The 2023 Nagoya basho continues its topsy-turvy ways. We eliminate another Ozeki hopeful from the race to 33, we shuffled the leader board again, and we start to ponder the possibility of the last man on the banzuke, yet again, maybe taking home the cup.
With 2 more days yet to go, I suggest laying in supplies of sake, popcorn, and Pepto-Bismol, as this one is not going to go down easy.
Aoiyama defeats Tohakuryu – That’s now 5 wins in a row for an injured Aoiyama, incredible. Tohakuryu had never fought Aoiyama before, so he was probably not ready for the slap-slap-pull that is one of Aoiyama’s favorite combos. Aoiyama now 7-6.
Takarafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – It’s been a while since we saw Takarafuji be able to set up “that” stance, and engage in his favorite defend and extend tactic. But it was there today, and it seems to have thwarted everything Chiyoshoma wanted to use. When Takarafuji chose to attack, it was almost out of position as he hit the clay after sending Chiyoshoma out by yoritaoshi. Takarafuji finally kachi-koshi at 8-5.
Gonoyama defeats Tsurugisho – Gonoyama took charge of the fight, but switched from oshi-zumo to yotsu, even though the oshi attack was working quite well. Once they were chest to chest, Tsurugisho employed a few good combos to try and break Gonoyama’s attack, at least two of them nearly worked. The oshidashi finished the match, and Gonoyama advances to 8-5, and is kachi-koshi for July.
Kotoeko defeats Bushozan – Kotoeko ticks the boxes for an oshi-zumo match; he has his hands inside his opponent’s defenses, and he is hitting him in the middle chest, near center mass. Credit to Bushozan for putting up a solid defense for a time, but once Kotoeko had a clear attack route, he really leaned into his pushing combos. Kotoeko improves to 7-6.
Ryuden defeats Kinbozan – Once Ryuden gets his left hand outside grip, there is not a whole lot that Kinbozan is able to do. He struggles to break the grip if he can, but Ryuden has him locked up. With his heels on the tawara, Kinbozan loses traction and his left knee hits the clay. Ryuden improves to 9-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Endo – Hokutofuji completely disrupts everything Endo wanted to do. Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” is really quite effective when he can land it properly. It sets up the initial pull down attempt that fails, but it leaves Endo doubled over with no foot position at all. A quick shove and he’s out. Hokutofuji maintains his share of the lead at 11-2.
Shonannoumi defeats Nishikifuji – This was a jolly mess of a match, with both men hopelessly out of step and off balance for a good portion of it. As Shonannoumi hit the clay, Nishikifuji’s foot was somewhere near the janome, so a monoii was called. Sure enough, there was an almost imperceptible dent in the fine sand just beyond the bales. The win went to Shonannoumi, advancing him to 9-4 while Nishikifuji is now make-koshi at 5-8.
Sadanoumi defeats Daishoho – Sadanoumi gets his right hand inside at the tachiai, and Daishoho responds with a arm bar hold. But the injured Daishoho can’t hold ground or defend against much forward pressure. Sadanoumi walks him back and out for a yorikiri win. Both end the day 4-9.
Tamawashi defeats Myogiryu – A quick combo attack from Tamawashi followed by a hikiotoshi, and Myogiryu hits the clay. Win #8 for Tamawashi, and he is kachi-koshi for Nagoya.
Kotoshoho defeats Hokuseiho – An odd stand up tachiai from Hokuseiho allow Kotoshoho to attack first. Of course Hokuseiho gets his right hand grip, but it’s inside rather than outside. Without that leverage point Hokuseiho struggles to really do much, as the much smaller Kotoshoho walks him out for a yorikiri. That’s 8 losses for Hokuseiho, and his first ever professional sumo make-koshi. Kotoshoho improves to 5-8.
