It’s great to see that as we step nearer to the final day of the tournament, that so many rikishi continue to elevate their performance, and the matches are more intense, more skillful, and more impactful with each passing day. There were so many stand outs on day 12, all I can manage to say is “wow, well done!” To the top division.
We saw the yusho race even up to 10-2 between Daieisho and Midorifuji, as Wakatakakage gave the Isegahama man a flying lesson in today’s penultimate match. Interestingly enough, the schedulers did not give us a head to head between the two of them for day 13, perhaps hoping they can have it on day 14 or 15. This could make for an exciting weekend of sumo, so get yourself ready for a wild ride to senshuraku.
Oho defeats Asanoyama – Color me surprised. Oho’s sumo, and his fighting spirit, have been ho-hum this entire basho. Suddenly when he has a big match like this, he wakes up and fights well. That would seem to indicate some kind of problem between his ears. Asanoyama defended poorly, and allow Oho to get a double inside grip by the second step. From there it was lift and drive ahead for Oho, dumping Asanoyama off the edge of the dohyo. Asanoyama’s loss hands Ichinojo sole lead in the Juryo yusho race, while Oho improves to 6-6.
Kinbozan defeats Mitoryu – Kinbozan tried for and achieved a left hand frontal grip, which gave him all the leverage he needed to lift Mitoryu and move him back, and out by yorikiri. Kinbozan takes his 8th win, and is kachi-koshi for Osaka.
Takarafuji defeats Hokuseiho – Takarafuji was not intimidated by Hokuseiho’s stature in the least, he dives in at the tachiai, grabs a left hand inside hold of the giant’s mawashi, and gets to work. I noticed that Hokuseiho’s great height puts his mawashi at a comfortable near-shoulder level for many rikishi. This might be important later. Takarafuji lifts and presses forward, and Hokuseiho is out without too much fuss. Takarafuji now 5-7.
Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Azumaryu scores his second win of the basho, and his second win in three days against a somewhat surprised Tsurugisho. I am sure Tsurugisho did not expect that Azumaryu’s hand inside to land that hard, or to be that effective. Three steps later, Tsurugisho is out by yorikiri, and Azumaryu improves to 2-10.
Takanosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s first and second combo’s did not land with any effect, and he quickly found himself captured by Takanosho, using a right arm over Chiyoshoma’s shoulder. The set up for the throw took just a moment, and Chiyoshoma went crashing to the clay. Excellent sumo from Takanosho, and he is 7-5.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – Myogiryu shows he’s not quite ready for his make-koshi yet. He shuts down Kotoeko’s two attack volleys, and moves him out by oshidashi to improve to 5-7, avoiding the mini-Darwin outcome.
Aoiyama defeats Kagayaki – Aoiyama still cannot hold ground, but he was able to get Kagayaki too far forward, and pull him down in one of Big Dan’s traditional “Stand him up and pull him down” combos. Another mini-Darwin outcome avoided as Aoiyama advances to 5-7.
Daishoho defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi has completely reversed his pattern, and now has won on an odd day, and lost on an even day. It may come down to how he manages to count to 11. He started the match with a solid right hand outside grip, but he could not maintain his left hand ottsuke. Daishoho consolidated his grip, and drove Hiradoumi from the ring. Daishoho kachi-koshi with 8-4.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Bushozan – Whatever injury is bothering Ichiyamamoto, it has him going for immediate pull downs in the tachiai. Surprisingly, it worked today against Bushozan, sending him tumbling out of the ring in a sort of improvised uwatenage. Bushozan now make-koshi as both end the day at 4-8.
Nishikifuji defeats Takayasu – The Takayasu fade continues, he has now lost 5 of the last 6, and I am reduced to hoping he manages to get to kachi-koshi before whatever is left of his sumo gives up for this month. Nishikifuji gets a left hand inside, and you can just see Takayasu increasingly focus on shutting down Nishikifuji’s forward push. None of it worked, and Takayasu is run out of the ring by oshidashi, as both end the day 7-5.
Kotoshoho defeats Ura – A beautiful example of Ura’s grab-and-tug style of high mobility sumo. I am impressed that Kotoshoho was able to maintain his balance and stay in the match, attacking at will and keeping Ura from gaining any advantage. With four arms flailing away, Kotoshoho found himself for a brief moment with a right hand over Ura’s left shoulder, and he rotated into a kotenage that put Ura on the clay. Wonderful sumo, and Kotoshoho is now 4-8.
Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I hereby declare a new form of the “Dead body rule”. It’s when a former Ozeki seems to be going through the motions, with no real sumo power or fighting spirit. It did not help that Abi decided to employ a leaping henka today. The scored it as an uwatenage, but hey… Abi now 7-5.
Sadanoumi defeats Ryuden – When an injured Sadanoumi beats an injured Ryuden, do you know what to call it? I think we should call an orthopedist, but that is not the sumo way. Ryuden sets up a double inside grip, but can’t do anything with it as Sadanoumi out muscles him and puts him across the bales by yorikiri, improving to 4-8.
Nishikigi defeats Tamawashi – Nishikigi breaks a 4 match losing streak. There was a moment where Tamawashi needed just a bit more power to take him out of the ring before Nishikigi consolidated his grip, but just could not make it happen. Nishikigi takes the win by yorikiri, and both end the day 3-9.
Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Daieisho made fast work of Hokutofuji, breaking his 7 match winning streak. Most of it came down to Hokutofuji attacking high at the tachiai, and giving up the inside to Daieisho. Daieisho wasted no time in landing his big thrusting attacks against Hokutofuji’s upper body, breaking his stance and getting him on the move. Three steps later, Hokutofuji was out by tsukidashi, and Daieisho advances to 10-2.
Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – Kotonowaka shows us how to get inside and set up a grip in short order. Meisei really can’t do much but go along for the ride as Kotonowaka puts him across the bales by yorikiri. Kotonowaka ends the day 9-3.
Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – Endo, when he is not sure to do, seems to want to lead with his left hand to try and get inside and get a frontal grip. It’s a favorite opener of his, and Wakamotoharu correctly anticipated it and shut it down by baring is right upper arm. At that point Endo was open to the throw, and Wakamotoharu wasted no time in rotating into a kotenage and scoring his 9th win, improving to 9-3.
Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru had no answer to a rapid deployment of the “Wall of Daikon”, and was bodily shoved from the ring. They called it a yorikiri, but something a bit more vegetable related might be closer to correct. Shodai is now 7-5.
Wakatakakage defeats Midorifuji – The pivotal match of the day, and we once again see the seeds of greatness in Wakatakakage. He knew how much this match mattered, and no matter what problems he has with his body or his sumo, he rose to the occasion. Bonus points that he got Midorifuji airborne in the final combo that saw the yusho leader face down on the clay. Wakatakakage advances to 6-6, and the yusho race is tied between Midorifuji and Daieisho at 10-2.
Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu’s opening attempt at a face slap cost him this match. Had he focused on blunting Kiribayama’s opening gambit, he was likely (at least in my mind) to win. Kiribayama landed a strong grip by his left hand, setting up a left hand ottsuke that kept Kiribayama from doing much of anything but wait for his doom. The two worked out their hand hold, and we got to see Hoshoryu try to rally and break that left hand grip, but it was going nowhere. As was clear from the first step of that match, that left hand payed off after the second Hoshoryu escape attempt, as Kiribayama rotated into an uwatenage, hurling Hoshoryu to the clay. Kiribayama now 9-3.