Hatsu Day 11 Highlights

Nothing is slowing down the rikishi at the front of the yusho race today, as the top 5 all win their matches and only Tochiozan drops out of the hunt group 2 behind the yusho pace. But my favorite match of the day was Goeido’s win over Takayasu. Even though I am a Takayasu fan, he’s more or less doomed now, and it was good to see Goeido run a battle plan that has him put all of his effort into a single opening gambit, then make it pay off. I hold no illusions that he will be able to “win out” and defend his Ozeki rank, but it was good to see this rivalry play out once more.

Highlight Matches

Kiribayama defeats Azumaryu – Straightforward mawashi battle. Kiribayama gets one win closer to kachi-koshi and a chance to stay in the top division.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Shimanoumi gets inside at the tachiai, and Kotoshogiku struggles to figure out what to do. The answer is really nothing. Shimanoumi lets him struggle for a bit, then puts him away yorikiri style.

Kagayaki defeats Tochiozan – This match was not quite as intense a battle as I thought it could have been. Tochiozan, while showing in the past 10 matches to be a master of body mechanics, can’t really do much to blunt the strength Kagayaki brought to the dohyo today.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – One can hope that Chiyotairyu’s bandaged left arm, which took the strain of Ryuden’s kotenage, is doing a bit better. Chiyotairyu manages to generate quite a bit of thrusting pressure against Kotoeko before slapping him down for a much needed win.

Ishiura defeats Ikioi – After a weak start, Ishiura seems to have found his sumo. He needs to win 3 out of the last 4 to reach kachi-koshi, and today he dispatched Ikioi by constantly hitting and shifting around the injured vet. This was effective in getting Ikioi’s guard loosened up enough for a firm push center mass for the win.

Chiyomaru defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyomaru stood Sadanoumi up and slapped him down. Against Sadanoumi, speed is crucial, and Chiyomaru made sure there was no room for Sadanoumi to set up any offense.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Takanosho – Terutsuyoshi uses a submarine tachiai to get low against Takanosho, and a well placed ankle kick to break Takanosho’s balance to set up the hatakikomi. Terutsuyoshi now kachi-koshi.

Ryuden defeats Tsurugisho – Ryuden did get the memo, and Tsurugisho got the “handle with care” treatment as Ryuden put him over the bales. Seriously, Tsurugisho – you are make-koshi now. Call it a basho and try to get that knee healthy.

Tokushoryu defeats Aoiyama – Tokushoryu maintains his share of the lead with his win over Big Dan Aoiyama. They start with thrusts, but neither can move the other back, so it’s chest to chest with Big Dan going a left hand outside. He seems to have the upper hand now, and advances against Tokushoryu who pivots into a throw at the bales. Great sumo from Tokushoryu as he is now 10-1 from the bottom of the banzuke.

Onosho defeats Kaisei – Onosho is no small man, but he’s noticeably shorter than Kaisei as they fight. Onosho increases Kaisei’s stance by jamming his right hand under his chin, and lifting with everything he can muster. Kaisei breaks the nodowa, but Onosho is back again and again, each time Kaisei is more disrupted and in slightly worse position until he is ripe for a slap down on the shoulder. I will be amazed if Onosho can battle back to a kachi-koshi from his terrible first 4 days.

Yutakayama defeats Shohozan – Shohozan delivers the expected intensity and violence, but Yutakayama matches him blow for blow. As they blast away at each other, its Yutakayama greater body mass which forces Shohozan to give ground and eventually fall. Welcome back Yutakayama, stay healthy this year, we need you in the joi-jin.

Okinoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin looks like he is doing real sumo now, and I am very happy. He gets his left hand outside grip and tries to drop his hips. But Okinoumi is half a second ahead of him and is too low to move. Tochinoshin attempts a pull down, and when he releases forward pressure Okinoumi charges ahead for the win. Tochinoshin still has the sumo skill, but that knee keeps him from putting up much of a fight.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi completely dominated this match, putting Hokutofuji in reaction mode and getting him moving backward almost at once. As Tamawashi lunges ahead to finish him, Hokutofuji employs a messy looking rescue move at the bales to thrust Tamawashi out. Tamawashi is now make-koshi while Hokutofuji is kachi-koshi.

