Natsu Day 12 Highlights


Takayasu-12

Pivotal Day Did Not Disappoint.

There were indications that day 12 would be a decisive day in the Natsu basho, and it delivered. Just to review some of the items that were resolved overnight

Goeido’s Kadoban Doom – He easily defeated Aoiyama, and is now one win away from his kachi-koshi and reaffirming his Ozeki rank. To be certain, he has had a fairly weak performance this basho, but it will now likely be enough to life the kadoban doom. Day 13 he faces hapless Maegashira Takarafuji, which he should win with ease. Goeido should send flowers and sake to Kisenosato, his withdrawal scrambled to torikumi, and brought more upper Maegashira into matches in the final week than would have been normal.

Ojisan Kotoshogiku’s Fade – Mitakeumi was successful in handing the Kyushu Bulldozer his make-koshi. He will rank no higher than Komusubi come July, if he does not choose to retire and enjoy his kabu. This means we will likely be back to 2 Sekiwake as is normal, and we may see a new Sekiwake in Nagoya.

Takayasu’s Ozeki Bid – As expected, Takayasu made fairly easy work out of an injured Takarafuji, securing his 10th win. He is now eligible for promotion to Ozeki, but it is not guaranteed at this point, the NSK still must have their say. If he is promoted, and Kotoshogiku will certainly be demoted, the bottle-neck in San’yaku will be cleared, and Maegashira promotion lanes are once again open.

Highlight Matches Aplenty

*Note, almost all of the matches today were great, don’t settle for the NHK highlights, supplement them with Jason’s All Sumo Channel or Kintamayama’s great daily digest.

Onosho defeats Tokushoryu – This fast rising youngster secured his kachi-koshi. They traded attempts at slap downs, but Onosho’s connected.

Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – Another rikishi with a good looking future, Kagayaki secured his winning record today. Kagayaki seems to have fixed some of the problem he had with his tachiai, and as long as he does not get into the poor habit of moving backwards, he’s going to do great stuff.

Ura defeats Hokutofuji – Again Ura engaged his hyper-dimensional plane shifting mode, and deployed something very henka flavored, but not quite “jump out of the way”, it was more of a attack from the side move. To his credit, Hokotofuji read the move well, and responded very well. But Ura was now in about 3 places at once, and only his feet were still in this dimension. He had Hokotofuji turned around and shoved from behind off the dohyo before you could even understand what he did. With 10 wins Ura is now in special prize territory. The question is, which one. One other thing that is great to see, both Ura and Hokutofuji have really excellent manners in the ring. During the Asashōryū these seemed to go out of fashion, but I am so glad these guys are bringing it back.

Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – What a great bout this turned out to be. Both rikishi put in a lot of effort, and brought their best sumo. Tochinoshin is wonderful to watch when he is healthy, but the smaller, rounder Takakeisho used Tochinoshin’s height and mass against him with great effect. The throw at the edge was expertly done, and both these rikishi may be in contention for well deserved special prizes.

Yoshikaze defeats Chiyonokuni – What a fantastic battle, it ranged back and forth across the dohyo, with Yoshikaze always having the upper hand, but Chiyonokuni refusing to concede. Slapping, pushing, multiple attempts at throwing each other, neither one could close the deal until Yoshikaze was able to turn Chiyonokuni to the side and push him out. I could watch that again (and I will!). Yoshikaze is going to make a great coach, and I expect he will produce a great generation of berserkers that will improve sumo for decades.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Another milestone in the sunset of once Ozeki Kotoshogiku. Mitakeumi shut down at least 2 attempts to establish the hug-n-chug. I am now hoping against hope that Mitakeumi can get 8 wins, as I think it’s time he was Sekiwake. It’s rare that a rikishi can survive in San’yaku for more than 2 tournaments, and he has been fighting at Tamawashi levels for the last 2 basho.

Terunofuji defeats Shodai – This match did not disappoint. Shodai gave Terunofuji two handfuls of trouble, and many of Terunofuji’s preferred winning combos had no effect on Shodai. It should be noted that after the match, Terunofuji seems to have been hurt, and was helped back to the hanamichi by one of his elves.

Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Great day for Goeido 2.0 to take the dohyo. Aoiyama seemed disoriented and distracted, poor guy. He is better than his 2-10 record would indicate, but he and Ichinojo need to discover that bulk is only sometimes a kimarite at the upper ends of sumo.

Hakuho defeats Tochiozan – Hakuho formula for yusho cake: Head-slap, discombobulate, slap down to the clay. For the most part, the only one who can stop him now is Harumafuji, and that will come as the final bout of day 15.

Natsu Day 6 Highlghts


Hakuho

It Feels Like An Old Fashioned Basho.

Remember last year when every tournament was a contest between Hakuho and Harumafuji to see which one could go without losing a single bout? Those were heady days when to two Mongolian super-sumotori ruled the dohyo, and nobody could really do much to them.

Then there were injuries, hospitalization, recuperation, and problems galore. For fans of these two great Yokozuna, it’s quite enjoyable to see them dominant once more. Each has a powerful and distinctive style of sumo that will be sorely missed once they retire (which is coming sooner than any of us want).

