Haru Day 15 Highlights

We conclude a fine tournament in great style, with a playoff and a yusho for Sekiwake Kiribayama. He was able to beat Daieisho twice today to take him the cup, and score his second consecutive double digit tournament score. His finish in January was 11-4, and earned him the jun-yusho for Hatsu, along with the gino-sho special prize.

Naturally talk will begin to swirl about him being one good tournament away from a possible Ozeki promotion, already have 23 wins over two tournaments. One win each in the last two tournaments have been fusensho, so I am going guess that guidance from the kyokai will be for a strong performance in May.

Congratulations to Kiribayama on a fantastic tournament.

Highlight Matches

Tsurugisho defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki lost this match when he allowed Tsurugisho to capture him. Yes, Kagayaki did have a double inside grip, but he could not muster enough power to do much against Tsurugisho’s ponderous bulk. Tsurugisho ends Osaka with a kachi-koshi at 8-7.

Kinbozan defeats Takanosho – Kinbozan had the inside hand position from the second step, and never really allowed Takanosho an opening to attack. There was a brief moment where Takanosho almost landed a good thrust, but it left him off balance, and Kinbozan finshed him with a sukuinage to finish Osaka 11-4 with a Kanto-sho special prize.

Azumaryu defeats Daishoho – A final win for Azumaryu, they went chest to chest at the tachiai, settling into a mutual right hand inside position. As they struggled for position, you could see Azumaryu working to set up the throw. He never quite completed rotation, but it was enough to get Daishoho stumbling, and he stepped out of the ring. Azumaryu finishes 4-11.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji able to finish in double digits at 10-5. He was able to set up a right hand inside grip on the second step, and quickly drove forward to send Kotoeko out.

Bushozan defeats Myogiryu – Bushozan had his hands inside and in contact with center mass by the second step. He immediately dialed up the forward pressure, and rammed Myogiryu out of the ring and into Oho’s lap. Both finish Osaka 5-10.

Hiradoumi defeats Oho – Oho is denied his kachi-koshi after Hiradoumi attacks well on the first step, and never lets up the pressure for a moment. Oho has no escape plan, and finds himself escorted from the ring in short order. Both finish the basho 7-8.

Mitoryu defeats Aoiyama – Mitoryu is able to end the tournament with a kachi-koshi thanks to his quick ring sense and reaction time. Both are pushing forward with all they can deliver, but Aoiyama momentarily loses traction. Mitoryu reacts with an immediate slap down to pick up his 8th win, and finishes Osaka 8-7.

Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura continues his unquestioned dominance of Chiyoshoma, extending his career record to 8-0. That could have been a matta as Chiyoshoma launched a tad early, but the fight was on. They battled for hand placement until Ura was able to duck inside and attack. He put power forward, and launched himself and Chiyoshoma out of the ring, taking out at least 3 cameramen. Both end the tournament 9-6.

Hokuseiho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had a brief window at the start of this match where he could have won, but Hokuseiho was able to capture Ichiyamamoto with his right hand, and shut down any further offense. They enter a battle hug, and that’s where things stay for a while, with just a few struggle sessions as Ichiyamamoto tries to improve his grip. But lets be honest, there is no way he’s moving Hokuseiho, he’s only making himself tired. After a long time, Hokuseiho decides he’s done. He powers forward and runs Ichiyamamoto out of the ring to finish 9-6.

Takarafuji defeats Hokutofuji – Our only Darwin match, and I am both surprised and delighted to announce that Takarafuji managed to squeeze out a kachi-koshi with an 8-7 finish. There were times last week where I worried he would be back in Juryo in May, but he’s going to stick around the top division for a while longer. Sadly the winning move may have injured Hokutofuji’s already injured right knee. Not what I was hoping he would take him from Osaka, to go with his 7-8 make-koshi.

Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Excellent work by Nishikigi to methodically work his hands to Kotoshoho’s mawashi. Once he had both hands attached, he was in charge and he attack with power, eventually brining Kotoshoho down with an uwatenage. Both end Osaka 6-9.

