Nagoya Day 5 Highlights


Kisenosato

Less Crazy, More Pushing, Thrusting, Throws!

Day 5 closed out the first act of the Nagoya basho with a day that seems to have been devoted to pushing, shoving and all things oshi-zumō. Even the big guys got in on it, and the results were really exciting. As noted last night, Endo is out fairly hard, likely for a couple of months with damage to his ankle to compliment the problem he was already having with his ACL.

This means Ura is now on deck to provide fodder for the upper ranks, as the lack of Kakuryu and Endo (and possibly soon Kisenosato and Terunofuji) means that the lower ranked Maegashira will be tapped to participate in joi level bouts that they might normally avoid. Ura looked very good today (more on that below), so he is going to be alright in his joi bouts over the next 10 days.

Terunofuji is clearly very hurt, and I wonder if he is risking the repair work he had done to his knee by competing. With any luck he will be taken aside by his stable master or some official in the NSK and convinced to heal. We may lose 1-2 Yokozuna this year, and it would be really wonderful to see Terunofuji push for a shot at the rope.

As predicted, the retirement rumors are swirling around Yokozuna Kakuryu. Truth be told that he has the speed and skill to perform at Yokozuna levels, but his body is falling apart, and can’t support the intensity of competition that the modern sumo league has adopted. This raises a question that has been rattling my poor tired brain. Are 6 basho per year too many? Should the NSK move to 4? Perhaps 2 in Tokyo and 2 “Not in Tokyo”. With the Not in Tokyo venues changing to bring sumo to a larger area of Japan. I am sure that to the existing Kyushu, Osaka and Nagoya, a basho in Hokkaido would be greatly welcomed (especially in the height of summer), and an old-timey outdoor basho in Kyoto would be a real marque event.

Last but certainly not least – it was clear that Kisenosato had sustained some injury to his left ankle during today’s match with Ikioi. The big Yokozuna took a dive into the first row of zabuton, landing on a Gyoji. Word from Kintamayama’s daily newsletter is that he was taken directly to the hospital, and they are leaving his status for day 6 as a decision for the morning.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Gagamaru – To me it looks like Kaisei may have lost weight, or at least is more healthy than he has been in months. He handled a failing Gagamaru well.

Arawashi defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi finally loses one. Match started with a matta. that should have been two matta, but Arawashi found his mark and Nishikigi went down.

Shohozan defeats Takekaze – After a Shohozan matta, Takekaze employs a henka, but Shohozan is having none of it. In fact it seemed to really crank up “Big Guns” and what followed was Shohozan chasing Takekaze around the dohyo. Though Takekaze battled back briefly, Shohozan was out for blood.

Onosho defeats Ishiura – Huge tachiai from Onosho was carried into a blistering attack. Match ended with Ishiura taking flight into the second row. Onosho is really impressing me right now.

Ura defeats Tochinoshin – I am trying to restrain my superlatives, but this was damn brilliant work by Ura. Tochinoshin had him on size, reach, weight and strength. What was he to do? His plan seems to have been to get inside and push like mad. Tochinoshin, being the veteran he is, knew this was going to happen, and masterfully kept striking Ura away. Ura set a trap, by backing up to the tawara, baiting Tochinoshin to come push him out. As Tochinoshin moved to take the bait, inside went Ura – who grabbed a leg, and with a quick pivot it was Tochinoshin who left the ring. Ura doubters, take note – this was a big match in the progression of Ura.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi continues unbeaten against Tamawashi, as he strongly took command from the tachiai and forced Tamawashi from the dohyo in short order.

Kotoshogiku defeats Terunofuji – As a gauge of how damaged and in pain Terunofuji is, he allowed Kotoshogiku to set up and execute his trademark hip pump attack, and could do nothing to stop it. I pray that Terunofuji goes kyujo soon, as i am sure if he is healthy he can battle out of the kadoban status at Aki.

