Osaka Day 10 Highlights

Today was the day that the Great Sumo Cat decided to paw the yusho race off of the top shelf and watch it fall. These chaos days happen in sumo, and it took hold earlier in the day when former Ozeki Tochinoshin surrendered his match when his shoulder or pectoral suddenly gave out. He went soft in his match against Oshoma, who had the presence of mind to ease up on Tochinoshin and let him step out. There’s no word on how seriously he is injured, but I expect that if it’s bad enough, this will end his career. Furthermore, it was to his left shoulder, which is essential to his primary weapon, his left hand outside.

Past that, we saw Daieisho lose, Midorifuji win, and end the day 2 ahead of everyone else. It’s still possible for someone to catch Midorifuji, but the odds are longer now that anyone will, as it would require 2 losses for him while someone in the hunt group maintains a winning streak. Possible, but unlikely. Should this come to pass, we will once again see just how flat the competition is in the top division now. Anyone can take the cup, as none of the upper ranks are dominant enough to dominate anyone consistently. Lets call it Makujuryo.

In the headlines of “Should have happened last basho”, Asanoyama is now 9-1 at Juryo 1 East, he will return to the top division in May, and now we are just going to wait and see if he can run up the score and place higher than the bottom rung. Welcome back, sir. Please stay healthy.

Highlight Matches

Mitoryu defeats Tohakuryu – Tohakuryu sent back to the 2nd division with a loss. I thought he stepped out much earlier than the match ran, but I was not on the dohyo. Mitoryu has little fuss in capturing him, turning him to the East and stepping him out to improve to 5-5.

Kagayaki defeats Oho – Oho chooses to open with a hazu-oshi, but can’t maintain the hold as Kagayaki disrupts his upper body and hand placement, sending him off balance. A moment later the hikiotoshi lands an Oho is on the clay. Both end the day 4-6.

Takarafuji defeats Bushozan – Faced with a make-koshi, Takarafuji finds an escape move at the edge to stave off a losing record another day. Bushozan only takes a pair of volleys to break through Takarafuji’s normally solid defense and get him moving. Bushozan pursues, but finds himself on the dohyo the moment he lunges forward to finish off Takarafuji. Takarafuji improves to 3-7.

Tsurugisho defeats Takanosho – Solid sumo from Tsurugisho halts Takanosho’s climb back to the top ranks, at least for today. It was all in Tsurugisho’s left hand grip which he landed early. Three steps later, and he wins by yorikiri, both finish 6-4.

Chiyoshoma defeats Myogiryu – Chiyoshoma launched into the tachiai a bit early, and stayed on his feet when Myogiryu tried to pull him down. The match featured an awkward staring contest that lasted a few seconds in the middle before Chiyoshoma slapped Myogiryu to bring him back to the fight. Myogiryu charged, and Chiyoshoma slapped him down, improving to 7-3.

Daishoho defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji did not have the mass or the power to break Daishoho’s solid defensive stance, Daishoho counter attacked, and launched Nishikifuji out by oshidashi for the win. Both end the day 6-4.

Hiradoumi defeats Kotoeko – Hiradoumi is able to deliver a lot more power than I tend to expect form him. Plus he is on this very unusual pattern of winning on even days, losing on odd days going on right now. As day 10 is even, I guess it was time for him to win. He powers up against Kotoeko and walks him out, improving to 5-5.

Azumaryu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Azumaryu finally gets his first win of the tournament. He still can’t hold ground, but Ichiyamamoto is so helter skelter this March that Azumaryu just needed to stay one step ahead of him, and wait to apply the slap down. He improves to 1-9.

Hokuseiho defeats Ura – Do you ever have a day where you need to get at that box of papers on the top shelf in your closet? But it’s underneath a bunch of other boxes and there is stuff that is threatening to fall on you as you try to work it out of it’s spot without causing a concussion? Now imagine the closet is fighting you back. That is what comes to mind watching Ura fight from his ultra low stance against the vertically generous Hokuseiho. Ura throws the kitchen sink into this match, but Hokuseiho the closet is not giving in, and Ura is not getting that box of papers. Ura pauses for a moment, to think through if he really needs those papers, remembers it’s almost tax time, and goes at it again. This time the closet is done messing around, and it’s over by yorikiri before Ura can file an extension. Hokuseiho now 6-4.

Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – That was more forward power from Aoiyama than I think I have seen the entire basho. He did well to fend off Hokutofuji at first, but in true Aoiyama style, he resorted to a pull after a time. Hokutofuji was prepared, and rushed “Big Dan” for the exit, improving to 6-4. Six straight wins after an 0-4 start.

Kinbozan defeats Takayasu – This match was all down to Takayasu’s lack of balance and connection to earth. He starts with his pointless shoulder blast, only to find that Kinbozan is not really effected. Takayasu attacks with oshi-zumo, but it’s not really effective, so he tries to pull Kinbozan. Sadly, that does not work either a Kinbozan keeps his feed and runs Takayasu out. Every moment that Takayasu had a choice to make today, his choices turned out poorly. He’s eliminated from even theoretical competition for the cup, as both end the day 7-3.