Ryuden defeats Mitakeumi – Ryuden finds only his second win of the tournament on the final day. Mitakeumi had a solid defense running until a missed move caused him to turn his back on Ryuden for just a moment, and Mitakeumi only recovered with his feet on the bales, but soon had to step out. Ryuden finishes 2-13.

Abi defeats Endo – Endo continues to struggle with Abi-zumo, again we saw him leave Abi to attack at will, and suffered a potent oshitaoshi as a result. Both end Osaka with 9-6.

Shodai defeats Midorifuji – One time yusho race leader Midorifuji suffers his 5th consecutive loss. He had a double inside grip against Shodai by the second step – it was both a blessing and a curse. Once Shodai had his heels on the bales, out came the “Wall of Daikon”, and Shodai bodily rammed forward. With his arms now locked around Shodai, Midorifuji had no escape. The resulting kimedashi pushed him into the front row, and both end the tournament 10-5.

Meisei defeats Tamawashi – Meisei snaps a 6 match losing streak with solid, aggressive sumo. Tamawashi really can’t generate or tolerate any forward pressure this month, and has been a fairly easy mark. Meisei pushes him out into a shimpan, and its a 5-10 finish for him.

Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – An even tachiai evolved into Tobizaru’s superior foot work setting up an uwatenage that sent Sadanoumi tumbling to the clay. Fast and effective, both end the tournament 6-9.

Wakamotoharu defeats Kotonowaka – An impressive 11-4 final score for Wakamotoharu, and it’s his third double digit finish in the past year. Consistency – check. A quick tachiai saw them lock up yotsu-zumo style to fight it out. The finishing move was a tumbling rescue utchari at the edge that saw Wakamotoharu land on his neck. A monoii was called, but the judge’s decision was affirmed, Wakamotoharu had won.

Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – Ah, Hoshoryu. Never change you numb skull. Takayasu has stared down plates of food at his mother’s restaurant more potent than you. Delighted to see Takayasu in good form today. He took his time and dismantled Hoshoryu a piece at a time. He seldom fights like this any more, but this is the form that took him to Ozeki, coupled with almost inhuman endurance. Hoshoryu gives him a good fight, but by about 20 seconds in, it’s clear Takayasu has been building an uwatenage. The throw has to overcome Hoshoryu’s excellent mobility, but Takayasu has ample strength to make it stick. Both end the tournament 10-5.

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – The decider, and Kiribayama does what he needs to and takes out the yusho race leader to end the tournament with a 12-3 tie. Kiribayama played Daieisho perfectly, letting him get his mega-thrust train running, then stepping out of the way. Both win the technique prize, and we have a playoff for the yusho.

Yusho Playoff

Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Kiribayama takes his first Emperor’s Cup, of what I hope will be several. Oddly enough it’s quite similar to their prior match, Daieisho is all power forward, Kiribayama absorbs two volleys then steps to the side. Kōnosuke calls it for Kiribayama, but they want a monoii to make sure. Clearly they are not up against a news break on NHK, so they have plenty of time. But of course Kōnosuke was right, and it’s time for Kiribayama to hoist a big fish.

Thank you, dear readers for sharing the 15 days of Haru with Team Tachiai. We hope you have enjoyed our daily coverage as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. We hope to see you all again during the Natsu basho in May, and please check back for commentary, and sumo news as it happens.

Haru Day 15 Preview

We have come to it, the final day of the Haru basho. It’s been a wild and crazy ride to this point, and there has been a lot of fantastic sumo to enjoy. My heart goes out to all the rikishi who suffered through injuries to keep fighting this March: Ryuden, Azumaryu, and Tamawashi. I suspect Bushozan and Ichiyamamoto too, with a dash of Meisei, and Mitakeumi. I don’t pretend to understand sumo culture, but I have to wonder about how the sport manages its talent.

We have an exciting end to this tournament, the last match on the last day will be the decider. Either Daieisho wins and takes home the cup, or Kiribayama wins, and forces a playoff. Given that Wakamotoharu lost his day 14 match, as did Midorifuji, there is no chance for a multi-way “brawl to end it all” that was a tantalizing hope 24 hours ago.