Takayasu defeats Takakeisho – A far cry from day 4’s match with Hakuho, Takakeisho faced the run away freight train that is Takayasu. The tachiai stood Takakeisho upright and rocked him back on his heels, and from there Takayasu batted him around a few times and then threw him down.

Goeido defeats Shodai – Shodai once again brings his weak tachiai, and Goeido really blasted him hard. But from there, Shodai put up a really good fight. I also like that we are seeing more Goeido 2.0 action, as I really like that guy.

Ikioi defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato seems to have become an injury magnet. Ikioi focused on Kisenosato’s left arm, and cranked it for all he was worth. The Yokozuna took a dive off the dohyo, and seems to have sustained a left ankle injury as well. Ikioi’s first win of Nagoya is a kinboshi against Kisenosato, whom he has never defeated before in 16 attempts.

Harumafuji defeats Hokotofuji – Harumafuji delivers his sumo in a big way today. Hokotofuji is good, and one day he is going to be great, I think, but today it was speed and maneuverability that carried the day. Hokotofuji never had time to counter the Horse’s rocket propelled tachiai, which Harumafuji transitioned seamlessly into a brilliant sukuinage.

Hakuho defeats Yoshikaze – Nobody should be surprised. Yoshikaze was a real threat, and was likely to blast off the tachiai into the boss. That moment of uncertanty would have deicded the match, and there was a fair chance that if Yoshikaze landed a good tsuppari, it could have gotten ugly for Hakuho. I hate to see a Yokozuna throw a henka against my favorite rikishi, but it was kind of the right thing to do here.

Endo Withdraws From Nagoya Basho


Endo

Injury to Left Knee and Left Ankle

Late word that Endo has withdrawn from the Nagoya basho, and will sit out the rest of the tournament. Fans have wondered for the past two days if he was nursing an injury, and now it is revealed that he has a damaged ACL, but has also damaged his left ankle.

In the image above from his match with Ura, Endo’s ankle is not taped, which it was in subsequent days. This could give rise to the assumption that the injury happend during this match.

This means that the next rikishi into the meat grinder is none other than crowd favorite Ura. Some fans were keen to see Ura face some of the San’yaku, and most likely that will now be the case.

Report comes from Nikkan Sports: https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/1854656.html

Nagoya Day 4 Highlights


Hakuho-Classroom

Nagoya Crazy Train Still Rolling On.

Many sumo fans assumed that at some point this week, the Nagoya bahso would settle down to a standard sumo grind, but this basho is a run away beer truck rolling down hill. The only hope we have is to climb on board and drink the contents while the ride lasts.

With Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the basho, the noises of his retirement have returned at an elevated volume. I think it would be a great loss for sumo, given that his style is fairly unique. But it’s clear that his body is not up to the challenge of supporting the intense schedule of the modern sumo year.

There was a good amount of concern and confusion in today’s match between Ura and Onosho. To the fans in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnaisum, it must have looked that Onosho was a clear winner. In fact it seems that both rikishi were not quite certain who had won. As the gyoji handed the kensho to Ura, the shimpan rose, and Ura assumed that a monoii had been called. Looking confused, he tried to hand the kensho back to the gyoji. In fact it was simply the half way break, and the Shimpan were changing over.

Lastly, in a bout that I loved, but that many in Japan are criticizing, Hakuho completely and utterly deconstructed fast rising star Takakeisho in the final match of the day. It’s quite understandable that Takakeisho would be in awe of his first ever match against the dai-Yokozuna, and Hakuho played on that. After a series of tsuppari delivered to the young challenger, Takakeisho backed off and waited. This prompted Hakuho to encourage him to attack, and it devolved into butsugari geiko. This may not quite make sense, but in that 30 second bout, Hakuho reduced Takakeisho from challenger, to student. Personally I found it endearing, but it seems that a good amount of the sumo mainstays in the NSK found it quite insulting.