Endo defeats Myogiryu – A quick pull down at the tachiai gives Endo his first win in 4 matches. Myogiryu picks up his 8th loss and will move down the banzuke for March.

Shodai defeats Daieisho – Points to Daieisho for giving it a full measure, but right now Shodai is overcoming every obstacle to a yusho. What amazed me is that Shodai spent most of the match almost completely upright, yet Daieisho could not find a way to bring him down. But Shodai kept landing a few thrusts, and emnploying relentless forward motion. Daieisho now make-koshi.

Mitakeumi defeats Abi – Abi wins the battle of the upper body, but Mitakeumi’s lower body saves the day. In sumo, the lower body can keep you in the fight even if your face and chest area taking a beating. Hokutofuji does this with great effect, and today Mitakeumi did it against Abi’s relentless thrusting attack.

Enho defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama, who as considered a contender for the Emperor’s Cup at one point, has hit a soft spot and is struggling. This is the first time he has faced Enho’s frantic grab and pull sumo attack, and he did not do well on defense.

Goeido defeats Takayasu – The last remaining Heisei Ozeki relic fought back Takayasu for a much needed win. Goeido is on the cusp of a rank busting make-koshi, but today he made it work. Goeido got a right hand inside at the tachiai (against Takayasu’s injured left arm) and gambled it all on his attack plan. Pure Goeido style sumo today, and I was glad to see it.

Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s defend and extend approach was shattered by the first volley from Takakeisho’s thrusting canon. He was out in 4 steps, and Takakeisho remains 1 behind Shodai and Tokushoryu.

Hatsu Day 11 Preview

It’s the start of act 3 of the Hatsu Basho. It’s time to finish the yusho race, and sort everyone into make and kachi-koshi. The roster of who is likely to be kachi-koshi includes some pleasant surprises this January. As we are deep into the transition era, and we can no longer count on Yokozuna or Ozeki dominating the basho, all manner of lower ranked rikishi are given a chance to shine.

We head into day 11 with the last man on the banzuke, Tokushoryu, sharing the yusho lead. Tokushoryu is a 33 year old veteran who has been in professional sumo for 66 tournaments – since 2009! He has a jun-yusho from Hatsu 2015, where he went 11-4, and a Juryo yusho from Aki 2018. That he is a co-leader at this stage of his career is quite the Cinderella story. Starting day 11, the scheduling committee will put him against increasingly higher ranked opponents to try to break his lead. I am sure they would do the same with Shodai, but he has fought them all already, or they have withdrawn. That being said, I still expect someone to put dirt on Shodai at least one more time, so the yusho is likely open to anyone on the leaderboard as of the start of day 11. If you want unpredictable, this basho will provide.

Hatsu Leaderboard

Leaders: Shodai, Tokushoryu
Chasers: Takakeisho, Yutakayama, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Hokutofuji, Terutsuyoshi, Tochiozan

5 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 11

Azumaryu vs Kiribayama – Both rikishi are close to the make/kachi koshi line right now, and will need to scrap for every win they can get. Kiribayama won their only previous encounter.

Kotoshogiku vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi dominates with a 3-0 career lead. Kotoshogiku needs to win 4 of the next 5 to lock in kachi-koshi. A loss today by Shimanoumi would be make-koshi, and nominate him for the Juryo barge of the damned.

Tochiozan vs Kagayaki – Oh goodie, this one is going to be wonderful. You have Mr Fundamentals, Kagayaki, who is going to do a lot of things right. But he puts a lot of motion into his sumo. He’s up against Mr Efficient, Tochiozan. Somehow Tochiozan is winning each day, putting progressively less movement into his high-efficiency sumo: just enough to win. Where does this one go? I can’t wait to find out!

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko is already make-koshi, but since Ryuden ripped his elbow apart with a kotenage on day 9, Chiyotairyu is an easy mark. A loss today would mark Chiyotairyu as make-koshi as well.

Ikioi vs Ishiura – Both come in with a 4-6 record, and a long road to a winning record. For Ikioi, a make-koshi would almost certainly proscribe a return to Juryo. They are fairly evenly matched at 3-2, and it may come down to who grabs a hold of whom first.

