With day 10 complete, act 2 of the Aki basho is closed. 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. The yusho race is a bit odd as of today. With Atamifuji winning his head to head with Takayasu, he’s alone atop the leader board. Takayasu is the only rikishi who is close, occupying a sole position on win behind. Everyone else is 2 wins behind Atamifuji, and only one rikishi in that group has prior yusho experience, Ozeki Takakeisho.
Clearly if they want to make a race out of this, we are going to see Atamifuji face some high ranking rikishi soon. They need him to pick up 2 more losses in order to open it back up for the final weekend. But let’s be clear, it will take some doing to set that up, but I am eager to watch them try. Step 1 – Tobizaru on day 11.
Hokuseiho defeats Nishikifuji – Sometimes, being enormous is a valid sumo strategy. Hokuseiho uses his enormity well today, after Nishikifuji grapples him tightly, Hokuseiho find he is not too tough to lift, and gently carries him over the tawara. Hokuseiho now 6-4.
Kinbozan defeats Tsurugisho – Kinbozan steps to the side and deflects most of Tsurugisho’s forward rush at the tachiai. It was not what I would call a henka, and Tsurugisho certainly did not keep his eye on Kinbozan. A quick left hand grab and toss from Kinbozan, and Tsurugisho is out by uwatedashinage. Kinbozan now 6-4.
Endo defeats Myogiryu – Endo gets in a solid tachiai, which stands Myogiryu up. Myogiryu decides his best option is to try a pull, which fails. Endo exploits that Myogiryu is no longer defending and runs him out. Oshidashi win for Endo, and he is now 7-3.
Midorifuji defeats Kagayaki – Oh Kagayaki, what the hell man? Kagayaki has lost to Midorifuji 3 times out of their 4 matches. Each time its more or less the same thing, a quick grapple, a partial turn and then katasukashi. Look, Kagayaki, next time try something a little different, ok? I love a Midorifuji katasukashi, but some variety would be welcome. Midorifuji now 5-5.
Kotoeko defeats Daishoho – The mini-elimination match goes to Kotoeko, giving Daishoho his 8th loss, and relegating him to demotion to Juryo. Daishoho did not defend his chest well, and allowed Kotoeko to grapple and push at will. Kotoeko now 3-7.
Hiradoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – Perhaps joining Daishoho on the Juryo barge of the damed is none other than Chiyoshoma, who picked up his 8th loss today. As with most days this September, Chiyoshoma fought well, but was unable to close the deal. His attempt to throw Hiradoumi collapsed, and Hiradoumi crumpled him to the clay, improving to 3-7.
Atamifuji defeats Takayasu – The big match of the day, its another day that ends in “y” for Takayasu fans. Takayasu fights well enough, but goes for a pull early in the bought, and gets hurled to his back by Atamifuji. Atamifuji now sole leader at 9-1.
Kotoshoho defeats Oho – Oho decided to accept Kotoshoho’s invitation to a face hitting battle. It went on for some time, until the two broke contact. When they re-engaged, it was a perfect chance for one of them to get the other off balance. Both tried, but Kotoshoho connected well, and heaved Oho from the ring. Kotoshoho improves to 4-6.
Onosho defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi tried to use his speed and agility to get out of Onosho’s way when he was charging forward. It nearly worked, but served to remind Onosho that he needed to bracket his opponent. The next time he made contact, he held Sadanoumi with both arms and rushed him out. Onosho improves to 7-3 by yorikiri.
Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – We got to see a little bit of Aoiyama’s classic V-Twin attack, but it really did not have the power it did even 6 months ago. Ryuden endured it well, and kept moving forward. With his crummy knee, Aoiyama can’t hold ground well, and had to step back. Sadly he was too close to the tawara, and a foot crossed the bales for a loss. Both end the day 3-7.
Mitakeumi defeats Gonoyama – This match did live up to my expectations, it was a power forward thrust and grapple masterpiece. I am so happy we got to see Ozeki Mitakeumi again, and it was for a great cause – give Gonoyama some real challenges to overcome. I am likewise impressed by Gonoyama’s ability to stay in the fight, and give Mitakeumi a real battle. This new guy has a lot of potential. But they both tired, and Mitakeumi was able to swing Gonoyama out like a wayward piece of furniture. Both end the day 6-4.
Takarafuji defeats Shonannoumi – Impressively even fight, both men were committed to a yotsu-zumo battle, and we got a big struggle to see who could out brute the other. The loss came when Shonannoumi broke contact and attempted a hatakikomi, but stepped out before he could complete the move. Takarafuji gets the win, and both end the day 5-5.
Shodai defeats Tamawashi – I thought for a moment that Tamawashi was going to score his first white star today, but a quick move at the bales by Shodai sent him out first, and into Kisenosato’s lap. Shodai improves to 4-6 by sukuinage.
Abi defeats Takanosho – An Abi henka – Takanosho should have been on the lookout for that one. It’s over almost before it started, and Abi is now 6-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru can’t get Hokutofuji off balance with his downward slaps, and is relegated to getting his monkey butt shoved out of the ring. I will point out to readers that once again Hokutofuji’s lower body seems to be its own independently operating sub-system, intent on winning matches no matter what the upper body is doing. In this way he is a close human analog to a typical Chicago Bears team, where the defense (lower body) is just as likely to win the game as the upper body (offense). Hokutofuji improves to 7-3 as the match ends with Tobizaru in the crowd to greet the fans.
Kotonowaka defeats Meisei – Meisei was unable to generate any offense against a very stable Kotonowaka, and was shoved out in short order. Kotonowaka now 6-4.
Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Daieisho continues his dominance over Asanoyama. Asanoyama catches a full Daieisho thrust right in the neck, and is unable to maintain his footing following that much force. A quick tsukiotoshi, and Daieisho improves to 6-4.
Hoshoryu defeats Wakamotoharu – Lightning fast grab from Hoshoryu, he lifts Wakamotoharu and runs him to the bales, dumping him unceremoniously into the east side salt basket. Hoshoryu now 4-6.
Takakeisho defeats Ura – A quick Takakeisho tachiai blast catches Ura full in the chest, tossing him back with force. But the acrobat Ura has just enough in him to strike Takakeisho down as he is once again launched into the air. They land in a heap, and the gumbai goes to Ura. Takakeisho is clearly down first, and the shimpan call for a rematch. Good enough! Second match, Takakeisho stands his ground and slams Ura into the clay as he rushes forward at the tachiai. Hatakikomi win for Takakeisho, and he is now 7-3, one win from clearing kadoban.
Nishikigi defeats Kirishima – Kirishima allowed Nishikigi to get his battle hug, and immediately knew he was in trouble. A strong move by Kirishima to break contact, but it only removed any chance he had to evade the yorikiri that followed. Nishikigi now 5-5.