Selected Matches

Nishikigi defeats Sokokurai – Nishikigi continues to look renewed in his return to Makuuchi. He is now 4-0 and half way to his kachi-koshi. Sokokurai put up a good fight, but Nishikigi was not going to lose.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Tokushoryu completely overpowered Chiyonokuni in this match, which resulted in a monii. I have to wonder if Chiyonokuni is nursing some injury from Natsu, as he continues to turn in dismal results.

Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – Aoiyama the man mountain continues to dominate, and remains unbeaten thus far. I am certain that Maegashira 8 is the perfect rank for Aoiyama, as he seems to be doing very well with this degree of difficulty.

Ishiura defeats Chiyotairyu – Ishiura showed up with some really solid sumo today, and the crowd loved it. I am not sure if he has physical or confidence problems, but everyone is hoping to see that same hard-charging sumo machine that first entered Makuuchi in January.

Ura defeats Onosho – In addition to the post-match confusion, this was some really solid sumo from both men. Onosho really pushed hard from the tachiai, but lost momentum moments from victory. His final pulling throw at the edge saw his foot out for just a moment as Ura took flight.

Tochiozan defeats Endo – Something happened at the tachiai, and Endo more or less stopped trying just after the initial charge. All of sumo hopes Endo is not harboring some performance limiting injury.

Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – Takayasu’s initial shoulder blast seems to have disoriented Mitakeumi, who was never able to get stable and attack. Takayasu continued to press the attack and move forward, and prevailed. This is two days in a row where it seems Mitakeumi became disoriented after a really solid blow to the head on the tachiai.

Goeido defeats Ikioi – Example of Goeido 2.0 behavior. Explode into the tachiai, carry that momentum into your opponent’s chest and just run him off the dohyo. Sadly Ikioi is winless.

Hokutofuji defeats Terunofuji – Hokutofuji is holding up very well against sumo’s top ranks. If he can stay healthy, he will join them before long. It’s clear that Terunofuji is struggling daily to compete through the pain.

Kisenosato defeats Shodai – All of the sumo world breaths a sigh of relief. Not only did he win, but he was producing power through his left side. Maybe he can make a go of it after all. Shodai, of course, had a terrible tachiai.

Harumafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent deploy of Harumafuji’s mini-henka, against an opponent who sort of expected it.

Hakuho defeats Takakeisho – In what I can only call “Mole Boss Sumo”, Hakuho is cat to Takakeisho’s mouse. When they made this Yokozuna, they broke the mould. Much respect to Takakeisho for continuing to try to attack in spite of Hakuho batting him around like a piece of twine.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview


Endo-Doomed

With Kakuryu Out, Endo Joins The Meat Grinder.

Blog contributor and reader Iksumo has correctly pointed out that with Yokozuna Kakuryu’s withdrawal from the Nagoya Basho, Maegashira 3w joins the joi. Readers may have seen us use the term “joi” in the past. It is a fairly loose reference to the top echelon of Makuuchi; those that will have to face Yokozuna and Ozeka as fodder for their sport. Luckily Endo has been in the joi several times before, and is more than ready to take his turn in the meat grinder.

Day 3 gave some comfort to long time sumo fans. At long last all 3 Ozeki won, and Yokozuna Harumafuji scored his first win. But Harumafuji looked far from his poised, aggressive self both before the match and after. He is clearly in a good amount of pain in his lower body, and I worry that he too may find it necessary to sit out some part of this basho.

Sadly, Kisenosato is also looking damaged, and we face a real possibility that we could only have one Yokozuna active (Hakuho) during week two.

Matches We Like

Gagamaru vs Kotoyuki – Both of these rikishi have had a terrible start to this tournament. Gagamaru especially has not been doing well, and is clearly in pain. Kotoyuki as well suffers from a host of injuries, and spent a day kyujo during Natsu.

Nishikigi vs Sokokurai – Nishikigi really has found his stride, and is working to show that he belongs in Makuuchi. He has only faced Sokokurai once before, and lost. Given his 3-0 start, he may be ready to even the score.