There is only a single Darwin match, which is kind of a let down, but hey, can’t have ice cream for supper every day, or you end up too much like Ichinojo. On to the bouts.

What We Are Watching Day 15

Kagayaki (5-9) vs Tsurugisho (7-7) – Tsurugisho needs to win to reach kachi-koshi. He will need to best already make-koshi Kagayaki, who holds a 4-2 career lead. There prior match was a year ago on Osaka day 6, and that went to Tsurugisho by yorikiri.

Kinbozan (10-4) vs Takanosho (8-6) – First time match between these two kachi-koshi rikishi. I am happy that Takanosho has his 8, but I would love to see him elevate his score. That’s going to be tough against Kinbozan, who could finish Haru with 11 wins.

Azumaryu (3-11) vs Daishoho (8-6) – I don’t see this one as a “donor” match at all. It’s just that Azumaryu has to fight someone, and Daishoho got the draw. He has a 7-4 career advantage, and he won their prior bout on day 7 of Nagoya 2022.

Kotoeko (8-6) vs Nishikifuji (9-5) – Nishikifuji suffered a mid-basho drought, where he went 1-5, before he resumed winning style, winning his last 3 in a row. He’s only fought Kotoeko once before, on day 1 of Aki 2022. He won by hatakikomi. Both are kachi-koshi.

Myogiryu (5-9) vs Bushozan (4-10) – Both are make-koshi in this first ever match between them. Both have deep make-koshi records, and I think Bushozan is likely to be on the Juryo barge tomorrow night.

Oho (7-7) vs Hiradoumi (6-8) – Well, well, well. Look who it is, our Oho the HoHo, dumpling supreme for March. He decides make-koshi or kachi-koshi with this final match against already make-koshi Hiradoumi. I imagine Hiradoumi may have some frustrations to work out, given he fought pretty well in Osaka, but still is going home with a losing record. He holds a 2-1 career lead over Oho.

Aoiyama (6-8) vs Mitoryu (7-7) – Repeating the pattern above, its Mitoryu with a make or break fight against already make-koshi Aoiyama. I think Aoiyama did pretty well given that his sumo has been hampered by what is probably an injury.

Chiyoshoma (9-5) vs Ura (8-6) – I am happy that both of these guys are kachi-koshi, and can just crank it up and brawl for their final match. Ura holds a 7-0 career record against Chiyoshoma, with a spread of oshidashi and yorikiri in the mix. But my eye catches on that tottari from November 2021.

Ichiyamamoto (4-10) vs Hokuseiho (8-6) – Last match for the Tokyo Skytree this March. He managed to get his kachi-koshi, but I think this was an eye opener for Hakuho’s giant prodigy. He can finish off with a fight against injured Ichyamamoto, and maybe end with 9 wins.

Hokutofuji (7-7) vs Takarafuji (7-7) – The only Darwin match on the final day, and it happens to fall on two well loved veterans of the dohyo. Hokutofuji dominates their career record at 9-4, and I can’t see him losing to an injured Takarafuji today. Frankly, I am amazed that Takarafuji was able to battle back to 7-7, given his condition. Winner gets a kachi-koshi.

Kotoshoho (6-8) vs Nishikigi (5-9) – Both are make-koshi, and this is really about who gets the bigger shove down the banzuke for May. Kotoshoho has a bit of an edge, with a 6-4 career record, but Nishikigi has won 2 of the last 3 matches.

Mitakeumi (4-10) vs Ryuden (1-13) – In the scratch and dent bin, it’s one last chance to see if Ryuden can finish with more than one win. Given that he suffers from chronic hip problems, and that seems to be bothering him now, I don’t thing chances are good for him today. He does have a 6-1 career record against Mitakeumi, including his most recent fight on day 11 of Hatsu which Ryuden won by oshidashi.

Abi (8-6) vs Endo (9-5) – Both are already kachi-koshi, and Endo for some reason struggles to shut down Abi-zumo and the double arm thrusting attack. Nearly everyone else on the top half of the banzuke solved this one in 2020 or before, but Endo still is trying to work it out. Endo did win against Abi on day 14 of Hatsu 2023.

