Aki Day 8 Highlights

Hakuho 800 Wins

The mischievous spirits of the fall tournament came to visit nakabi, the middle day of the tournament. Their children – chaos, surprise and disorder – were supposed to sit in the stands, but instead went to play on the dohyo. Today was a day of the odd and the unexpected. Many rikishi tasted a surprising defeat, and some long-struggling rikishi claimed a shocking win.

Hakuho racked up his 800th win as a Yokozuna. The man is running out of records to break. There is a committee somewhere in the bowels of the Sumo Association working on inventing new ones for him to strive for. Seriously, the man is the Michael Jordan of sumo.

Highlight Matches

Aminishiki defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki buys Aminishiki’s somewhat relaxed henka, and Uncle Sumo grabs Kotoyuki by the neck and leads him around like a prized calf, finishing him with a tokkurinage, a two-handed head twist down. Note this is the first time tokkurinage has been used in Makuuchi [since 1953 –PinkMawashi].

Takanoiwa defeats Takanosho – Newcomer Takanosho surprised Takanoiwa with a strong attack out of the tachiai. But he failed to block Takanoiwa’s left hand outside grip, and Takanoiwa took control, winning the match. Takanoiwa’s return to Makuuchi looks secure for now. Good to see him in proper fighting form.

Ishiura defeats Okinoumi – Ishiura wins, without using a henka!

Yoshikaze defeats Sadanoumi – After a pair of matta, Yoshikaze engages in some fine denshamichi-sumo, advancing strongly out of the tachiai and never letting up. Yoshikaze up to 6 wins, but seems to be fading a bit. Hopefully he has enough genki left for 2 more wins.

Aoiyama defeats Nishikigi – Aoiyama stays on his feet today, and begins the match with his favored oshi-zumo. Nishikigi manages to break contact, recovers and takes the fight to Aoiyama, who quickly lands a double inside grip and throws Nishikigi. A much needed win for Aoiyama, who was limping after the match. It’s clear that heavily bandaged left knee is causing him problems.

Ryuden defeats Hokutofuji – Ryuden hands Hokutofuji his first loss of the basho. Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” ended up too high, and Ryuden was able to work underneath Hokutofuji’s high hand placement, forcing Hokutofuji back. From there Hokutofuji was on defense, and Ryuden moved to a double inside grip and advanced to the bales. That was what it took, and Hokutofuji never recovered.

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Onosho goes chest to chest with Kotoshigiku at the tachiai, which its written on the safety card you are never supposed to do. I will say that it’s quite likely Onosho has complicated the recovery from his knee injury, and will need to take some time after the basho to get his undercarriage back to working order. Onosho was clearly frustrated following this loss.

Myogiryu defeats Tochiozan – Myogiryu got inside early and focused on center mass. Finding himself without options, Tochiozan attempted a pull-down, and released forward pressure. This was all it took for Myogiryu to prevail. The basics of oshi-zumo are simple, yet oh so challenging. Get inside your opponent’s defense. Focus your blows center-mass, and no matter how hard you are getting hit, keep them centered against your body and keep your hips and feet moving forward.

Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – Hapless Takarafuji has nothing this basho, and Asanoyama seems to enjoy the struggle he provides much the same way an angler enjoys the battle with his supper. Asanoyama advances to 6-2 in spite of Takarafuji’s double inside grip.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyonokuni – Looks like both rikishi thought it should have been a matta, but with none called, the fight was on. Furthermore it’s pretty clear that Kagayaki landed first. Not one of the better examples of officiating this basho. [Grumpy sumo fan noises. –PinkMawashi]

Shohozan defeats Abi – Abi gets high in the tachiai, and begins his double arm thrusts to Shohozan’s upper body. Shohozan was free to attack underneath, and he responded strongly, knocking Abi off balance, and moved him backward. Never one to ease up, Shohozan continued to advance and Abi collapsed under the attack.

Chiyotairyu defeats Endo – Seriously, Endo seems to be completely wrecked right now. It’s a shame to watch him fight each day with so little power and so little forward pressure. Clearly his support team needs to Shanghai him to the nearest sports medicine clinic and keep him there for a couple of weeks. At least Chiyotairyu got to rack up another win.