Takanosho defeats Onosho – Excellent tachiai from Takanosho. He captures Onosho’s right arm and pivots away to prevent Onosho from going to full forward power. Robbed of anything to push against, Onosho is unable to set his feet to defend, and Takanosho attacks from an angle to Onosho’s hips. It’s a quick walk to the bales, and Onosho is out by oshidashi, giving Takanosho a win to improve to 7-6.
Meisei defeats Oho – Thrusting battle or pulling battle? I was not sure how to call this one as I saw three pull attempts before they took their second step. The match did not settle down from there, as both men were unable to decide between thrusting or body holds, and their arms were flailing about like willow trees in a hurricane. Meisei got the better of it and eventually his left hand caught Oho in the chest and shoved him out, advancing him to 6-7 while Oho has his 8th loss and is now make-koshi.
Takayasu defeats Midorifuji – Takayasu gets first contact at the tachiai, with a quick push back followed by a hatakikomi. In his current condition, Midorifuji was not going to withstand that. Takayasu improves to 6-7.
Hiradoumi defeats Mitakeumi – So let me get this straight, Mitakeumi was able to beat Kirishima and Abi, but has lost to everyone else. I get it, he’s miserable right now, and not really in a mood to compete. Hiradoumi did show us some solid sumo in turning the tables on Mitakeumi in this match, and I think it was a solid win. Hiradoumi now 5-8.
Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Asanoyama gets his favorite grip, gets into his favorite stance and just runs Shodai out. I think Shodai was somehow surprised at the speed and power Asanoyama brought to the match today. Shodai now make-koshi at 5-8, Asanoyama improves to 6-7.
Tobizaru defeats Ura – Brilliant fight, as we suspected it might be. Points to Tobizaru’s loose mawashi for being an identifiable combatant in this match, it kept Ura from unleashing any kind of throw or pivot move. Left with little to do but try to hold on, Ura was manageable and fell to a rather messy shitatenage that saw both men land in a heap. Tobizaru now 7-6.
Hakuoho defeats Nishikigi – Hakuoho, you just keep getting better. Hurt shoulder and all, you are really just killing it all around. There is some outstanding yotsu-zumo in this match, and it’s worth watching at least twice. For example, watch Hakuoho prevent Nishikigi from doing anything with his right hand. Forced into hidari-yotsu, Nishikigi is already off his sumo. Hakuoho stalemates him for a good long time, pacifying him. The finishing move is lightning fast and utterly brilliant as Hakuoho steps forward, brings his left leg to bear to set up the uchigake. He drops Nishikigi like bag of rice, removing Nishikigi from the leader position. The crowd loses its mind. Please keep in mind, this is just the first basho that this amazing athlete is competing in the top division. With luck we have years of this kind of sumo to enjoy from him. Both end the day 10-3.
Kotonowaka defeats Abi – Abi attempts a hit and shift tachiai, but Kotonowaka is having none of it. He captures Abi with a right hand inside grip and quickly puts him over the bales for a yorikiri. Kotonowaka now 9-4.
Wakamotoharu defeats Daieisho – Well, that’s going to leave a mark. With 33 wins out of reach for Wakamotoharu, he decides to pass it on and share with Daieisho. It was at least 60% Daieisho’s fault, as he was too eager to dial up the power, and allowed Wakamotoharu to close the gap and disrupt the thrusting attack. Daieisho was so committed to that route, that he persisted with massive forward power even at Wakamotoharu was setting up a step to the side. The resulting hatakikomi put Daieisho on the clay, and ended his bid to reach 33 wins for July. Wakamotoharu now 9-4.
Hoshoryu defeats Kirishima – The last man who might reach 33 wins, Hoshoryu, was able to deliver the goods today against the lone Ozeki, Kirishima. Hoshoryu used an off-angle tachiai to capture Kirishima’s left arm, and put the Ozeki off balance and on defense. Kirishima was unable to escape that hold, and Hoshoryu dominated the match, ending it by running Kirishima out of the ring. Hoshoryu stays in the Ozeki hunt at 10-3.