Three matches of consequence today, Takayasu vs Hoshoryu, Wakatakakage vs Hokutofuji, and Tobizaru vs Tamawashi, which shaped the yusho race that will finish on day 15. They were all quick, and borderline brutal. I think the big news for me out of day 14 is that Wakatakakage’s second Ozeki run is now open for business. He’s at double digits, and could finish 11-4 if he can best speed demon Sadanoumi in his final match. I think if he can get rid of his habitual cold starts, we are actually seeing near Yokozuna grade sumo out of Wakatakakage at this point. Depending on how long Terunofuji is rehabbing that knee, and the continued weakness in the Ozeki corps, there is probably a promotion lane open. I would very much love to see a new Yokozuna some time in 2023, I think it would be good for sumo, and good for the fans. It would also take a lot of pressure off of Terunofuji, who needs to feel like he can take a break and mend his body when it gets in a state like it was this September. Could be the case if young Wakatakakage can start tournaments strong. Let’s hope he solves that puzzle.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Hiradoumi – Happy to see Terutsuyoshi finally get one of his ashitori leg pick attempts to pay off. It’s pretty spectacular when it works. He knocks Hiradoumi to 7-7, and misses kachi-koshi yet again. Terutsuyoshi improves to 6-8.
Chiyoshoma defeats Yutakayama – When Chiyoshoma plants that right hand outside grip, you have to know he is setting up his beloved uwatenage. He wiggles in to get the right body position, and make sure he has Yutakayama as tall as possible, then pivots and slams him to the clay. I will be thrilled if Chiyoshoma can hit double digits this September. He’s up to 9-5 after today.
Chiyotairyu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Some sports fans revel at champions who can “dig deep” and expand their dominance. I tend to admire atheletes that are busted, broken and in a deep hole, yet somehow manage to push through the problems and recover as best they can. In spite of having a terrible start, probably due to injuries, Chiyotairyu has now won 5 of his last 6 matches. I think Ichiyamamoto was waiting for the slap down attempt, and so he tried his own, only to find Chiyotairyu plowing him into the ringside fans. Chiyotairyu advances to 6-8.
Ryuden defeats Takanosho – Takanosho maintained a nodowa for most of the match, but Ryuden decided that was not going to stop him from giving his opponent a personal meeting with the head shimpan. Ryuden runs up the score to double digits to celebrate his return to the top division, and is now 10-4.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoshoho – Myogiryu was offense to begin, but I compliment Kotoshoho on being able to break contact, and take initiative in the second stage of this match. But Kotoshoho was unable to keep his eye and his focus on Myogiryu’s center mass, and did not see him shift to his right, sending Kotoshoho tumbling off of the dohyo. Myogiryu picks up his kachi-koshi at 8-6 to end day 14. Kotoshoho heads off to a day 15 Darwin match.
Tochinoshin defeats Tsurugisho – The look of agony on Tsurugisho’s face. Man, just go kyujo already. Tochinoshin wins as gently as possible, improving to 6-8.
Aoiyama defeats Mitoryu – So now, Aoiyama can do powerful forward sumo? Glad he’s got it working for him, just wish it had been there earlier in the basho. Aoiyama grabs a meaty double handful and pushes forward, taking Mitoryu out three steps later. Both end the day 5-9.
Wakamotoharu defeats Oho – For the fourth day in a row, Oho loses and fails to complete his 8. So now he gets a day 15 Darwin match. Congrats, you earned it. Oho started strong, but did not keep his hips square to his opponent, and Wakamotoharu shifted to his right just a bit, and lowered the off balance Oho to the clay. Wakamotoharu 9-5, and could hit double digits as well.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka put his focus on an armpit attack against Sadanoumi, and it worked pretty well at first. But Sadanoumi’s agility and speed meant he was able to break contact. Kotonowaka stayed in control, but not enough to win. The match was lost when Kotonowaka tried to hold his ground and passivate Sadanoumi, but Sadanoumi rushed forward with all that power, and broke Kotonowaka’s stance, sending him over the bales. Sadanoumi improves to 9-5.
Meisei defeats Okinoumi – Well, Okinoumi lost his footing on the second step, and Meisei was able to convert that into a solid oshidashi, even as he himself stumbled about. Okinoumi picks up his 8th loss and is make-koshi, while Meisei heads off to a day 15 Darwin match.
Tamawashi defeats Tobizaru – Traditional Tamawashi shinkansen-denshamichi sumo. Konosuke could not even finish shouting “Hakeoi!” and Tobizaru is flat on his backside into the salt basket. I am sure Tobizaru had a clever set of moves worked out to take the yusho leader down, but none of that mattered when the Tamawashi express came thundering through. Wow, Tamawashi still in sole lead for the yusho at 12-2. Thirty seven years old, and he’s the top man in sumo.
Midorifuji defeats Kotoeko – Much as I love Kotoeko sumo, I am happy to see Midorifuji improve his score to 6-8 and minimize his move down the banzuke. He was probably a bit over promoted, but as long as he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a big deal soon enough.
Ichinojo defeats Onosho – Ichinojo decided today he was going chest to chest (wise choice), which blunted Onosho’s thrusting attacks. Onosho was able to break Ichinojo’s battle hug twice, but then Ichinojo closed the match by setting Onosho over the bales with a yorikiri, advancing to 6-8.
Kiribayama defeats Ura – Well, Ura seems to have run out of sorcery for now, and he seems to be resorting to absorbing what he can for as long as he can. Kiribayama was happy to pour on the power, and finished Ura off with a hatakikomi, gaining his kachi-koshi at 8-6. Ura gets a Darwin match for senshuraku.
Wakatakakage defeats Hokutofuji – A match of considerable consequence, Wakatakakage’s win sets the stage for his second Ozeki run. The ability to win in high stakes matches is an indicator of Ozeki or higher rank, and it seems Wakatakakage is starting to even out his sumo at an exceptional level of performance. Now if he can just get rid of those cold starts. Hokutofuji came out of the tachiai with no working hand placement, while Wakatakakage had a useful grip. It was short work following that. Both end the day at 10-4, and Hokutofuji is eliminated from the yusho race. I expect to see him in the joi-jin in November.
Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Traditional Daieisho sumo, he stopped Nishikigi’s attempt to land a grip, laid down a volley of thrusts to stand Nishikigi up, and then the hatakikomi brought him down. Daieisho improves to 6-8.
Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – The final high consequence match of the day, and while it was quick and a bit disorganized, that was a brilliant opening combo from Takayasu. I am quite surprised that Hoshoryu was not minding his countermeasures better at the tachiai. The hikiotoshi put Hoshoryu on the deck, and Takayasu moves to 11-3, with a head to head match against Tamawashi on senshuraku. Hoshoryu gets a Darwin match.
Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – Well, Nishikifuji, when you decide to fight Takakeisho using his favorite sumo, it’s not going to end well. I note with interest that we did not really see Takakeisho do any forward offense, the win came via tsukiotoshi after Takakeisho repeatedly batted Nishikifuji’s thrusts up and away. Both end the day at 9-5.
Endo defeats Mitakeumi – Ah, Mitakeumi. Just go kyujo already. Get the shoulder fixed up and come to Kyushu (as long as Sakurajima does not cover it in ash) and get your 10. Endo advances to 7-7, gets a Darwin match on day 15.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – This match was a “gimme” for Shodai. Why? No clue. Shodai’s already deeply make-koshi and will be kadoban for November. Takarafuji is not going to get dropped out of the division even with his terrible score. I guess Shodai had to fight someone today. Both end the day with miserable 4-10 records.