Aoiyama vs Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan goes up against the man-mountain Aoiyama. Aoiyama wins in terms of bulk, power and reach. But Shohozan can take a shot and give as good as he gets. If they get started well, this could be a slap fest for the ages. Aoiyama leads the career series 12-6, so advantage to the Bulgarian.

Ura vs Onosho – Ura was off his sumo on day 3, and I wager he will be back in form for Onosho, whom he has faced several times in the past, and defeated 3 times to 1 loss. Onosho is unbeaten so far this basho, and is looking quite strong and confident. This match has a lot of potential.

Tochiozan vs Endo – Both of these rikishi come into today with 2-1 records, and both of them have been looking fairly well thus far. Endo needs to tune up for his rotation through the upper ranks, but Tochiozan tends to beat Endo with a high degree of predictability.

Takayasu vs Mitakeumi – The shin-Ozeki vs the future-Ozeki. Day 3 Mitakeumi seemed to have stopped prematurely, so he will get a chance today to apply his sumo with gusto. Takayasu leads their series 5-3, but Mitakeumi has a lot to prove.

Terunofuji vs Hokutofuji – Injured Terunofuji vs the up-and-coming Maegashira who has shown a lot of poise, ingenuity and strength. This is their first meeting, so once again we get to see how both men handle the first encounter.

Kisenosato vs Shodai – Should Kisenosato drop this bout to Shodai, it will be very dark days for the newest Yokozuna indeed. It is clear that he has not recovered, and that thus far he has not been fighting at even Ozeki level. Shodai will (hopefully) get his tachiai together for day 4.

Tochinoshin vs Harumafuji – With Harumafuji sore, Tochinoshin has a real chance for another kinboshi. More recent followers of sumo may not know this, but at one time Tochinoshin (before his injuries) as a serious contender for upper ranks. It is really nice to see him competing at this level once more. Harumafuji leads the career bouts 21-6.

Hakuho vs Takakeisho – Yet another first meeting, this time the hard charging up and comer goes face to face with the dai Yokozuna. I am sure that Takakeisho will be a bundle of nerves, but I just hope he puts up a good struggle.

Nagoya Day 2 Preview


Yoshikaze

Will The Ozeki Corps Recover?

Day One was the kind of open that sumo fans dream about. The unexpected was out in full force, and everyone had their expectations re-set (myself included). As Tachiai had been implying, the up-and-coming crop of young rikishi are working hard to de-throne much of the established brand name sumotori we have loved for years. This is the natural order of things, and I welcome it. Be aware, things will revert to normal soon, possibly on day 2. Ozeki and Yokozuna have lost face massively, and they will fight with redoubled strength and determination today.

But it was a beating unlike any that has been seen in at least a decade. Out of the 7 men in the Yokozuna and Ozeki corps, only 2 of them won. There were a couple of telling indications.

Kakuryu – Big K, who is frequently the one everyone worries will fall first, looked convincing and solid. Shodai is easy enough if you know his repeating weakness (crummy tachiai), but Kakuryu looked strong, planted, solid and (dare I say it?) healthy. If we have a genki Kakuryu, the fun factor goes up quite a lot.

Hakuho – Clearly the Boss is back in fighting form. Ojisan Kotoshogiku is a shadow of the Ozeki who won the 2016 Hatsu basho, so Hakuho’s win is no surprise. But the Boss is clearly running well and looking to be is normal dominant self.

Goeido – Did anyone else notice he reconstructed ankle was not taped? And that in his battle of strength with Tochinoshin he was pushing hard with both feet? I am happy to assume now that the repairs were effective, and we may get to see Goeido 2.0 again some day.

Kisenosato – Clearly he is still far short of his normal health. Mitakeumi picked a vulnerable route and worked it hard, with great success. That’s the real problem. As a Yokozuna, you are not supposed to have easily exploitable vulnerabilities.