Sadanoumi vs Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru seems to be able to beat Sadanoumi like a drum, holding a career 11-3 record over Sadanoumi. But this basho, Sadanoumi is fighting well and Chiyomaru is not, so I am eager to see how this one goes. Sadanoumi has been using quickness to win this January, but most of that depends on a mawashi hold, or close ranger chest-to-chest sumo. This is physically challenging with the bulbous form of Chiyomaru.

Takanosho vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi got tremendously fired up on day 10 again Aoiyama. Hopefully Takanosho knows not to push that button, as we saw a different level of genki out of Terutsuyoshi that I don’t recall seeing before. A Terutsuyoshi win today would secure win #8.

Tsurugisho vs Ryuden – My biggest worry today? So far everyone has been very gentle with Tsurugisho following his knee blow out on day 6. But Ryuden is almost never gentle. I suspect he may rough up the injured undercarriage of Tsurugisho, maybe compounding his injury. Truth be told – Tsurugisho should not be on the dohyo. If he gets more injured, its not really Ryuden’s fault.

Aoiyama vs Tokushoryu – I admit that sometimes I really like “Big Dan” and his sumo. But today I want to see Tokushoryu put him on the clay. Their last meeting was Hatsu 2018 in Juryo, where Tokushoryu won.

Kaisei vs Onosho – All tied up at 2 each for their career, this is a match between two men who tend to get forward over their toes and provide an easy mark for a slap down. I would actually give a slight edge to Kaisei this match, as I think has his sumo dialed in right now. Onosho is 2 losses away from make-koshi, so he needs to rally.

Shohozan vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama is kachi-koshi already, but I am going to guess he is not going to ease up on the throttle. Shohozan, at 5-5, is 3 wins away from his 3rd kachi-koshi in a row. I expect there to be a lot of hitting, shoving and maybe a throw in there. They share a 2-2 career record.

Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin surprised me day 10 with some solid sumo for a change. Dare we hope that maybe his knee is less of a problem for a bit, and we are going to get to see the former Ozeki crack on with some yotsu power? We can hope, but I am going to guess that Okinoumi takes him apart, and Tochinoshin’s knee is still beyond hope.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – A Hokutofuji win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and make-koshi for Tamawashi. Tamawashi holds a small 6-4 career advantage and may be able to rally today to stave off his 8th defeat. Both of these rikishi are fond of this kind of match: High mobility, high force pushing. Bring it on!

Endo vs Myogiryu – Endo has lost his last 3, and really needs to rally now. He is still just 2 wins away from a kachi-koshi, and getting a white star today would hand Myogiryu his 8th loss, and make-koshi. They are tied at 5-5 over their career, but I will say if Endo can land his left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, he’s got this one.

Shodai vs Daieisho – The highest ranking potential opponents for Shodai are both Komusubi, and he ticks off Daieisho on day 11. Just one loss away from make-koshi, Daieisho has faltered his January. Maybe it’s injury, maybe something else, but I am going to assume that he will regroup and be back. His sumo is solid – not “future Ozeki” grade, but worthy of an upper Maegashira / lower San’yaku regular.

Abi vs Mitakeumi – Are we about to see Mitakeumi’s traditional act 3 fade? We have noticed him favoring that knee that got trashed last year, but still he fights on. I think Abi is due for a bounce back win in his 2-4 career record against the once future Ozeki.

Asanoyama vs Enho – Its Asanoyama’s turn to face the power pixie and ride the lightning. I am certain he studied the footage of Takayasu’s win over Enho, and has figured out a couple of things to try in their first-ever match. That being said, I am sure that Hakuho has been working with Enho to hone his opening gambit and follow on attacks. Any match with Enho has potential to be explosive, but when you have Asanoyama trying to rally after dropping 2 of the last 3, the potential his higher still.

Takayasu vs Goeido – Call this the “Heisei Nozeki Showdown” – Two rikishi from the previous era with a 31 match history (slight edge to Takayasu) meet to decide if Goeido is going to lose Ozeki and take Takayasu’s Ozekiwake slot in March in front of his home town crowd in Osaka. This is the kind of brutal match that is part of the fabric of sumo. It’s going to be ugly as Goeido goes hard against Takayasu’s injured left arm in an all out opening barrage.

