Osaka Day 6 Highlights

Welcome all to the first day of act 2 of the Haru basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. We will see our early kahci-kochi and make-koshi scores during this period, and we should know who will likely compete for the cup by the end of this middle weekend of the Osaka tournament. There are six rikishi at the front of the pack following day 6, and each ofd them would make a fine yusho winner.

Sadly Ozeki Takakeisho is not among them, as he shows more signs of injury with each day of competition. As stated during January’s Hatsu basho, the sumo association might have a problem on their hands if their lone surviving Ozeki became injured, went kadoban and was demoted while their lone relic Yokozuna was still recovering from knee surgery. With the crowd of Ozeki hopefuls in tatters this March, the sumo landscape is incredibly flat right now, and we may see a period of intense change. This might force the sumo association to break with long standing tradition (which they loathe doing) and have a banzuke without a minimum two Ozeki. May Takakeisho get his body to gather in order for tradition to survive.

Highlight Matches

Mitoryu defeats Oho – Just when I thought Oho could not be any more lethargic, we get this glorious match. Mitoryu seems completely out of his league right now, but he makes fast work of Oho. What’s going on with Oho? I can’t hazard a guess. Both end the day 2-4.

Shonannoumi defeats Bushozan – I think Bushozan’s sumo is hiding in the same cabinet that Oho’s sumo ran to for a holiday. He’s not that terrible of a rikishi, but something happened between January and the start of Osaka. He looks completely worn out, and is an easy win for Shonannoumi, who heads back to Juryo 5-1.

Daishoho defeats Hokuseiho – I was a bit worried about this, as it’s not uncommon in younger rikishi. Take a loss and you get into a losing streak. Hokuseiho again shows a lot of patience waiting out Daishoho, but waiting around and employing good defensive sumo are not the same thing. He allowed Daishoho to consolidate his grip and his stance, and gradually work up what he needed to lift and move Hokuseiho back and out. Both end the day 4-2.

Kotoeko defeats Kinbozan – Kotoeko side stepped the tachiai, which was less awesome than I was hoping for. Kinbozan was only momentarily disrupted, as Kotoeko could not finish him off. Kinbozan attacked, but did not set his feet well, and Kotoeko threw him down with a sukuinage, improving to 5-1.

Tsurugisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji tried some offense at the tachiai, and it did not really connect. When Tsurugisho countered, we saw Takarafuji try to use his defensive sumo, but it quickly fell apart, and he was unable to hold his ground. Tsurugisho pushed him out and ends the day 4-2.
Kimarite: oshidashi

Chiyoshoma defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu can’t buy a win, now 0-6. It does not help when you have Chiyoshoma using a henka against a winless opponent. Chiyoshoma is now 4-2.

Myogiryu defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki got the better of the tachiai, and was driving forward with strength against Myogiryu’s faltering defense. But Myogiryu was far from beaten, with Kagayaki putting his head down and pushing, he was ripe for a side-step, and Myogiryu’s was timed well to send Kagayaki into the salt basket. Myogiryu improves to 3-3.

Aoiyama defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji picks up his first loss after opening strong and taking the fight to Aoiyama. Nishikifuji was in the driver’s seat from the tachiai, but chose to grab a hold of Aoiyama’s belt, and Aoiyama countered. An attempt by Nishikifuji to rotate into a throw found Aoiyama too large, his stance too stable to complete the move, and Aoiyama walked Nishikifuji out. Aoiyama now 4-2.

Hiradoumi defeats Takanosho – Takanosho put all of his effort in the tachiai on a big hit to Hiradoumi’s face. It connected, but his mawashi was wide open, and Hiradoumi latched on. Takanosho was never able to gain the upper hand, trying to pivot into a throw, only to find himself unable to complete. Hiradoumi countered with an uwatenage, and picked up his third win, finishing 3-3.

Hokutofuji defeats Ura – Ura was too far forward, maybe he was trying to grab one of Hokutofuji’s legs? Hokutofuji reads it perfectly and dumps Ura immediately to the clay with his hatakikomi, improving to 2-4.

Takayasu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Points to Ichiyamamoto for putting a lot of effort into this fight. I like that Takayasu calmed his tachiai, and went straight into a battle for upper body control, which saw him trading volley after volley with Ichiyamamoto. Once Takayasu landed a right hand inside grip, he went to work setting up the shitatenage, which connected a few moments later to hand Ichiyamamoto his 6th straight loss, while Takayasu remains perfect at 6-0.

Midorifuji defeats Endo – You know what we have not enjoyed in a while? Yes, that’s right, a Midorifuji katasukashi! Thank you Endo for providing a platform for a fan favorite, as Midorifuji advances to 6-0.

Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – Straight ahead sumo from both, Meisei had more power and more focus center mass. Sadanoumi could not maneuver nearly enough to blunt Meisei’s attack, and was moved out by oshidashi. Meisei now 2-4.