Yoshikaze – Holy smokes! That was excellent sumo no matter how you slice it. I am greatly impressed that Harumafuji was able to mount such an effective defense at the drop of a hat. Yoshikaze is clearly still having a lot of fun being an active sekitori, and with bouts like day 1, I can see why. The NSK must be happy they made him San’yaku or they would be paying out still more kinboshi.

Once again, like day 1, the interest level in day 2 matches is broad and intense. There is the potential in Nagoya for one of the most pivotal, and exciting tournaments in several years.

Matches We Like

Nishikigi vs Gagamaru – Nishikigi was clearly unhappy with his visit to Juryo last basho, and it was a wake up call to tune up or give up. Today he faces Planet Gagamaru, who is a walking complexity of sumo malfunction. Popular in the broader Japanese media, Gagamaru seems to have lost any edge he may have had in the past.

Sokokurai vs Takekaze – Sokokurai looked very strong day one, and he needs some momentum going into week two. Tachiai expects any number of kyujo rikishi to throw chaos into scheduling, and any wrestler with a decent record will be pulled higher in the torikumi to fill in. Takekaze is no slouch, and he needs to get out of the lower Maegashira ranks to keep himself in business.

Chiyonokuni vs Arawashi – Chiyonokuni was lost and off balance day 1. He has in the past been strong and poised, and we worry the thumping he took during Natsu wrecked his confidnece and drive to win. He will get no quarter from Arawashi, who needs to renew his record, too.

Ishiura vs Daieisho – Ishiura pulled out a rather unsavory henka on day 1, and we can be certain that Daieisho is going to bring some caution to his tachiai. Watch for an early attempt at a slap down, or even a Daieisho henka.

Onosho vs Tochiozan – Onosho is picking up where he left off from Natsu. Today he is against Tochiozan, who seems to again be showing some rather good sumo. This is their first match up ever, so very interesting to fans.

Ura vs Chiyoshoma – Ura day 1 was impressive. He was a whirling mass of chaos with an overall theme that he used to his advantage. In their prior two matches, Ura has won them both, but I am looking for Chiyoshoma to deploy something new day 2.

Kagayaki vs Endo – It’s tough watching Endo with the new mawashi. My poor sleep starved mind just associated Endo with his old color. Kagayaki’s big problem is inconsistency. When he is “on” he has what it takes to be an upper Maegashira, but he struggles to maintain that form. Interestingly enough, Endo has yet to defeat Kagayaki!

Hokutofuji vs Mitakeumi – Could be the match of the day. Two lead riskishi in the class of “up and coming” square off for supremacy. Both are formidable, both are capable of winning. Both are going to bring a strong attack. Their only prior match was won by Mitakeumi, so pay attention to this bout!

Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Terunofuji on day 1 looked quite disorganized. There were some reports that his knees were bothering him in the lead up to Nagoya, and this bout against the hard charging Tamawashi will tell us much about the Ozeki’s health. As a big Terunofuji fan, I do hope he is healthy.

Takayasu vs Ikioi – Ikioi looked like hell on day 1, and completely blew what could and should have been a competitive bout. Takayasu! Get it together! I will be highly agitated if the shin-Ozeki launches his career with a kadoban mark.

Yoshikaze vs Goeido – As with day 1, Goeido will need to decide if he wants to go strength or speed. If he lets Yoshikaze control the match, it will likely be speed and he will have to start on defense. Goeido 2.0 would go left hand inside at the tachiai and heave-ho the berserker off the clay before he can even blink.

Hakuho vs Tochinoshin – I know Tochinoshin is going to put up a strong and vigorous struggle, so I am eager to see how Hakuho wins this one.

Kotoshogiku vs Kakuryu – Bonus points to Big K if he lets Kotoshogiku set up the hip-pump attack and then defeats him. I am convinced a healthy Kakuryu has a way to counter almost any attack, so the more we can see him deploy, the better.