Midorifuji (10-4) vs Shodai (9-5) – Hopefully Midorifuji will get a special prize, as he did quite well this basho, and for a time was leading the yusho race. He gets to fight Shodai, who managed to not only reach kachi-koshi, but may finish with double digits as well if he prevails.

Tamawashi (3-11) vs Meisei (4-10) – It’s painful to watch Tamawashi fight, I can’t imagine what it is like for him. But he’s just got to endure one more – against Meisei. Meisei is likely in bad condition as well, so maybe these two can go have a nice drink and try to relieve their pain once this match is over. Both are make-koshi.

Sadanoumi (6-8) vs Tobizaru (5-9) – Another make-koshi pair, they both suffered with being just shy of potent enough to win a handful of their matches, and that left them with losing records. I think we will see them regroup, and hopefully recover for May.

Wakamotoharu (10-4) vs Kotonowaka (9-5) – This is Wakamotoharu’s third double digit winning tournament in the last year. I find his sumo more consistent than his injured brothers, and he might in fact end up being the first of the two to become Ozeki. An 11th win today might help make that case too. I am sure Kotonowaka has something to say about that, wanting to hit 10 himself. Kotonowaka also has a 6-1 career advantage, winning every match since 2020.

Takayasu (9-5) vs Hoshoryu (10-4) – A chance for Takayasu to finish with double digits too, if he can take a final white star from Hoshoryu. He has a 5-1 record against the Sekiwake on the clay, so it’s possible.

Kiribayama (11-3) vs Daieisho (12-2) – The final match of the day, the final match of the tournament. It may decide the yusho, if Daieisho can get his mega-thrust sumo on target and full power before Kiribayama can grab a piece of him and toss him about. Both have performed exceptionally well this March, and either would be a fine champion.

Osaka Day 14 Preview

Welcome to the final weekend! This is where we finish sorting everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and crown the yusho winner who gets to take home the Emperor’s cup. The schedulers have not pushed to get a big crowd of rikishi into a 7-7 record this basho, so there was never really a funnel to drive a group into Darwin matches. But if everything turns out correctly, we could have a few for day 15. Right now there are 10 rikishi with 6-7 or 7-6 scores. Including some famous names.

Haru Leaderboard

With Daieisho in the lead, he controls the outcome right now. Chances are pretty good it will be him who lifts the big red fish on Sunday. He is the only one of the group who has prior yusho experience, and so I think that gives him a bit of an edge. He also seems to be healthy, and his sumo is working quite well at the moment.

Daieisho faces Midorifuji today, and a Midorifuji win would blow the race wide open. I am not sure what his chances are, but that would be quite the exciting turn of events.

Leader: Daieisho
Chasers: Kiribayama, Wakamotoharu, Midorifuji
Hunt Group: Hoshoryu, Kotonowaka, Kinbozan

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Mitoryu (7-6) vs Shonannoumi (7-6) – Shonannoumi visits from Juryo for his first ever match against Mitoryu. The winner gets kachi-koshi and the loser is qualified for a Darwin match.

Myogiryu (5-8) vs Oho (6-7) – Myogiryu is already make-koshi, but if he can manage a win on day 14, he can send to make-koshi. Of course if Oho wins, it’s a Darwin match for him. If sumo had a “most likely to be mistaken for a shrubbery”, my vote would be for Oho right now. Get your sumo together sir!

Tsurugisho (7-6) vs Nishikifuji (8-5) – Tsurugisho is fighting for kachi-koshi today against Nishikifuji. If he loses, yes – Darwin! Tsurugisho has a nearly even career record against the Isegahama man, so it could be a big fight. Will we see another Tsurugisho henka today?

Aoiyama (5-8) vs Bushozan (4-9) – Both of them are already make-koshi, so this is probably to see if Aoiyama can bludgeon out another win, and maybe nominate Bushozan for a Juryo return trip. Someone’s got to take a hike if we are going to get Ichinojo and Asanoyama to the top division in May.

Hokuseiho (7-6) vs Hiradoumi (6-7) – Call this a mini-Darwin, if Hiradoumi loses he is make-koshi, and Hokuseiho kachi-koshi. If he is able to topple the Tokyo Skytree, it’s Darwin time for both of them.