Abi defeats Kotoshoho – It looks like Abi-zumo is starting to really click. I give a nod to Kotoshoho for a solid opening combo that forced Abi to move back, but it simply set up the hatakikomi that sent Kotoshoho tumbling to the clay. Nice recovery and employment of plan B form Abi today, he’s now 5-1.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Where in God’s good earth has this version of Shodai been hiding? He absorbs Tamawashi’s initial opening attack, and waits for the second. As Tamawashi moves forward, Shodai calmly swipes forward with his right hand and brings Tamawashi tumbling to the clay. Exquisite timing and hand placement, Shodai is now 4-2.

Wakamotoharu defeats Tobizaru – In the abbreviated preview, I noted that to win, Tobizaru had stay mobile. Wakamotoharu captured him early, and in spite of a basked of energetic gyrations, kept Tobizaru in his grip. Tobizaru managed to briefly escape, but was so off balance that he was easily slapped down by Wakamotoharu, who finishes the day 4-2.

Daieisho defeats Kotonowaka – Even a fairly genki Kotonowaka is not a match for Daieisho when he’s in good form. Kotonowaka came out of the tachiai strong, and controlled the match with a solid close range oshi-zumo strategy. It cased Daieisho to move back, and give up forward pressure. But Daieisho managed to get Kotonowaka too far forward, and thrust him down a moment before Kotonowaka pushed him from the ring. Great recovery and solid sumo, Daieisho keeps a perfect record at 6-0.

Hoshoryu defeats Onosho – Yeah, that was crap. We all know the hallmark of a champion is a hearty side step against a lower ranked opponent. Hoshoryu now 3-3.

Wakatakakage defeats Ryuden – I am happy to see Wakatakakage pick up his first win. It was a sloppy match, as you might expect from two rikishi with losing records and a set of injuries each. But Wakatakakage managed to keep his ottsuke running long enough to get Ryuden’s balance behind his heels, and ran him for the bales. Both end the day 1-5.

Kiribayama defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi tried to employ his favored arm bar again today against Kiribayama, but Kiribayama was able to counter by hooking Nishikigi’s leg and toppling him back for a win by sotogake. Kiribayama now 4-2.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – My attention is drawn to the tape around Takakeisho’s knee. He opened strong, but then decided after two volleys of thrusts, to try to pull. Mitakeumi has 25 or so career matches against him, and knew this combo was likely to show up. Mitakeumi responded with a potent attack from underneath, moving the Ozeki back and driving him from the ring by oshidashi. Tough loss for Takakeisho, who I worry may be kadoban soon enough. Both end the day 3-3.

13 thoughts on “Osaka Day 6 Highlights

  1. My guess is they’ll break the ozeki promotion guidelines before they break the two ozeki rule. They can treat O like S/K and just get the best current candidate up there. But they won’t do it until they absolutely have to. Hopefully we don’t get there.

  2. Hokuseiho’s tachiai is as effective as Takakeisho’s Yotsu sumo.
    I was looking forward for his Makuchi debut, but disappointed with his passive stand up and wait tachiai.

  3. Yesterday, Hoshoryu grabbed his opponent’s ankle after he had already hit the clay, sending Nishikigi tumbling down needlessly. Today, Hoshoryu henka’ed Onosho, immediately grabbing for the back of his head and nearly getting the top knot. I don’t care how much skill he has; until Hoshoryu ditches his entitled attitude, I will never root for him.

    As for the rest of the tournament, the last two days have been a tougher watch than the opening ones. I feel really sorry for those rikishi mounting the dohyo each day hurt or the ones yet to get their first win despite fighting hard. And Kiribayama’s injury was really bad, yet Ross Mihara wanted fans to pay attention to his elbow as it was destroyed. But, one shining light: Takayasu. It finally seems to be his turn.

    • Sumo authorities has to take action, for such cases like Hoshoryu’s cowardly act of injuring the opponent after the bout is over. There are also few demi oshi incidents, where the rikishi were injured.
      The last such incident I remember is when Terenofuji injured Takayasu with a demi oshi, after the bout was over.

  4. Henka Day. >: (

    Hokuseiho is young and will come to learn that patience needs to be combined with offense.

    Hokutofuji is 2-0 since he ditched the second knee sleeve.

  5. Those first three bouts were just about the worst exhibition of supposedly top-level sumo I can recall. And it included the great new hope, Hokuseiho, who seemed to be trying to emulate Ichinojo at his sleepiest.

