider him part of that bridge. Asanoyama’s career was definitely derailed due to the length of the suspension and I agree he definitely infused quality at the top end of the division. Of the three you’d say he’s the one that if he had been forced to retire, sumo would definitely be poorer for his absence.

      Wakanoho and Roho were dismissed from the sport entirely for their actions while in the joi (with better track records than Ryuden, some might say), and while sumo was undoubtedly poorer for the premature loss of Asashoryu, that certainly didn’t prevent a high level of consistent performance from other talents (even if Hakuho himself won more titles, more easily, in the interim). The 60th Yokozuna was forced to retire at the age of 24, and I don’t think that impacted the sport nearly as much as it would if, say, Takakeisho went intai now – never mind Terunofuji! There are those who might recall that sumo as a sport wasn’t held back by the baseball betting scandal (which cost Goeido a demotion), and some people might even say that the yaocho scandal accelerated the careers of many future sekitori mainstays.

      The argument would be that in a healthy sport, that has a true “heaven and hell” line, there are going to be those below the line constantly improving themselves out of desperation to take and retain that place in the salaried ranks. I think the story might actually be that in the absence of Abi, Ryuden, Asanoyama, there were very few who displayed the ability to step up, take those places and make them theirs (although Wakatakakage is encouraging).

      On average, more than once a year some top sekitori does something stupid and gets suspended. It’s practically priced into the lifestyle and the sport. While it’s a small factor, I think it can be argued we’re noticing the difference just as much because of widespread talent, coaching and injury issues.

  4. Sumo today
    Best performance – Kiribayama
    Best Bout – Shimanoumi vs Yutakayama
    Upset – Kotonowaka vs Tamawashi

  5. People say to me: Opus, you have been a follower of Sumo for a long time but so far as we can see it is just overweight men in loin-clothes. Please explain Sumo to us.

    I reply: I don’t understand the Banzuke committee’s reasoning, the fixtures committee’s reasonings, the decision of the Gyoji or those of the Shimpans. Is there anything then I am then asked that you do grasp. Certainly I reply there is: Shodai will always go Kadoban, Tobizaru will always run out of the Kokugikan and Terutsuyoshi will spill Tokyo’s months supply of salt.

    Inscrutable they murmur shaking their heads and wandering off.

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