Ichiyamamoto (4-9) vs Takarafuji (6-7) – The good news – I am pretty sure Takarafuji saved himself from making a trip to Juryo, so everything past that is an upgrade. He can still actually finish with a kachi-koshi, but the only way to do it is for him to have a 7-7 score at the end of today, and survive a possible Darwin match tomorrow. He has a 4-1 career record against already make-koshi Ichiyamamoto.

Azumaryu (3-10) vs Ura (7-6) – Lets be clear, this is another “donor” match. Azumaryu will give up a white star to Ura to secure his kachi-koshi in all likelihood. Should Ura lose through some bizarre twist of events, it’s Darwin time for him as well.

Hokutofuji (7-6) vs Chiyoshoma (8-5) – Hokutofuji holds a 7-1 career record against Chiyoshoma, so chances are good he will pick up his 8th win and be kachi-koshi. If not… Darwin!

Kotoeko (8-5) vs Takayasu (8-5) – No Darwin match for either of these guys, they are both already kachi-koshi. But one of them will get a chance to try for double digits. Kotoeko won their only prior match, and may be able to surprise Takayasu today.

Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Kagayaki (5-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is all about who gets what rank. Kotoshoho seems to have recovered some of his fighting form in the last few days, he has won the last 4 in a row.

Mitakeumi (4-9) vs Takanosho (7-6) – A decider for Takanosho, he either can best Mitakeumi today or he faces a Darwin match tomorrow. Personally, I think that Mitakeumi is going to put him on the clay today.

Abi (8-5) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi in this first ever match up, it’s all about deciding rank for the May banzuke. I would love to see Kinbozan surprise Abi today with a rapid grab-and-chuck of his lanky hide out of the ring, just to keep matters interesting, and have Kinbozan finish his maiden basho with double digit wins.

Nishikigi (4-9) vs Ryuden (1-12) – Wow, these two are in dire need of rework. I am going to guess Ryuden is injured and he won’t be his normal level of fierce until he can get his lower back and hips in better condition. In the mean time, I am going to hope that Nishikigi does not attempt a kotenage today and add an elbow injury to Ryuden’s list of problems.

Tamawashi (3-10) vs Sadanoumi (5-8) – This pair is also make-koshi, but it would be good to see Tamawashi do no worse than 5-10 this March. Given how he is struggling day to day, he may be an easy mark for Sadanoumi’s high speed sumo.

Daishoho (8-5) vs Shodai (8-5) – Both start the day with 8-5 records, and Shodai won their only prior match, on day 9 of Kyushu 2019. It almost seems like a different world. Shodai was a Maegashira 10 headed for Ozeki, and there was no such things as COVID-19 causing problems around the world.

Meisei (4-9) vs Tobizaru (4-9) – Both have matching 4-9 records, and I wonder why Tobizaru has done so poorly this basho. He won opening day against Takakeisho, and then has been mostly down hill since then. He will be exiting the san’yaku with the May banzuke, but I am certain he will return.

Daieisho (11-2) vs Midorifuji (10-3) – With the preliminaries out of the way, it’s time for the main event. A Daieisho win will eliminate Midorifuji from the yusho race, a Midorifuji will will open up a tie to start the final day, possibly with multiple rikishi in the lead depending on how the matches that follow turn out. They have fought twice before, and both have won one. The first, day 11 Aki 2022, went o Midorifuji by hikiotoshi. Daieisho evened the score on Kyushu day 12 with a yorikiri win. We all know what must happen here. A glorious, lead busting katasukashi. Midorifuji, please make it so.

Endo (8-5) vs Kotonowaka (9-4) – Both of them have kachi-koshi, but I am certain that Kotonowaka wants to run up the score to double digits if at all possible. He is not quite to the point where he is ready to try for Ozeki the first time, but I think its going to happen this year. Endo loves to play spoiler, but his day 13 sumo was disorganized and sloppy, and he has lost thee in a row. Maybe he can bounce back.

Wakatakakage (7-6) vs Kiribayama (10-3) – Wakatakakage either overcomes a 5-8 career deficit, or it’s time for him to get a well deserved day 15 Darwin match. Frankly, Kiribayama’s sumo has been better over the last 14 days, and I hope he take the win today.