Takakeisho vs Takarafuji – The “Defend and Extend” formula has worked wonders for Takarafuji this basho. He’s up against already kachi-koshi Takakeisho, who is still in the yusho hunt. So Takarafuji will seek to keep just enough distance to minimize the impact of Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks, while allowing him to return in kind and maneuver the Ozeki around the dohyo, draining him of stamina. Bonus points to Takarafuji if he can snag a mawashi grip and engage in the seldom seen shimpan bowling derby.

Hatsu Day 10 Highlights

Act 2 is now complete, and its clear that we have 5 rikishi who are likely to compete for the cup. Right now Shodai and veteran Tokushoryu are dominating their matches, and are the ones to beat in the final 5 days. Tokushoryu will start to get harder opponents on day 11, but given that Shodai has faced the upper ranks already, its and open question on who might put dirt on him before senshuraku. I am sure lksumo will have a prospective opponent list for Shodai at some point, but it looks like he still has both Komusubi yet to fight. Over in other corners of the sumo universe, the term “Yushodai” has been coined, generating much mirth and amusement in your author.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Shimanoumi – Another day marveling at Tochiozan’s efficiency. It breaks my mind to compare him to someone like Enho who dances about. I actually saw Tochiozan take 2 steps today. 2.

Kiribayama defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho’s left side remains smoldering wreckage of bandages and damaged joints, but he gives Kiribayama a solid fight. Now that his left knee is properly mummified, he was able to generate a bit of forward pressure to hold back Kiribayama, but not quite enough.

Tokushoryu defeats Chiyomaru – Co-leader Tokushoryu takes the Hatsu 2020 belly-blitz. He lures Chiyomaru into charging him down, and deftly guides him past. Unable to slow his rush forward, Chiyomaru rumbles out to visit the west size crowd in the zabuton section. This is especially fun as Chiyomaru has won every top division match against Tokushoryu before now.

Ikioi defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu’s bandaged left arm tells the story of that day 9 kotenage from Ryuden. Ikioi dispatches him without too much bother, and I would guess that Chiyotairyu’s damaged arm is going accelerate his slide to a deep make-koshi.

Kagayaki defeats Kotoeko – Kagayaki picks up win #8 with his usual display of straight-ahead, fundamentals based sumo. He is seldom exciting, but he is always effective.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Sadanoumi’s superior speed gives him the inside position at the tachiai, and Sadanoumi goes to work putting Kotoshogiku out. Kotoshogiku manages a throw attempt, but Sadanoumi’s stance is too stable, and he maintains control.

Takanosho defeats Kaisei – The two start chest to chest, but Takanosho’s gets rolling when he breaks contact and changes to a thrusting attack. I am still looking for Kaisei to hit 8 wins this basho, and remain in the top division for Osaka.

Yutakayama defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu attempt at a mawashi hold during the tachiai falls apart and he finds Yutakayama pressing a thrusting attack center mass. Azumaryu never has a moment to recover, and he’s out in a hurry. That’s kachi-koshi for Yutakayama.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – The match had a false start, and Aoiyama gave Terutsuyoshi a pretty solid shove, and I think that put Terutsuyoshi into kill mode. Aoiyama repeatedly goes for a pull down and attacks to Terutsuyoshi’s head, which may have included a hair pull. Terutsuyoshi decides he’s had enough, and grabs Aoiyama and throws him about repeatedly, sending him face first into the clay.

Ishiura defeats Ryuden – Ryuden got the jump on the tachiai, Ishiura got inside and for all purposes grabs a hold of Ryuden by the nipple. Now deeply disturbed and uncomfortable, Ryuden is an easy mark for Ishiura’s shitatedashinage. Odd attack technique, but very effective. I credit Tamawashi.

Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho gets superior position in the tachiai, but Okinoumi simply overpowers Onosho and takes him to the bales for a fairly straightforward win.

Shodai defeats Shohozan – Co-leader Shodai trades blows with Shohozan, and comes out on top (no easy feat). Shohozan realizes he’s not going to be able to hit his way to victory, and grabs Shodai’s mawashi. That too seems to be a miscalculation, as Shodai tosses Shohozan up and out in a heap. Not sure what Tokitsukaze is putting in the chanko, but its working! Shodai up to 9-1.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – It bothers me a bit to see Endo fading a bit in week 2 after such an amazingly strong start. Endo struggles for a mawashi grip at the tachiai, and that struggle gives Mitakeumi enough time to back Endo up to the tawara. Endo manages to rally, but Mitakeumi puts him in the spin cycle and flushes him away. Endo hits the clay and he’s still spinning.