  6. There are a lot of rikishi who are physically on the dohyo, but not mentally. The one that was obvious today was Ura. If you watch his pre-match routine this morning, you’ll see him cock his head at an angle, make a face like, “Welp. Let’s see how this goes.” and get on with things. I am 100% not surprised that he lost and that Hokotofuji countered Ura being low immediately at the tachiai. When we aren’t confident, we do familiar things because we’ve done them a lot. If Ura had done a standard tachiai today, His hands would have been above Hokotofuji’s and would have had an open lane towards center mass. Oho is a similar case. Instead of doing “his sumo” and attempting to win, he’s trying not to lose. That might also be Wakatakakage’s problem regardless of if he’s injured or not.

    Hokuseiho isn’t used to his opponents watching his previous matches and learning strategy from them. Daishoho watched what Ichinojo did yesterday, said, “Thanks for the tip!”, and put that strategy into action today. If you move Hokuseiho horizontally, he’s doomed. I expect all of Hokuseiho’s other opponents to attempt similar things until he learns how to defend against it.

    It’s very kind of Kagayaki to visit the salt basket since Sadanoumi hasn’t stopped by to visit either one recently.

    Aoiyama should be proud of his win today. That is a match he previously would lose all the time. His work on his throws and defense at the edge of the dohyo seems to be paying off.

    My assumption about Shodai is that he was dealing with Long COVID. It can stick around for up to a year. If that’s the case, he’s lucky to return to his previous ability on the dohyo because quite a few people don’t ever fully recover from it.

    There were a bunch of henkas today for various reasons. Kotoeko’s is understandable (and he still did hit his opponent at the tachiai) as is Hoshoryu’s (Coreyyanofsky is correct in their comment above: Hoshoryu was injured by the kotenage yesterday. My assumption is that he wasn’t wearing tape today to avoid giving a “tell” to his opponent for an appendage to target, but I’ll admit that’s a guess). Chiyoshoma’s is definitely disappointing for obvious reasons.

    I really hope Kiribyama is okay and can continue to compete. More people are using kotenages again and that’s going to injure their opponents more often than not.

    The big takeaway for me from the Mitakeumi/Takakeisho match is that the Ozeki didn’t have the power to push his opponent around anymore. He already had a chronic shoulder injury and if his knee and/or ankle are busted, then he’s in real trouble. Everyone in the audience and in the back of the arena knew that Takakeisho was going to pull, use his slap down/step aside move, or do both during this match. Interestingly, it still was a struggle for Mitakeumi to get Takakeisho out of the ring. Which shows how “healthy” he is right now too.

    The Cup is currently between Daiesho and Takayasu, although weird things have happened in the last two years during the second week of the basho. So, we’ll see.

  7. The only thing I hate more in sumo than the henka (especially by sanyaku rikishi and/or much bigger opponents) are those arm breaking techniques. I wish they were forbidden.

  8. To be honest, I’m rather enjoying the messy state of Makuuchi level Sumo right now. We’re all over the map and the unpredictableness of it all is very entertaining. On the other hand, I suspect the association is worried as there are any number of bad optics issues for them:

    1) Hoshoryu – I’m a big fan but have to agree that the henka today was shite and he needs to check himself and grow up
    2) Wakatakakage – The previously annointed savior won today but he’s a train wreck and needs to regroup
    3) Shodai – Not a fan but would the real Shodai please stand up. He has two modes: 1) I’m great, 2) I suck
    4) Oho – Taiho’s grandson just doesn’t have what it takes. Nothing else needs to be said
    5) Terunofuji – Even with destroyed knees he’s still the class of the field but the association will be lucky if they can drag him though to the end of 2023,
    6) Takakeisho – The never to be Yokozuna, bad luck and injuries just keep coming his way and the fans don’t seem to care about what he does
    7) Asanoyama – A fan favorite for sure but near the end of his prime
    8) Tamawashi – Even the Grand Old Man is stinking up the joint
    9) Ichinojo – Usually bewilders and frustrates but is doing well right now. However, he’s also a known violent/abusive drunk

    That leaves the association with:
    1) Hokuseiho, who still needs a lot of polish but may blossom
    2) Tobizaru/Abi, both are the second coming of Shodai, hot, cold, hot, cold but at least their sumo is entertaining
    3) Takayasu, everyone’s favorite bridesmaid

    Beyond that, there are some other good rikishi but they just don’t get the fans excited and buzzing and that doesn’t translate into butts in seats, expanded TV viewership, sports news headlines, and most importantly CASH.

    Imagine the visual of a banzuke later this year with no Yokozuna or Ozeki. Talk about a mind blowing free for all….

    • Imagining a banzuke with no Yokozuna or Ozeki is all we get to do. As far as I know there is a rule that there has to be at least two Yokozuna or Ozeki on the banzuke. Question is just how do they fill those Ozeki positions, if this situation arises. Personally I would rather see a rule change and instead have more Sekiwake or Komusubi than make someone Ozeki with whatever last three basho record.

      • You’re probably right Askoj and I agree with your statement:

        “Personally I would rather see a rule change and instead have more Sekiwake or Komusubi than make someone Ozeki with whatever last three basho record.”


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