Wakamotoharu (10-3) vs Hoshoryu (9-4) – I guess the question is – can Wakamotoharu force himself into a Sekiwake slot by winning 11 or 12? I would love to see him make the case. He has only won twice in 7 fights against Hoshoryu, who has a strong chance to finish with double digits himself.

Osaka Day 13 Highlights

With the developments on day 13, the scheduling team has a veritable sumo playground for the final weekend. We have so many potential outcomes right now, and so many ways they can match rikishi up and down the banzuke to consider.

Midorifuji endured his third straight loss today at the hands of Hoshoryu, dropping to 10-3 and leaving Daieisho, who won his match against Meisei, the sole leader of the tournament. While he has been de-throned, he is not out of the running yet, as there are two days of high intensity sumo action left in this basho. The crew mathematically in the hunt number at 4, and as of today, any one of them could head back to Tokyo with the hardware.

Highlight Matches

Ichinojo defeats Bushozan – Face slap to start the match by Ichinojjo, followed by mutual shoulder rams. For a moment the are separated, staring angrily at each other. Bushozan decides its time to skip the foreplay, and dives in for a hold. Ichinojo deftly throws him down by uwatenage, and Bushozan breaks his fall with his face. Ichinojo now 12-1.

Mitoryu defeats Takanosho – Mitoryu continues his dominance over Takanosho, who will have to look for his kachi-koshi tomorrow instead. Takanosho puts in the work, but can’t find a way to break Mitoryu’s stance. Mitoryu settles into a right hand… ear hold? Could someone check if a mimiyotsu (耳四) is a thing in sumo? So we have Mitoryu with a (ok, just run with it) mimiyotsu, and Takanosho is rightfully confused. The gyoji is confused, the shimpan look aroused and curious, the fans are wondering where they go from here. In fact, nobody knows for a time, and the two stand there trying to decide if they are still going to fight. The answer turns out to be yes, yes, Mitoryu did not really intend to do that, and they will fight. So it’s back to sumo time, and Takanosho charges ahead, and Mitoryu slaps him down. Both end the day 7-6.

Azumaryu defeats Oho – Let me get this straight. Oho defeats former Ozeki Asanoyama on day 12, who is still fighting like he belongs in san’yaku. Day 13 he loses to an injured guy who has the second to worst record in the basho. It was the old “Grapple – sidestep – push” number, and Oho was oblivious to it all. Fine, be that way. Azumaryu happy for the win, and is now 3-10.

Nishikifuji defeats Hokuseiho – Nishikifuji defeats the Skytree to reach kachi-koshi. Hokuseiho was the aggressor here, but really did not mind his feet or his balance. Nishikifuji dances him around and swings him to the clay a moment before Hokuseiho could finish pushing him out. Nishikifuji kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Takarafuji defeats Myogiryu – Ok, that’s 4 wins in a row for the injured Takarafuji. Unlike acts 1 and 2, Takarafuji seems to have found a way to hold ground, and was able to withstand Myogiryu’s pushing attack at first. Once Myogiryu was able to consolidate and break Takarafuji’s stance, he rushed forward into Takarafuji’s tsukiotoshi. Myogiryu make-koshi at 5-8, Takarafuji improves to 6-7.

Kinbozan defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi has fought well this March, but he was completely out-classed by Kinbozan’s offense today. Kinbozan had the stance, the hand placement and the forward drive to push Hiradoumi back, and quickly put him across the bales to advance to 9-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Aoiyama – That tachiai deflection by Tsurugisho is not something I expected to see in this battle of the mega-fauna. I would not call it a henka, as there was too little speed for that. More like when you see a container ship move from one pier to another. But Tsurugisho managed to get to the side and behind Aoiyama, disrupting all of his offense and defensive plans. A quick grapple and walk for Tsurugisho, and it was yorikiri time. Tsurugisho now 7-6.