Kisenosato vs Takakeisho – This could be a really important match for several bad reasons. If we see Kisenosato once again defeated directly, it indicates that Japan’s favorite Yokozuna has little choice left except to put himself into the queue for surgery. I know the NSK and Kisenosato do not want that. But it may be that or retirement.

Shodai vs Harumafuji – I am looking for The Horse to get back to form, and to bend Shodai up onto a crane shape prior to sending him back to the dressing room. I think Shodai has a lot of potential, but he needs to work on some fundamentals to get to the next level.

Nagoya Day One Highlights


Nagoya-Battle-Formation

We Start With Chaos

The first day of the Nagoya basho started crazy, with a massive display of strength from the up and coming rikishi. If you fear spoilers for the NHK World broadcast, best to stop reading now.

To start – none of the Ozeki won on opening day, and half of the Yokozuna lost their opening match. It was not that anyone looked unprepared or weak, more it was that the young hard charging newcomers seemed to be ready to show the old guard that sumo demands they defend their lofty rank, every single time.

As we stated in the preview, every single match today had some level of interest, and this will certainly be a good Sunday to take in every match available on Jason’s All Sumo Channel on Youtube.

Results From Day One

Onosho defeats Takanoiwa – It was Onosho from the start with a strong tachiai. Takanoiwa never really seemed to get set up for any kind of offese, as Onosho kept moving forward.

Tochiozan defeats Ichinojo – An impressive show of strength and ring sense by Tochiozan, he was able to lock up the big Mongolian early and dance him around the dohyo.

Ura defeats Endo – Endo was sporting a new stunning gold mawashi, but it was no help for his bout with Ura, who looked impressively stable. Ura did a fantastic job of disrupting Endo’s attacks and bided his time. As Endo went for a mawashi grip, he was ever so slightly off balance and Ura took immediate advantage to shove him out.

Hokotofuji defeats Takayasu – Takayasu was too high in the tachiai, and Hokotofuji never let him recover. Hokotofuji had Takayasu struggling for balance and moved forward strongly. While Takayasu tried to give ground and return the attack, it was all over before the shin Ozeki could find his mark. Impressive win for Hokotofuji.

Tochinoshin defeats Goeido – Goeido let it become a match of strength, had Goeido made it about speed it could have been his match. Interestingly enough, Tochinoshin actually won by stepping out last, rather than any definable kimarite.

Takakeisho defeats Terunofuji – Convincingly I might add. This match was all Takakeisho! There was a stalemate at the tachiai as each rikishi shoved each other back for a few moments, but then Takakeisho pressed a coordinated attack and sent the Kaiju out smartly.

Mitakeumi defeats Kisenosato – With sincere apologies to all the Japanese fans, but I worry that half a Kisenosato is never going to work as a Yokozuna. Despite all of the stories in the press about Mitakeumi’s inadequate preparation, this match was one sided. Nice new mawashi on the shin-Sekiwake too!

Yoshikaze defeats Harumafuji – Possibly the best match of what was already a wild day, the Berserker managed to get the Yokozuna turned around. I was very impressed with how close Harumafuji came to recovering from that fatal mistake, but it was Yoshikaze’s match. I am sure the Yokozuna is glad that the veteran was not able to execute one of the dramatic reverse throws that tend to be a fixture of the highlight reels for years.

Hakuho defeats Kotoshogiku – Well of course he did. I have been a solid Kotoshogiku fan for some time, but his day is past now, and it makes me sad to watch him struggle. Hakuho takes another step closer to the all time win record, and looks excellent doing it.

Nagoya Day 1 Preview


Makuuchi-crew

Every Match Has Interest Today

Much has been said here on Tachiai as well as other sumo media about some of the excitement around this Nagoya basho. There is a lot of fresh blood in the top half of Maegashira, Hakuho looks to be back to fighting form, and there is a new Ozeki in town. On day one of any basho, the possibilities are wide open, but I feel more so for this tournament. It’s at times like this that I wish there were a way to get the full NHK English program (2 hours) without going through strange gyrations and whole house rewiring. But most likely we will be limited to what matches NHK World can squeeze into the 20 minute highlight show.

