Aki Day 2 Highlights

I would have to say the standout match of the day was Kotonowaka and Asanoyama. I recall when Asanoyama returned to the top division, many fans and readers were skeptical of my boosterism for the guy. As with all things sumo, deeds over words is the order of the day. His win today showed both that he still can execute Ozeki class sumo, and that he is not quite at his level of performance he had in his prime. I think he can get back to that, if he can focus and train hard enough to rebuild his sumo skills. I think the fans in Japan would be happy to see him try to reach 33 wins, even though his prior infraction against the rules may preclude him from ever being considered to be re-promoted to Ozeki.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – Tsurugisho had his hands up early, I think he was trying to guide Kagayaki into trying for a grip rather than thrusting. To me this was a strange match, it was really just the yori, a turn to the right by Tsurugisho, and a Kagayaki step out. I expected more, I guess. Both end the day 1-1.

Atamifuji defeats Daishoho – Daishoho managed to get into a “hold steady” grip with Atamifuji following the tachiai, but then seemed to not have much of an idea of what to do. In spite of multiple bandages and tapings to his upper body, Atamifuji had little trouble consolidating his grip, and then walking Daishoho out, ending the day 2-0.

Kotoshoho defeats Chiyoshoma – That right forearm / elbow to Chiyoshoma’s face at the tachiai may have been the deciding element of this fight. I did like that Chiyoshoma got a right hand mawashi grip and tried to throw Kotoshoho, but I that head snap as the forearm connected – yikes. After a protracted grapple, Chiyoshoma tried to rally, but his forward pressure fed into Kotoshoho’s sukuinage. Both end the day 1-1.

Nishikifuji defeats Myogiryu – Nishikifuji quickly set up hidariyotsu (left hand inside) and from below, and kept Myogiryu too upright to generate much offense. It was a quick walk out for the yorikiri, and Nishikifuji’s first win of Aki as both finish 1-1.

Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – I will just say – combined age of… Ahem.. 73 between these two long serving rikishi. Aoiyama tried to deliver some blows to the base of Sadanoumi’s neck, but where was the power? Yeah, Aoiyama is not yet in fighting form. Sadanoumi figures this out by the second exchange. He gets Aoiyama turned and runs him out from behind for an okuridashi, as Sadanoumi improves to 2-0.

Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – I admit that Mitakeumi is past his prime, but then he has a match like today where he shows us brilliant form. Look at that body angle! Look at that ottsuke! At first Takarafuji was working to “defend and extend”, but that just seemed to delight Mitakeumi. It did not take long for Takarafuji to decide that was not going to work, but his choice of a pull worked less. Oshidashi win for the original tadpole, and he is 2-0.

Hokuseiho defeats Endo – What a fun match for a sumo fan. Endo put his chips on that right hand grip, and it worked pretty well for a while. Bonus – we got to see Hokuseiho react and defend. No surprise that an integral part of his defense was his enormity, which caused most of Endo’s sumo mechanics to fall to ruin. I mean, how do you practice for that kind of fight? Have one of your tsukebito ride around on another’s shoulders? Endo gets his grip, but then Hokuseiho gets him into an arm bar hold, and just waits for Endo to do something. When nothing comes to pass, Hokuseiho lifts and walks forward for a kimedashi, picking up his first win of Aki to improve to 1-1.

Kinbozan defeats Kotoeko – Really impressive lower body defensive work from Kinbozan. Kotoeko can be a tough opponent, and he certainly brought a lot of action to his sumo today, but Kotoeko simply was unable to disrupt Kinbozan’s stance. Sir, if you insist on employing excellent foot placement, you will be asked to assume higher rank. Kinbozan now 2-0.

Hiradoumi defeats Midorifuji – Hiradoumi really wanted to bounce back from his day 1 loss to Kotoeko. Midorifuji tried a number of combos once the two were chest to chest, but he could not disrupt Hiradoumi’s grip, or break his stance. The yorikiri was inevitable, and gave Hiradoumi his first win of Aki for a score of 1-1.

Onosho defeats Oho – I thought Oho had this one until he decided Onosho was off balance (hey, he frequently is) and tried a slap down far too close to the bales. No, Onosho’s right foot was under his chest and he was going nowhere. Having given up all forward pressure for the slap down, Oho caught a double arm blast to center mass and left the dohyo. Onosho with a 2-0 start to September.