Ura defeats Daishoho – Ura remains unbeaten against Daishoho, and today he had a good strong ottsuke to defend against Daishoho’s right hand. Ura follows the block with a break and attack, coming in lower the second time and driving Daishoho back. A solid oshidashi win for Ura, and he is now 7-6.

Kotoeko defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kotoeko picks up kachi-koshi on the donor match, his first kachi-koshi since last year in Osaka. We got to see two volleys of traditional Ichiyamamoto sumo, but then he came under pressure, and tried to pull. Wrong move against the very stable Kotoeko, and Kotoeko ran him out the nearest exit, improving to 8-5.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – I am not sure what Chiyoshoma had in mind, but it fell apart before it could really get started, and he was immediately off balance. Takayasu chased him about, and dumped the stumbling Chiyoshoma into the zabuton row. Takayasu fans can take some comfort that at least he was able to get kachi-koshi, both now 8-5.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – To me it looked like Nishikigi used a variation of the “Wall of Daikon” that is Shodai’s hallmark. Kagayaki had a couple of good hits, but could not get any arm extension, as Nishikigi maintained a close cover. Nishikigi normally likes to get a belt or body hold, but instead just rammed Kagayaki back with his body, winning by oshidashi. Kagayaki make-koshi at 5-8, Nishikigi improves to 4-9.

Sadanoumi defeats Mitakeumi – After being MIA for most of the month, we finally get to see some of Sadanoumi’s speed. Mitakeumi blew the tachiai, with his hands going complete catawampus. As a result Mitakeumi was nearly upright, and a bit off balance. Sadanoumi rotated and thrusted with his left, sending Mitakeumi tumbling into the salt basket. Sadanoumi advances to 5-8.

Shodai defeats Ryuden – Shodai wins his donor match against hapless Ryuden, scoring Shodai a kachi-koshi in the process. A really fast grip change by Shodai set up the double inside hold. From there it was lift and walk ahead, and Ryuden was out. Shodai now 8-5.

Kotoshoho defeats Tamawashi – Kotoshoho is now on a 4 match winning streak, after a terrible start to the basho. He’s finally looking like he should, and he really surprised the fans, and Tamawashi, by that hikiotoshi. Kotoshoho improves to 5-8.

Abi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru gets one moment to attack, but bounces off Abi at the tachiai. Abi moves behind and runs him off of the dohyo for an okuridashi win. Abi gets his kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Compliments to Meisei for holding his ground quite well under the withering mega-thrust attack from Daieisho. It took until the 6th volley before Meisei’s balance was wrecked, and Daieisho pushed him into the waiting gyoji. Daieisho maintains his spot on the leader board at 11-2.

Wakamotoharu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s opening combo was nearly enough to finish Wakamotoharu straight from the tachiai. But he allowed Wakamotoharu to rally, and settle into a left hand inside position. He took a moment to consolidate his stance, then drove forward to win by yorikiri. Wakamotoharu remains one behind the leaders at 10-3.

Kiribayama defeats Endo – We got to see Endo get lost yet again when his left hand failed to do any work at the tachiai. Kiribayama was tack sharp at the initial clash, and got his hands around Endo before turning him and running him out by okuridashi, improving to 10-3.

Hoshoryu defeats Midorifuji – Impressive defense by Midorifuji against Hoshoryu’s opening combo. Hoshoryu brought his right hand up across Midorifuji’s neck and attempted to pull him down, but Midorifuji was able to keep his feet. They then proceed to open up with some outstanding yotsu-zumo attacks, each unable to overwhelm the other. Hoshoryu’s avenue of attack was limited by Midorifuji’s hazu-oshi, but Hoshoryu managed to pivot and lower Midorifuji to the clay. Huge effort by both men, and Hoshoryu is now 9-4.

Wakatakakage defeats Kotonowaka – Ok, that’s seven wins out of the last eight matches for Wakatakakage. He needs to get his week 1 sumo in better condition, and he’s an Ozeki candidate. Kotonowaka gave him a tough fight, and was in control most of the match. But a rescue throw at the bales ended the match. They fell together, and it was declared a rematch (good!). Second try – its all Wakatakakage, who attacks low, dials up the forward pressure and rampages Kotonowaka out in a hurry. Wakatakakage now 7-6.