Matches We Like

Nishikigi vs Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki ended Natsu on a really sour note. He was clearly injured and was just barely getting up on the dohyo daily. Nishikigi is back after one tournament in Juryo, and it’s time to see if he has improved. Nishikigi holds a 2-1 career edge.

Sadanoumi vs Sokokurai – This one should be all Sokokurai, but their last meet up (also on day 1 of the May basho) saw Sadanoumi deliver a convincing oshidashi.

Chiyonokuni vs Shohozan – Chiyonokuni was drop-kicked down the banzuke after a miserable turn as Maegashira 1. Now bottom feeding at Maegashira 11, he goes up against “Big Guns” Shohozan, who holds a 5-1 career advantage.

Tokushoryu vs Ishiura – Only one prior match between them, and it went to Ishiura. Tokushoryu has bulk, height and reach on Ishiura, so if Ishiura wants to take their second career meeting, he is going to do it via speed and technique.

Ichinojo vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan had a great basho in Osaka, and then fizzled at Natsu. Ichinojo is hit or miss, so it’s time to see if the big Mongolian is healthy and ready to compete. Tochiozan holds a 6-3 career advantage.

Chiyoshoma vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki is probably a bit uncomfortable with his significant lift up the banzuke, and he starts Nagoya facing off against veteran Chiyoshoma. Chiyoshoma had a miserable Natsu, but was not demoted nearly as much as might be expected based on his 5-10 record. If Kagayaki is going to be able to put up much of a contest at his new rank, this may be a good early indicator.

Ura vs Endo – One of the big matches of the day. Two crowd favorites face off for the very first time. I expect Endo to go for a straight ahead bout, and Ura is going to try something creative. May not last long.

Tamawashi vs Ikioi – Tamawashi is coming in with a lot of buzz about him being ready to take his sumo to the next level. While we all hope that Rikishi can continue to excel, he gets to try it out on Ikioi first. Tamawashi leads 8-4 over their careers, but that’s not going to stop Ikioi from trying to blast him into space from the tachiai.

Takayasu vs Hokutofuji – Another highlight match. This is the first meeting between these two, and it could be quite exciting. Both have similar approaches to their sumo. So I am looking for Hokutofuji to prevent Takayasu from getting his preferred grip, and try to coax him into pulling for a hatakikomi or similar move. This is always Takayasu’s weakness, and I pray he just fights moving forward.

Tochinoshin vs Goeido – From the scratch and dent bin, we get two rikishi who are capable of great sumo, but frequently under-achieve. I will be looking for Goeido to go for a massive offense straight from the tachiai.

Terunofuji vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s baptism by fire. Welcome to upper Makuuchi kid! Here, have a match with the kaiju! It will be entertaining to see what Takakeisho does in reaction to Terunofuji. Maybe a henka?

Shodai vs Kakuryu – Big K holds a 4-0 advantage in the series, so I am going to look for a strong but high tachiai from Shodai, with Kakuryu using his energy to move him toward the tawara.

Kisenosato vs Mitakeumi – There are a lot of great matches today, and this could be worthy of note. We will find out if Kisenosato is still a one armed man, and we will see if Mitakeumi was sandbagging during the last few days of training.

Yoshikaze vs Harumafuji – There is no love lost here. Last year in Nagoya their bout became a street brawl that left blood on the dohyo. Career wise, Harumafuji leads only by 9-8, and Yoshikaze tends to beat kinboshi out of Harumafuji.

Hakuho vs Kotoshogiku – We get to see Hakuho launch into his march towards the all time win goal with his bout against an ailing and aging Kotoshogiku. I am not sure about you, but watching Kotoshogiku fight now is kind of sad to me.