Tamawashi defeats Myogiryu – This is Tamawashi’s favorite kind of match, an all out shoving contest where both rikishi try to push each other out. Of course when you take that route with Tamawashi, he’s likely to win.

Hokutofuji defeats Daieisho – Daieisho dominated this match until the very last moment. Hokutofuji’s relentless focus on attempting a pull down / slap down kept him from generating much forward pressure, and Daieisho marched him around the dohyo under a barrage of thrusts. But a smart move to grab Daieisho’s arm and hurl him past netted Hokutofuji win #7.

Tochinoshin defeats Asanoyama – Tochinoshin attempts a pull down during the tachiai. Some fans saw it as a henka, but it was not a very solid side, step and the pull down attempt failed. But what was interesting is he went chest to chest with Asanoyama and won. Asanoyama as now lost 2 of the last 3, and I hope we are not seeing a week 2 fade from him.

Takayasu defeats Abi – I am going to be most put out if Takayasu rallies now that he has flushed Ozeki down the tubes. He looked really solid today against Abi, and I wished he could have fought like this on some of the days he lost in the past week.

Takakeisho defeats Enho – Credit to Takakeisho for working out a formula for shutting down Enho’s busy/grabby sumo. Takakeisho picks up win #8, and we can finally bank on someone holding on to Ozeki for May.

Takarafuji defeats Goeido – Speaking of which, Goeido is one loss away from following his fellow relic Ozeki down the ranks. Takarafuji successfully employs his defend and extend tactic to stalemate Goeido, and true to form once the first 10 seconds of the match elapse, Goeido starts getting frantic. This is the time when Takarafuji takes control and wins matches. This is not Goeido not wanting to execute good sumo, or not being in the game, this is likely down to that reconstructed ankle failing after 2 additional years of abuse.

Hatsu Day 10 Preview

Kimura Konosuke – the Legend

It’s time to close out the second act of this basho. For those new to the site, we tend to discuss any 15 day basho as 3 distinct acts, each with their own themes and goals. For act 2, 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. With both Yokozuna out, and with 2 of the 3 Ozeki floundering, it was a wide open brawl for the cup. But who could have ever imagined that would mean Maegashira 17 West (last spot on the banzuke) Tokushoryu and Maegashira 4 West Shodai. Shodai? Yes, Shodai. Long time readers note that I have, in the past, frequently expressed disappointment with Shodai. Its not that he is not a likable figure. I have found his sumo sloppy and inconsistent, and his technique to be chaotic. There is also a whiff that some elements of the NSK tend to give him banzuke luck most of the time.

But in Hatsu 2020, Shodai has earned his slot at the top of the leaderboard. He has fought consistently and strongly across all 9 days to date. If this really is Shodai’s new grade of sumo, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for some time to come, and I am quite happy about it. His one loss was to Goeido, who used his normal opening gambit to just blast Shodai off the shikiri-sen. Shodai has already fought both Ozeki, and both Sekiwake. You could say the “hard” part of his schedule is behind him. But I would expect someone to put more dirt on Shodai before day 15. But should he hoist the cup on senshuraku, I will be cheering him on.

Hatsu Leaderboard

Leaders: Shodai, Tokushoryu
Chasers: Takakeisho, Yutakayama, Kagayaki
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Endo, Hokutofuji, Ryuden, Terutsuyoshi, Tochiozan, Kaisei

6 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 10

Tochiozan vs Shimanoumi – I am really enjoying watching Tochiozan’s minimal sumo. I hope we get to see him simply stand in place today, deflecting Shimanoumi as he charges, and calmly smiling while Shimanoumi stumbles and crashes to the clay.

Tsurugisho vs Kiribayama – We all hope that youngster Kiribayama has received the memo to win gently against the injured hulk of Tsurugisho. The senior rikishi have set the tone, please comply.