Takakeisho defeats Kaisei – I do love how Takakeisho is not even slightly intimidated by the giant Kaisei. He launches full bore into the tachiai, and bounces off. Completely unworried and un-phased, the attacks. This reminds me of my cat, who no matter how badly he falls off the top of the book case, carries on as if it was all going according to plan. Takakeisho keeps up the attack, but his “wave action” is working perfectly to keep Kaisei away form his mawashi. During one wave, Takakeisho catches Kaisei too far forward, and he thrusts him down. Outstanding tactics from Takakeisho.

Ikioi defeats Mitakeumi – Ikioi, who has no wins this basho, who has never won against Mitakeumi, probably shreds Mitakeumi’s attempt to reach Ozeki. It was a pure battle of oshi-power, and Ikioi was generating more forward pressure than I have seen him use all basho. Mitakeumi was completely disrupted and couldn’t formulate or execute any response. If a winless Ikioi can spank you in under 10 seconds, your Ozeki bid needs some rework.

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Goeido “The Executioner” puts the iron to Tochinoshin’s struggle to clear kadoban. Any time Goeido gets to dictate the terms of a match, everything happens in fast forward. Goeido blasts out of the tachiai, gets a left hand outside grip, and never slows down. In the blink of an eye, Tochinoshin realizes he’s doomed and tries for some kind of pull at the bales, but he’s already out.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – This is the challenge with Shodai, like some kind of cartoon character, he can be this big squishy marshmallow man who loses all the time. Then, without warning, he transforms back into megazord Shodai and can dismantle anyone on the dohyo. First off, Shodai’s tachiai actually was lower and maybe a bit stronger than Takayasu’s. Takayasu had him in a nodowa, but decided to pull – Shodai was clearly ready for this, and took advantage of the Ozeki shifting his weight to his back foot. Shodai advanced, and drove his arms inside. Takayasu now gets worried, focuses on blocking Shodai’s grip, and loses focus on his balance. Shodai does not let this go, and drives Takayasu to the clay.

Kakuryu defeats Ichinojo – Kakuryu took his time, Ichinojo gave up at the bales. Ichinojo’s fighting spirit needs a refill. Kachi-koshi for Kakuryu.

Tamawashi defeats Kisenosato – adding further fuel to my “Kisenosato’s out of genki” concept, Tamawashi gets his first win of the basho against a flagging Yokozuna. From the tachiai, Tamawashi landed both hands on Kisenosato’s shoulders, and his legs never stopped driving. Kisenosato did not have the energy to stop him, to set up a defense or even really slow down the loss. Tamawashi’s nodowa out of the tachiai was instrumental in raising Kisenosato high enough that the forward pressure was maximally effective. Outstanding sumo from Tamawashi today.

Hakuho defeats Yutakayama – 800th win for the dai-Yokozuna! In true Hakuho form, it was over in the blink of an eye. The returning Yutakayama only had a split second to imagine himself giving Hakuho a vigorous fight, and he was sliding face first across the clay. Kachi-koshi for Hakuho.

Aki Day 8 Preview

Aki Day 8 Toys.jpg

Welcome to Nakabi! It’s the middle day of the Aki basho, and it’s been a welcome throwback to the sumo of two years ago, with the great and the strong stomping through the torikumi, leveling devastation on the records of the upper Maegashira, and everyone wondering where this level of excitement has been for the last year. While we all hope that this is a harbinger of a return to full tournaments full of healthy and combative Ozeki and Yokozuna, it may be more of a brief respite from the slow fade into the next generation of leading athletes.

Much to our surprise, Yutakayama has returned to the basho, and as a welcome-back gift, the scheduling crew has assigned him to face Hakuho for day 8. Depending on how severe his elbow injury was, it may get much worse in any fight against The Boss.

As is customary, on day 8 we begin to watch the yusho race. There are an impressive four rikishi who remain undefeated, and another four with only one loss. For the next several days, we will see the team that creates the torikumi (the match schedule) work to pare down this list to just a handful of competitors during the final act of the basho. At the moment, all three Yokozuna, two of the Ozeki and three lower ranked rikishi are all in the running. This can only mean one thing – some powerful sumo in the days ahead.