Sadanoumi defeats Nishikigi – Sadanoumi accepts Nishikigi’s invitation to yotsu-zumo, and proceed to call the tune. Nishikigi never can set his feet defensively, and Sadanoumi swings him around and rolls him to the clay by sukuinage. Nishikigi now make-koshi at 2-8 while Sadanoumi improves to 3-7.

Tamawashi defeats Ryuden – We finally get to see some solid forward power from Tamawashi in today’s match. Ryuden is in terrible condition right now, and can’t offer more than token resistance to Tamawashi’s oshi attack, and is out in a hurry by oshidashi, with Tamawashi advancing to 2-8.

Endo defeats Shodai – Endo stays in the hunt in this solid match. We got to see a good opening gambit from Endo, the “Wall of Daikon” from Shodai, and then Endo counters with a well timed sukuinage. That’s a real risk to Shodai’s favorite move, if you can get a hand around that big body, you can swing him down for a win. Endo now 8-2 and kachi-koshi.

Wakamotoharu defeats Meisei – Outstanding defensive effort from Meisei today. He was masterful in his approach to locking out as much of Wakamotoharu’s sumo as he could, preventing Waka from getting much of a grip for most of the fight. But eventually Meisei had to pause. Wakamotoharu consolidated his grip, lifted Meisei and walked him out for a win by yorikiri, he is now 7-3.

Midorifuji defeats Tobizaru – Valiant effort by Tobizaru, but it seems Midorifuji is untouchable right now. He sacrificed his hit and move sumo for a solid right hand inside grip, and proceeded to try and find some way to break Midorifuji down. For just a moment, it looked like Tobizaru had found an advantage, he advanced. But, Midorifuji countered with a seldom seen move – a waridashi, or upper arm force out. That’s 10-0 for Midorifuji. Wow.

Kotonowaka defeats Abi – Abi-zumo seems to have once again run out of gas for now. I am sure he will be back with a variation that will cause all kinds of trouble later this year. But Kotonowaka shuts down his offense, lands a couple of big pushes center mass, and drops Abi on his back. Kotonowaka now kachi-koshi at 8-2.

Kiribayama defeats Mitakeumi – Impressed that Kiribayama was able to get a double hand inside grip and lift the bulky tadpole body of Mitakeumi up and buck him out of the ring. That’s quite a lift for anyone. Kiribayama now 7-3.

Hoshoryu defeats Daieisho – This is the point where the yusho race fell apart. It was a lot of expect of Daieisho to stay on a winning streak against some of the toughest men still fighting in this tournament. Daieisho put all of his chips on a thrust and pull strategy which failed. It was predictable, and likely trained for this morning. He was then gabbed bodily by Hoshoryu, and it was all over except for the kensho at that point. Hoshoryu improves to 7-2.

Kotoshoho defeats Wakatakakage – Ok, what the hell was that? Kotoshoho has been fighting like a top contender in Jonidan for most of this tournament. But he shuts down the one time Ozeki hopeful, discombobulates his sumo utterly, and then shoves the resulting mess out of the ring. Oh, 2020s sumo – never change! Kotoshoho now 2-8.

18 thoughts on “Osaka Day 10 Highlights

  1. It’s pretty funny that Midorifuji is running away with this.

    Who’s gonna put dirt on him? Kotonowaka is clearly a huge challenge for him but he’s got recent wins over everyone else in sanyaku demonstrating a non-negligible threat level (Hoshoryu in particular struggles with him).

    • That’s the question, isn’t it? Also, we need two rikishi, if not three, to put dirt on him. That currently seems like a big ask.

  2. I’m torn between calling the top division MakunoHakuho or Makuallinjuries. Both are true and both influence how we determine the current quality of sumo we’re watching.

    I am both saddened and unsurprised about Takayasu. I firmly believe that ship has sailed at this point because he continues to make the same mistakes and never learn the lessons from them.

    A lot of rikishi need to take time to figure out how to improve their sumo and move to the next level. I’m curious if more degeiko over the coming months will help fix that problem or not.

    Lastly, I think far too many people are assuming that Asanoyama will waltz back into the top division and win multiple Cups in a row with ease. He’ll definitely throw his weight around at the bottom of the banzuke. But, at the top? We’ll see. I remain unconvinced because at this point people have to show me they’re going to actually do what they need to do to match the lofty, assumptive expectations of their fans.

    • I fully agree with Asanoyama. It’s the same thing that happened with Abi (though admittedly Asanoyama was more accomplished than Abi at the time of their punishments). Abi rocketed up from being suspended and made people believe he’d evolved his sumo to the next level against that level of competition but he’s fallen right back to where he was prior to the suspension. Lower Sanyaku level but no higher.