Takayasu defeats Ryuden – I did not have Takayasu trying out Abi-zumo on my bingo card for Aki, but it was fun to watch. It seems to have caught Ryuden by surprise and he took the hikiotoshi with a roll to the clay. Takayasu picks up a second win to advance to 2-0.

Shonannoumi defeats Takanosho – Somewhat of a let down for Takanosho fans. He had this one ready for the oshidashi, but he was 1½ steps from the win. Rather than using 2, he tried to use 1 and found himself off balance enough that Shonannoumi countered with a sukuinage. Tough break sir, both end the day 1-1.

Ura defeats Gonoyama – Probably should have been a matta, as Gonoyama launched early. Gonoyama was clearly not ready for Ura’s angle of attack, and all of his offense landing impotently without disrupting the man in pink’s sumo. Ura pushed forward, and it was three quick steps to the oshidashi win. Both are now 1-1.

Tobizaru defeats Tamawashi – Tobizaru attempts a henka, which initially fails. But Tobizaru’s agility and speed of execution is so high that he recovers, and finishes the onrushing Tamawashi with a hikkake as his second sumo move. Daymm. Tobizaru scores his first win and is 1-1.

Daieisho defeats Shodai – My hoped for “Shodai as destroyer of dreams” shall not come to pas, I would guess. He’s looking moribund again. He’s upright, his feet are aligned, he’s a perfect mark for Daieisho’s big forward power. Yeah, not impressive. Daieisho now 1-1.

Asanoyama defeats Kotonowaka – Bloody hell, what defense! Asanoyama gets surprised by some clever combos from Kotonowaka, and is almost beaten twice. But he manages to recover, set his stance and counter with aggressive forward sumo that culminates with an uwatenage. The crowd loved it, and so did I. Asanoyama 2-0.

Abi defeats Wakamotoharu – Yeah, Wakamotoharu never does well against Abi, and today was no exception. He caught the double arm thrust and did not keep his weight centered over his feet, which made him easy meat for the hikiotoshi that followed. Abi gets his first win and is 1-1.

Kirishima defeats Meisei – Kirishima tried for a pull down at the tachiai, and it nearly cost him the match. Meisei was ready for it, and drove the Ozeki back. I guess a pull down was Kirishima’s plan, as we see him try it two more times, with the final one getting Meisei off balance enough that he fell to the clay. They scored it as an oshitaoshi, which just makes me shrug. Kirishima now 2-0.

Hokutofuji defeats Hoshoryu – I am both surprised and impressed that Ole’ Stompy pulled this one out. I think it came down to Hoshoryu getting too far forward for just a moment, and Hokutofuji catching him out, pivoting to completely disrupt the Ozeki’s balance and slamming him to the clay. Solid hatakikomi win, and Hokutofuji joins the 2-0 club.

Takakeisho defeats Nishikigi – Fans hoping that Takakeisho can clear kadoban can go ahead and take another breath. Takakeisho waited for Nishikigi to reach in to attempt a belt grip, and dropped him to the clay with a tsukiotoshi. Solid plan, solid execution. Both are now 1-1.

15 thoughts on “Aki Day 2 Highlights

  1. Asanoyama re-settling by getting really wide and low was a thing of beauty to watch. Using the tawara to regain his balance while also getting a mawashi grip, that is Ozeki-level sumo. Not Yokozuna-level yet; that’d be not getting in trouble in the first place. But this bout is a great sign that Asanoyama should be on the fast track back to the upper ranks.

    Other honorable mentions today:

    One: Takayasu using some Abi-zumo to completely bamboozle Ryuden was a hint of the rikishi he once was.

    Two: Hokutofuji’s famed lower body again carried the day. He had a solid foundation while Hoshoryu got too much ahead of himself.

    Three: Mitakeumi refusing to do anything but his plan for the day (head into chest) was totally the right call against a defensive opponent like Takarafuji. The former Ozeki just has more oomph than the technician.

    Four: Kinbozan looks healthy, and ready to wreck the lower Maegashira ranks. Dark horse week two contender, perhaps?

    Five: It’s not spectacular, but Kirishima is just marching along, gathering wins to clear kadoban. This might not be his basho in the end, but I feel it is one that will get him back on the right track.

  2. Is that really a possibility, that Asanoyama is banned from reclaiming Ozeki? This is the first I’ve heard of this, and I had been assuming he would almost certainly be getting Ozeki back within the coming year. If he’s not allowed to be Ozeki after 33 wins he should just quit, because that would be bullshit. Let the sumo association try to market their pair of 300-pound Ozeki and mediocre prospects like Hokuseiho and Kinbozan.