Aki Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho, Takayasu, Hokutofuji
Chasers: Kisenosato, Goeido, Mitakeumi, Ryuden
Hunt Group: Tochinoshin, Abi, Asanoyama, Takanoiwa, Yoshikaze

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotoyuki vs Aminishiki – Uncle Sumo returns to Makuuchi to fill the imbalance in the banzuke, and he faces the struggling Kotoyuki. I note with some disappointment that Kotoyuki seems to have returned to his habit of taking a dive into the crowd and staying there for prolonged periods of time. They are evenly matched at 4-4. If Aminishiki keeps up his pace, he is a good bet for a record setting return to Makuuchi.

Sadanoumi vs Yoshikaze – After a blistering 5-0 start to Aki, Yoshikaze has dropped two bouts in a row, neither of which were against overwhelming opponents. His fans (myself included) hope this is not a reversion to whatever injury or malady caused him to lose day after day in Nagoya.

Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – I would expect Aoiyama to club the smaller Nishikigi into oblivion with his massive arms. But each match during Aki has been an exercise in seeing what way Aoiyama would stumble, fall or tumble for a loss. It’s a good bet he has trouble with one or both legs, and is trying to make it through the tournament any way he can.

Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – An interesting match as it pairs a 1-loss rikishi in Ryuden with an undefeated rikishi in Hokutofuji. Given that Hokutofuji is 4 ranks higher in the banzuke, this is Ryuden’s invitation to drop off the leaderboard, but Ryuden holds a 2-1 career advantage. If Hokutofuji wins, he gets an early kachi-koshi.

Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Also in the “likely hurt” category is Onosho. His oshi style of sumo will be a bit of extra work for Kotoshogiku, but I suspect that Onosho may be too banged up to keep the Kyushu Bulldozer from belly bumping him out of the ring.

Takarafuji vs Asanoyama – First ever match between the two, Asanoyama has been executing some top-rate sumo for Aki, while Takarafuji has been struggling. I will guess that Asanoyama holds a slight edge, and will likely take a lot of punishment during the first moments of the match, then surge with an attempt to disrupt and defeat Takarafuji. Hopefully we will see some good strategic sumo.

Shohozan vs Abi – As strategic as the prior match might be, this will be pure, raw, high-energy chaos. Both rikishi love a wild fight with arms, legs and anything else flailing about in a vortex of sumo combat. Abi holds a 3-1 advantage over “Big Guns”, and for reasons I can’t explain, Abi-zumo still seems to be working.

Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Also in the “too hurt to fight credibly” bin, we find dear old Endo. You’re not fooling anyone, especially Chiyotairyu who has the kinetic energy to launch you back into the shitaku-beya from the tachiai.

Kaisei vs Takakeisho – Another fine puzzle for Takakeisho, the man who seems to approach each challenge with an undaunted mental state where he is convinced today is the day he can do anything. He has never beaten Kaisei. It remains to be seen if he can beat Kaisei. Kaisei usually comes to the match having had some food that day, because otherwise he might be tempted to squash and eat Takakeisho. But we know Takakeisho is going to step on the dohyo and blaze away. Maybe today IS his day.

Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – A gimme for Mitakeumi? Ikioi has never beaten him, and has ZERO wins at Aki. A loss today for Ikioi, and he is make-koshi. Who else thinks Ikioi and Endo should go home now and see the doctor Monday morning? Ah well, that’s not the sumo way. Thus far Mitakeumi continues to chart a steady course towards his Ozeki goal, but he has to make it through the remaining Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks first.

Goeido vs Tochinoshin – It’s a bit early for the Ozeki wars to start, but we are excited for this match. Tochinoshin is in dire need of 3 wins, but right now the upgraded Goeido 2.2 seems to be fighting about as well as you could ever want. Tochinoshin will want to slow the match down and use his amazing strength. Goeido will want to create a blaze of chaos at the tachiai to keep Tochinoshin guessing what to do next while Goeido disrupts his sumo and blows him out of the ring. Match history of 15-10 favoring Goeido means only one thing – each of them as a battle plan.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Is today the day that Shodai rallies and takes down a much higher ranked opponent? No, sadly I am pretty sure it won’t be. Whatever Takayasu’s injuries were at the start of Aki, he has put them aside and is dominating every match. A day 8 kachi-koshi would be a wonderful mark, and this match is a good opportunity to do just that.

Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – I am fairly sure Ichinojo will be vacating his Sekiwake slot for Kyushu unless he rallies and uses that enormous body of his for something. Right now I am sure he is trying to get his old job as a piling in the Yokohama sea wall back, just in case. What will Kakuryu do to him day 8? I am pretty sure the Yokozuna will win, but won’t risk injury to Ichinojo.

Kisenosato vs Tamawashi – I think we are going to see Kisenosato struggle and possibly lose this match. I say this because he seems to be running short of the overwhelming strength in the early match that is a hallmark of his wins. Tamawashi is no easy challenger, and if he can get Kisenosato moving in response to his oshi-attacks, the Yokozuna will be in deep trouble. A genki Kisenosato has a very heavy stance, and moves like a mountain on parade. He showed some of that earlier in the basho, but he has gotten lighter each day. We are all pulling for him to hit at least 8.

Yutakayama vs Hakuho – Welcome back from kyujo, Yutakayama! We would like you to be shot from a cannon into the Sumida river, but the cannon is out for maintenance. So you get to fight Hakuho instead. A win today would be his 800th as a Yokozuna. I have heard a rumor that they are going to invent new records just so he can put his name on them, such as most harite during a tachiai.

Natsu Day 14 Highlights

The-Boulder

Great day of sumo… Our operatives inside the Kokugikan report that the Great Cat himself was well pleased with today’s activities, and blessed sumo fans with some fantastic matches. Find a way to watch all of day 14.

Nagoya has enormous potential, given today’s results. I will discuss more in the day 15 preview. The Natsu yusho is for Kakuryu to lose now, and his sumo was absolutely amazing today. Many sumo fans had dismissed Kakuryu in the prior year, perhaps thinking he was lazy, or would rather not compete. His style of sumo is rather unique, and it’s quite difficult to watch at times. Many fans want to see an all out, guns blazing battle. Where the best attack wins. Sometimes, the best attack is not to try and overpower your opponent, but rather to keep your opponent from winning. It’s somewhat alien in western sports, but it’s amazing to see Kakuryu use it with such great effect.

In Juryo, we are indeed going to have a final day barnyard brawl for the yusho. There are 3 Juryo rikishi with 11 wins at the end of day 14: Onosho, Kotoeko and Tsurugisho. I urge you to find and watch Kotoeko’s day 14 match – because he is bringing that kind of sumo to Makuuchi in Nagoya.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Kyokutaisei – Ishiura wins doing actual sumo. This is noteworthy.

Aoiyama defeats Daiamami – A large man oshi-matsuri, with Aoiyama once again focusing on his opponents head. This is not really working for him, and then he decides, “Yeah, let’s put some force center-mass!”, and shifts to Daiamami’s chest. Hey! Look, out goes Daiamami! Aoiyama gets his 8th win and his kachi-koshi.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tochiozan – Chiyonokuni takes it to 11, and hands Tochiozan his make-koshi. I would guess we may see Chiyonokuni pick up a special prize, and that would be his first! If he can stay this genki, he is going to be a lot of fun in Nagoya.

Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu having a great basho, but Takakeisho seems to have snapped back into his sumo finally, and he’s on a mission. I am so eager now for Nagoya, as Takakeisho will be in the top half of the banzuke, Onosho will be back, and it’s going to be tadpole time.

Yoshikaze defeats Nishikigi – First match resulted in a monoii, and a re-match. Second match was a clear Yoshikaze win. It’s still possible for him to pick up a kachi-koshi on the final day, when his opponent will be Abi. That, dear readers, could be a wild and chaotic match.

Kagayaki defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama failed to get his kachi-koshi today, and will have to hope for a win on the final day. Kagayaki continues to execute solid, basic sumo, and has been winning with it. Any hopes Kagayaki has for double digits are going to be tempered by his final day bout against Chiyonokuni. Yikes!