      Asanoyama’s struggled even more then Abi did and dropped critical matches in his climb. At times he’s looked dominant but at others he’s lost key matches, looked very beatable or downright got luckily like the Kinbozan match last basho. I think he’s still Ozeki level, but I don’t think he’s evolved. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised. He’ll likely have an amazing first basho back when he’s at lower rank but he’s going to slow down trying to climb back to Ozeki.

  3. Is there any chance that we can get two new Ozeki in May, if Kiribayama and Hoshoryu, both manages to reach double digit?
    I hope Kiribayama gets promoted to Ozeki, really enjoying his fights.

    • It’s doubtful, because the “standard” requirements are 33 wins in 3 basho and both Hoshoryu and Kiribayama can only get 30 wins in total. Kiribayama does have the best chance out of anyone, but I don’t think he’ll get promoted unless he wins all of the rest of his matches and the NSK is desperate to have an Ozeki in May.

      • Looks like both have 19 in the prior two bashos and are at 7 wins, so one of them can get to 31 if they run the table and beat the other one. Who knows, if both are at 30 on the last day the ultimate Darwin match could be for a promotion. They both have wins over ozeki in their current runs (both beat Shodai once, Kiribayama also beat Takakeisho once). Maybe that’ll be enough?

    • Even if they win out neither will be promoted to Ozeki. However, if one or both go double digit wins in May we could see at least one new Ozeki and quite possibly 2.

  4. Nishikufuji Daishoho – A big surprise given their head-to-head and obviously a disappointment for me! Not Nishikifuji’s normal sumo style, maybe he is injured after all? He’s usually the first one ready at the tachi-ai so that was an alarm bell at the start.

    Midorifuji Tobizaru – AMAZING effort and clever sumo from Midorifuji! Waridashi? That’s a kimarite I’ve not seen or heard of before.

    Hokuseiho Ura – Was really looking forward to this bout and it didn’t disappoint! Very exciting and unusual bout. I like Ura but it’s also good to see the newcomer do well. I also loved your description of fighting a closet – hilarious!

    Am I right that Kotonowaka’s father is one of the shinpan? I’m surprised that close relatives can act as judges when they can’t fight each other in regulation bouts…

  5. Talking about the weakness of makuuchi, it occurred to me to add up how many yusho had been won by the top division rikishi who were on the dohyo today. It came out at nine, by six rikishi. Five of the wins belong to Mitakeumi and Tamawashi, who aren’t exactly in top form. This seems like a pitifully small number, reflecting a lack of actual accomplishment by the field.
    It may turn out to be a low point, because if Terunofuji, Takakeisho, Asanoyama and Ichinojo are all back in May, that would add twelve more.

  6. Bruce, your description of Ura fighting the closet for that box on the top shelf was the funniest thing I’ve read in a while! Thank you.

    I enjoy Midorifuji a lot. He always looks serene and unruffled.

    • All very true.
      And Hokuseiho is also a slot machine. Do U know the one-armed-bandit? Not for the first time, Hakuho’s protegé did nothing with his left. It just hung there in the air. With more experience and with both arms working he will be a force, as will future Kinboshizan or even Kingbozan!

  7. I don‘t agree that the 7-3 wrestlers are theoretically out of contention. Not even practically!
    It would be no surprise if Midorifuji lost three or four of his upcoming matches. In fact, before the tournament he would have been the outsider in all the bouts that await him now.

    That said, I hope very much he‘ll sail the momentum to an outstanding basho.
    How often may this has happened before: the lightest rikishi taking the championship!?

  8. Asanoyama has lost on Day 11 in each of the last 3 bashos. It will be a very curious thing if he loses tomorrow. But as you say, he’s clearly already earned promotion in May.

    • Day 11 was the last time Asanoyama had a match in May 2021 as Ozeki. After that he got suspended. I have been wondering if there is some psychological issue or superstition related to that, which has caused him to lose matches on day 11 to rikishi that he should have won. 2 out of 3 times it cost him a promotion. This time it might cost him Juryo yusho, and I was hoping to see Ichinojo and Asanoyama in a playoff.

      • If Asanoyama had any issues with day 11, he seems to have gotten over it now. Onto the 14-1 playoff, hopefully.

  9. I’m going to disagree with the general consensus that the overall level of Makuuchi has fallen. I think instead we’ve entered an era of parity which isn’t necessarily bad or reflects poorly on the level of skill. I also think its recency bias based upon the performances of this tournament versus prior ones.

    When you add a general level of skill parity along with sumo’s handling of injuries that leads to these tournaments with wild swings in momentum or placement. Guys are roughly the same skill ability and then add injuries and a guy who went 10+ wins last tournament is suddenly going 10+ losses this tournament. That isn’t going to change until someone emerges with transcendent skill who manages to avoid injuries. Good luck with that.


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