    • Given he’s done things the right way since he came back, I think it’s incredibly unlikely they’d not promote him with 33 wins. But 32 wins at sekiwake won’t cut it. He shouldn’t count on the benefit of the doubt (which he did get the first time), nor will he likely make yokozuna without two consecutive outright bashos as ozeki. But that’s way ahead of ourselves.

      • It is not at all certain that 33 wins will cut it for Asanoyama. The only two rikishi, who came back to Ozeki rank by doing the full three consecutive bashos Ozeki run with 33+ wins second time are Kaiketsu and Terunofuji, who both did it with 36 wins, and both won Yusho during that second Ozeki run. Miyabiyama did not get return to Ozeki in 2006 with 34 wins with ranks K, S and S.

        • But is there an example of someone not getting Ozeki after 33 wins in Sanyaku? I thought that was basically a guarantee. If there were some special thing in place to prevent specifically Asanoyama from getting top rank, that would be shameful.

          • In the post-1958 six basho era, there are 3 such denials. In addition to the aforementioned Miyabiyama, there’s Baruto in 2006 (12-9-12) and of course Takakeisho’s first promotion case (9-13-11). I’m of the opinion that Asanoyama has served his time and JSA wants him to return to Ozeki, so he’ll be promoted with a solid case, but they could ask for more than the minimal criteria.

            • The difference between those three cases is that Miyabiyama was seeking re-promotion to Ozeki in 2006 after being Ozeki during 2000-2001. Both Baruto and Takakeisho were seeking their first promotion to Ozeki. There are many more cases of getting promoted to Ozeki with 33+ wins than there are denials, or even with less than 33 wins, in recent years 32 wins at sanyaku has been enough.

              With re-promotion to Ozeki after having held the rank previously it seems that the only cases are Kaiketsu and Terunofuji re-promotion to Ozeki with 36 wins, and Miayabiyama re-promotion to Ozeki denied with 34 wins. Based on this one has to question whether the regular promotion criteria are applicable for the re-promotion to Ozeki?

              • With an n of 3, it’s really hard to tell, especially with only one denial and the many possible explanations for that one (very weak tenure at ozeki before demotion, unconvincing 3rd basho in the run…) I don’t remember any talk at the time of Terunofuji’s return run that he needed to do more than usual; he of course made sure of promotion emphatically with his 12-3 yusho, but my guess is he would have been fine with double digits.

    • If he puts up the numbers, I will bet that he would be repromoted. There was a little discussion with Terunofuji that they might set the bar a little higher but he definitely cleared it with 36 wins, yusho, 2 jun-yusho. There’s no telling if they will set a higher bar for Asanoyama. We’ll see.

  3. Yep, you made (or ruined?) my day, yet again, with “Ole’ Stompy”. I used to have a beagle that, as he got old, would stomp in circles for a long time before deciding his bed was OK to use. I called it the “Ole’ Stompy” routine. Now in my head I see Hokutofuji stomping around in circles on his futon to soften it up for the post lunch nap. Purely imagination, but part of the fun of the blog.

    On a more serious subject, which side of the scale is heavier – the financial benefit of Ozeki Asanoyama or the history? Assuming the quality of the sumo make the question relevant int he first place that is.

  4. Hoshoryu made a tactical error by going for a makikae when there was too much separation between his and Hokutofuji’s hips, meaning he would have to reach long and low to get the belt. When Hoshoryu released pressure on Hokutofuji’s left arm he reacted instantly with precisely the correct counter.

  5. If this basho will be a fraction as interesting as Nagoya, it will be good.

    I’ve been following my local Kanagawa prefecture man Tomokaze’s slow progress back from obscurity in Makushita. A nasty right knee injury flung him out of Makuuichi only after five promising basho.

    I was delighted to see him return to Juryo this year. He was a co-leader in July finishing with a strong 10-5 at Juryo 9. That propelled him to Juryo 3 now. He had a good win against fellow Juryo 3 Mitoryu today. I am a little concerned about Tomokaze’s right foot that was bandaged up.

    If he does as well this time around as he did in Nagoya, I hope 🤞🏼 along with the Makuuichi “Juryo barge” attrition, Tomokaze will make his Makuuichi return in Fukuoka in November.


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