Aminishiki defeats Ryuden – Ryuden (now 2-12) in a world of hurt with the Nagoya banzuke now, as Uncle Sumo uncorks some kind of magic genki sauce and blasts him out of the ring after some preliminary struggle. As always, the crowd in the Kokugikan goes nuts whenever Aminishiki is on the dohyo, and goes double nuts when he wins.

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyomaru – Sadanoumi somehow survives a really powerful osha-battle with Chiyomaru to pick up his kachi-koshi. To me it looks like Chiyomaru had a tough time getting into basho mode, and is struggling with his sumo. Maybe a bit too much mass from the bulbous one? Sadanoumi lands his 8th win and can take comfort in his kachi-koshi.

Shohozan defeats Daieisho – This one was another in a series of Shohozan brawls disguised as sumo matches. Both men were going for some kind of painful death grip on the other, and the winning move was a nicely executed watashikomi thigh trip. Shohozan can still finish kachi-koshi if he wins day 15.

Tamawashi defeats Ikioi – Tamawashi switches to freight-train / densha michi mode and runs Ikioi down the tracks, improving to 7-7 going into the final day.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kaisei – Kotoshogiku kachi-koshi!!! The two go chest to chest straight away, and the enormous mass of Kaisei is clearly near the limit for the Kyushu Bulldozer. But he revs up, engages his tracks and lowers his blade.

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – What the hell Shodai? Again, his mechanics are abysmal, but his instincts are dead on. Big outcome of this match may be the fact that Shodai seems to have crushed Mitakeumi’s right ankle when they both went to cuddle the kita-kata shimpan.

Kakuryu defeats Tochinoshin – Watch this match, maybe a few times. Tochinoshin really puts a lot into this match, and Kakuryu does some of his best “Big K Sumo” ever. Kakuryu is a reactive sumo expert. His plan is to stalemate Tochinoshin until he makes some kind of mistake, and then use that mistake to finish him. Tochinoshin immediately goes to land his left, and Kakuryu shuts that down, opting for a palm to the face. Tochinoshin tries to go left again, and gets a bit of a grip, but Kakuryu shifts his hips and denies him leverage. Tochinoshin now has a double outside grip on Kakuryu’s loose mawashi, and can’t find a way to keep the Yokozuna from shifting around, robbing Tochinoshin of his ability to lift and shift (his primary weapon). Kakuryu is deep double inside, and leaning in at 45 degrees, stalemate for the Georgian Ozeki hopeful. Tochinoshin tries to pull out a leg trip, but Kakuryu is too far back for the trip, shifting his hips again as Tochinoshin is now dangerously unbalanced. Kakuryu advances, and Tochinoshin tries to pivot for a throw, further impeding his defensive stance, Kakuryu has his opening now, raises his foot and pops a trip against Tochinoshin’s left knee (the good one), and collapses the Georgian at the tawara. Holy smokes! What a match!

Ichinojo defeats Hakuho – Sumo fans could have ended their day with the Kakuryu v Tochinoshin match with satisfaction, but the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan had one last treat in store for us. The Boulder squared off against the dai-Yokozuna, but this was not the passive version of Ichinojo today. Huge, powerful and motivated, Hakuho, who is clearly not quite at full power, had his hands full with 500 pounds of pony tossing, ice cream eating behemoth. Hakuho unleashed a pair of his usually disruptive moves at the outset, but Ichinojo must have gone into the match with the intent to endure the Yokozuna’s initial attacks however he could. It seems he wanted to play a longer game. With Hakuho’s initial gambits exhausted, they spent a moment leaning chest to chest in the center of the dohyo. As Ichinojo moved to advance, Hakuho timed a weight shift to load a throw against Ichinojo. Ichinojo sensed the Yokozuna shifting for leverage, and took advantage of it, pivoting into the uwatenage as the Yokozuna went to the clay. Kokugikan erupts, cushions fly and it’s ice cream and ponies for everyone.

Natsu Day 13 Highlights

Kakuryu Day 13

I note with great enthusiasm that the Juryo yusho is coming down to a final weekend barnyard brawl of epic proportions. Even though I am greatly enjoying my beautiful TV Japan feed now, it sadly does not include Juryo that I must find some other way to watch. Tied with 10 wins each at the end of day 13 are: J1w Onosho, J2e Kotoeko, J4e Meisei and all the way down at J14e Tsurugisho.