Tokushoryu vs Chiyomaru – Tokushoryu faces one of his most constant rivals, the even rounder and more bulky Chiyomaru. He holds an 8-2 career lead over the co-leader for the Hatsu 2020 yusho. That’s going to be a lot of belly meat in motion at the tachiai.

Chiyotairyu vs Ikioi – I want to know just how damaged Chiyotairyu’s left elbow is now from Ryuden’s day 9 “arm breaker” kotenage. Ikioi seems to be on the road to make-koshi and a berth on the Juryo barge of the damned. It’s sad to see a storied veteran struggle, and Ikioi is back to being walking wounded, it seems.

Kotoeko vs Kagayaki – Mr Fundamentals could score his kachi-koshi today with a win, and it would hand Kotoeko his make-koshi at the same moment. Kotoeko still seems to have decent sumo mechanics, but he seems to lack strength this January.

Sadanoumi vs Kotoshogiku – Sadanoumi will bring speed to this match, Kotoshogiku will bring size and mass. If Kotoshogiku had healthy knees, this would be no contest, but with his damaged undercarriage, it’s Sadanoumi’s match to win.

Takanosho vs Kaisei – First time meeting for these two, and with Kaisei fighting well this basho, I am going to say that he has the advantage due to his resemblance to a granite outcropping near Gifu.

Azumaryu vs Yutakayama – A win today would give Yutakayama his kachi-koshi, and would likely see him close in on those top 4 Maegashira ranks where I think he belongs this year. It’s been a slow recovery from injury for Yutakayama, but he is finally starting to look like his prior condition.

Aoiyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Another first time match, I think that Aoiyama is going to be on his balance to keep from having Terutsuyoshi dancing him to the bales and into the lap of a nearby shimpan.

Ishiura vs Ryuden – I want a rarely seen, simultaneous flying henka. I want them both to leap upward like a pair of scalded cats who just encountered a cucumber.

Okinoumi vs Onosho – Onosho dug himself a really generous hole with his act 1 ring rust, but he is slowly climbing his way back toward .500. He has to overcome Okinoumi’s world class balance, stability and lexicon of sumo technique. Onosho will bring speed and sheer power.

Shohozan vs Shodai – Yusho race co-leader Shodai will face “Big Guns” Shohozan. You might thing Shohozan’s high mobility, high impact style would give him a distinct edge, but in fact Shodai holds a 10-2 career advantage.

Endo vs Mitakeumi – This match will come down to Endo being able to land a front mawashi grip within the first few seconds. What he must not do is flail around fumbling for a hand hold against Mitakeumi, as Mitakeumi is expert at exploiting such moments of indecision.

Tamawashi vs Myogiryu – A loss today gives Tamawashi a make-koshi. He has really looked low-energy this basho, and I have to wonder if it’s the cumulative injuries of years in the top division, or some new malady that his robbed him of his sumo.

Hokutofuji vs Daieisho – Both rikishi are going to put a lot of fight into this match, but right now it seems Hokutofuji has an edge in any fight. They are 3-3 over the course of their career. They seem to trade hatakikomi and oshidashi wins back and forth since Osaka 2018.

Asanoyama vs Tochinoshin – If Asanoyama can keep this a chest to chest grappling match, he will likely carry the win. I think we are going to see one more sky crane from Tochinoshin this basho, and I am sort of hoping that

Abi vs Takayasu – Part of me thinks Takayasu should just own his injury at this point, go kyujo, get surgery, drop a division or two and come back and knock heads. He’s big enough, he’s strong enough and his sumo is good enough provided he can get his body into working order. But instead we are going to watch Abi shove him around for a few seconds before he takes a dive from the dohyo, possibly compounding that injury.

Takakeisho vs Enho – The Grand Tadpole against the Power Pixie. Its going to come down to Enho grabbing one of Takakeisho’s arms and giving it a solid tug. Is the Ozeki going to change up his sumo? If he can connect even one of those wave-action tsuppari to Enho, he could place Enho in an arcing trajectory toward the distant Aogashima island.

Takarafuji vs Goeido – The Goeido Blitzkrieg will match off against Mr Defend and Extend. If Takarafuji can blunt Goeido’s opening gambits, he will own the match, as Goeido tends to get sloppier the longer any bout goes on. The 14-5 career advantage underscores that Goeido usually can blast through Takarafuji’s opening defense.