The big news from day 13 is that Tochinoshin lost today against Shodai of all people. I have to credit Shodai for stalemating Tochinoshin’s attack, and for reading the right time to drop the big Georgian to the clay. With this loss, Day 14’s match against Kakuryu is more or less going to decide the yusho. A Kakuryu win would open the amazing possibility we could end day 15 with a 3-way 13-2 playoff between both Yokozuna and the presumptive shin-Ozeki. If you think I am going to stay up all night to watch that, should it unfold, you are right.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Asanoyama – Strange little match that ended when Asanoyama staggered towards the tawara and fell down. Kimarite was listed as hatakikomi, but looked more like a slippiotoshi.

Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – My earlier assumption about Chiyonokuni is clearly wrong, and he keeps up the pressure. His win today saw him defuse a decent throw attempt by Sadanoumi.

Nishikigi defeats Daiamami – The survivor giving himself some breathing room for the Nagoya banzuke. This was a great yotsu match, with both men really giving it a lot of effort. This style of sumo favors Nishikigi, as his eyesight is rather poor, and when he had his opponent in a chest to chest position, it negates the problems with his eyes.

Takakeisho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama’s superior reach stymied after the hit and bounce back tachiai. Aoiyama continued to land meaty blows to Takakeisho’s face, but it seems Takakeisho decided to endure it, and kept thrusting center-mass, as is his preferred technique. Aoiyama may have been enjoying himself to the point he did not notice that Takakeisho had him moving in reverse. Takakeisho kachi-koshi. Nagoya may be the revenge of the tadpoles.

Aminishiki defeats Okinoumi – Uncle sumo wins another, and he looked fairly good with this one. Aminishiki was known to be in less that optimal condition before the start of the basho, and his record is quite miserable. But it was good to see him use a somewhat rickety but effective uwatenage for a win.

Kagayaki defeats Myogiryu – Kagayaki racks up his kachi-koshi in a really solid win. Again I will state that this guy focuses on sumo fundamentals, and you can see great sumo from him almost any day. A bit more mass, a lot more muscle and a bit more seasoning and this guy is going to be a handful.

Kyokutaisei defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze really is a half step or full step slower than he was a year ago. Kyokutaisei continues to look strong in his debut tournament.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru surged out strongly at the tachiai, and almost had Tochiozan out, but Tochiozan rallied, and Chiyomaru found it tough to do anything other than continuously back away. Tochiozan wins the match and is kachi-koshi. Chiyomaru is now make-koshi.

Abi defeats Takarafuji – Abi uses his preferred opening gambit once again, and it is only partially effective on Takarafuji, who keeps working inside. But even Takarafuji’s solid sumo fundamentals are breaking down due to Abi’s near ridiculous proportions. With Takarafuji applying pressure at the extreme end of Abi’s reach, Abi releases the pressure and lets Takarafuji fall.

Shohozan defeats Endo – This match was a running brawl that underscores just how poor the decision was to have Endo return. Shohozan can win out and still get kachi-koshi, Endo is headed south on the banzuke for Nagoya.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – They went yotsu right away, with Mitakeumi getting a double inside grip, but this is not normally a problem for Kotoshogiku. Fantastic battle of strength that featured Kotoshogiku disrupting Mitakeumi’s repeated attempts to finish him. I am going to guess Kotoshogiku’s knees are in better working order these days, and that’s nothing but a recipe for fun. The yorikiri came with Mitakeumi unleashing a Kotoshogiku style hip pumping attack. Nice match

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – Shodai has been stumbling through his matches this tournament, and somehow he took down the presumptive shin-Ozeki. The key was blowing Tochinoshin’s repeated attempt at a grip, until he lunges forward to land his left, and Shodai backpedals with vigor, leaving Tochinoshin falling flat to the clay. This came as a huge surprise to everyone, but in general the crowd seemed to thing it was a wonderful thing. This loss opens the yusho race again, and it just gets crazy this weekend. Who would have though Shodai could do what Hakuho could not? Shodai kachi-koshi.

Hakuho defeats Ikioi – I am going to say it, The Boss is only about 80% right now. Who cares why. He’s still the dai-Yokozuna, and he’s still going into the final weekend with 11 wins. Ikioi once again looked solid, persistent and aggressive. This was harder for Hakuho than his fans would expect.

Kakuryu defeats Ichinojo – Big K now tied for the yusho, and the possibility that he could earn his goal of back-to-back yusho is now within reach. This match was a mawashi battle, with Kakuryu taking the fight to The Boulder on his own terms. Even though Ichinojo used the tawara to help make himself immobile, Kakuryu affirmed that he is the Yokozuna, and overcame. He faces Tochinoshin to possibly decide the Emperor’s cup tomorrow.

Natsu Day 12 Highlights

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The big match is history, and we know that we will have a new Ozeki. The NHK broadcast team did a lot to tease and play up the basho-defining match, and I must admit they did it well. The battle itself did not disappoint. Starting Nagoya we will see three Ozeki in action, and at least one Yokozuna.

Tough day to be seated by the dohyo, as a number of rikishi went flying into the first row of cushions.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Aminishiki – As if Uncle Sumo did not have enough problems, his knee looked to be working poorly after he took a dive into a ringside fan at the end of his match.

Asanoyama defeats Arawashi – The first match resulted in a monoii, and a rematch. These two were battling to throw each other the first time, and they both succeeded. Second match was much more straightforward, but for a moment it looked like they would both try mirror-image throws yet again.

Daishomaru defeats Nishikigi – Straightforward match, but Daishomaru scores his kachi-kochi.

Yoshikaze defeats Daiamami – Daiamami is now make-koshi, and Yoshikaze picks up an unusual kimarite, okurinage (a rear throw down).

Kagayaki defeats Takekaze – Takekaze is also make-koshi now, and may be on his way back to Juryo depending on how the remaining bouts play out.

Takakeisho defeats Chiyoshoma – Takakeisho picks up his 5th straight win, and is starting to look closer to his prior self. I think he still has some recovery to do, but Nagoya might be labeled “The Tadpoles Strike Back”.

Myogiryu defeats Takarafuji – One of the biggest banzuke gaps on the fight card for day 12, and the lower ranked man wins. The match swung between a grip and pushing match, and a bit of run and gun. Takarafuji kept working to grab a hold of Myogiryu, which he eventually achieved. But some fantastic maneuvering by Myogiryu broke Takarafuji’s grip, and handed the commanding position to Myogiryu for the win.

Shodai defeats Shohozan – These two played bumper cars for a moment, but Shodai mustered a burst of strength and with one mighty shove, gave Shohozan the heave-ho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Mitakeumi – When Chiyotairyu’s cannonball tachiai works, you can almost feel it through the video. The impact of those two bodies probably reverberated through the tunnels of the Edo line for 2 minutes. Chiyotairyu avoids make-koshi, and Mitakeumi avoids kachi-koshi.

Kaisei defeats Endo – Well, not sure why Endo came back. He’s been ineffective and is risking compounding that injury.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo goes chest to chest early, possibly confident that his ponderous bulk will be too much for Kotoshogiku to maneuver. WRONG. Kotoshogiku is relentless, working to get and then keep Ichinojo off balance and moving. Once The Boulder is in motion, The Kyushu Bulldozer deftly maneuvers his out.

Kakuryu defeats Ikioi – Ikioi gave it everything he could muster, but Kakuryu was all over the place, swapping attack plans in the blink of an eye. Ikioi stayed steady, but Kakuryu’s combat-spam is designed to overwhelm his opponents decision loop, and it was only a matter of time before Ikioi was caught trying to dodge the last move and not the blow that was coming. Kakuryu wants the yusho, but his mind has to be on Tochinoshin Saturday.

Tochinoshin defeats Hakuho – Hakuho decides he will concede the form and go chest to chest with Tochinoshin. I am not sure if it was hubris of wanting to add a touch of the unexpected. But Tochinoshin of Natsu 2018 was ready for this, and responded with power and strength that could not be matched. After a brief struggle, Tochinoshin had complete control over the Yokozuna and took him to the edge, and out.