Items of note

Takayasu lost his first match today to fellow Sekiwake Tamawashi. This match was lost at the tachiai, which was sloppy for Takayasu. He slipped to 5-1

Goeido seems to be running the 2.0 software again, which I really like. I have had fears over the stability of his injured ankle, but it would seem that he is back to something close to his Aki form, which is excellent Ozeki class sumo.

Also working hard to ensure we never get to No-Zeki is Terunofuji. Today he looked like a cat toying with a grasshopper. Even the gyoji caught a piece of the action.

Select Matches

Onosho defeats Kotoyuki – Onosho continues to impress. Today he exploded into the tachiai and the momentum just carried Kotoyuki out.

Ura defeats Ichinojo – Simple, Ichinojo let Ura dictate the form of the match. Ura went low, stayed low, Ichinojo tried to follow and Ura was in control. Done.

Kagayaki defeats Takakeisho – A festival of pushing, shoving, slapping and bashing until Takakeisho lost his balance and fell. The pushme-pullyous seems to be running sumo now. Did everyone forget the rest of the kimarate list?

Takanoiwa defeats Shodai – Shodai is still too high at the tachiai, and never got his footing.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – Tamawashi won this one on the line. Takayasu was off balance from the start, and Tamawashi made him pay for it.

Yoshikaze defeats Kotoshogiku – Good bye Kotoshogiku, you were one of the good ones, and you will be sorely missed, as you are a real character. But you have nothing left, please take your kabu and become a great leader of young rikishi. Also, Yoshikaze is really running well this basho.

Terunofuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Like a ping pong match with 300 pound plus big men. And to be honest, it was all Terunofuji. Sadly the Gyoji got in the way at some point and got hit with Chiyonokuni being tossed around like a hacky-sack. It’s strange to say, but it looks like both Ozeki are running well this basho, and its so very very welcome.

Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Aggressive, adaptive, committed. Goeido 2.0 was on the dohyo today, and he provided Mitakeumi with a valuable lesson. No plan survives first contact, and Goeido got inside his decision loop and shut him down.

Kisenosato defeats Daieisho – Kisenosato got the easy match today. Poor Daieisho is far out of his element. He will be back, but we hope he is not damaged by this tournament ranked much higher than he should be right now.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Hakuho could have won this match in the first three seconds, but he was not going to let Endo off easily. He kept slapping and pushing, pushing and slapping. Demonstrating the match was going to last until he got tired. well, Endo decided he had enough and exiting the dohyo after a solid push to give him cover.

Harumafuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama is known for landing hay-makers, so what did Harumafuji do? Grabbed two handfuls of flabby breast meat and started shoving. Aoiyama was really unable to move his arms, or land any blows. Kind of disgusting, but effective.

Day 15 Osaka Recap


sansho-osaka

Beyond The Yusho

In addition to one of the more dramatic ends to a sumo basho that I have ever witnessed, there was a lot of great action on the dohyo for the final day. As we highlighted earlier, a lot of rikishi were still battling to secure a winning record (Kachi-koshi), and bid for promotion on the May ranking sheet.

First and foremost, in the Yokozuna battle, Kakuryu was able to prevail over Harumafuji, and finish the tournament with 10 wins. While not earth-shattering, his double digit score puts him squarely in the territory expected for a Yokozuna. Harumafuji’s loss continues to worry, as it’s clear he was hurt most or all of Haru, and competed anyhow.

Special Prizes

  • Outstanding Performance / Shukun-sho: Takayasu (3rd shukun-sho, 8th sansho overall)
  • Fighting Spirit / Kanto-sho: Takakeisho (1st kanto-sho, 1st sansho overall)
  • Technique / Gino-sho: not awarded

I thought there were some great kimarite unleashed in Osaka, and the Gino-sho should have been awarded.

Match Results

Takayasu was able to beat Tamawashi in the battle of the Sekiwake, and pushed his record to 12-3. Firstly, don’t worry about Tamawashi, he finished 8-7, and will remain at Sekiwake for May. Takayasu, however, now only needs 10 wins in May to secure an Ozeki promotion. This also marks a shift, as in prior basho, Takayasu would have a big early winning streak, run out of gas, get a disappointing loss, and then proceed to continue losing. This time, he pulled out of his losing streak and racked up 2 additional wins.

Kotoshogiku, in what may be his final match as a sekitori, faced another veteran Yoshikaze. After a good tachiai, Kotoshogiku quickly established his favored inside grip, and applied his familiar hug-n-chug (gaburi-yori) to the Berserker, and rapidly had him out. Yoshikaze already had his kachi-koshi, and this was (possibly) a goodbye match. I was happy that Kotoshogiku could end on a high note, while Yoshikaze lost nothing.

Mitakeumi finished strong as well, defeating Tochiozan, and confirming he is a contender for higher rank soon. Since turning from a pure pusher-thruster into a hybrid mawashi / thruster, Mitakeumi has improved greatly. I expect that he may take another dip or two down the banzuke in the coming months, but he has the size, speed, strength and skill to be a sumo leader.

Endo was also able to secure a winning record on the last day, taking it from Tochinoshin, who needs to visit whatever clinic gave Terunofuji his legs back. Ura also was able to defeat Ichinojo through a rather clever use of leverage and balance. It was different enough, the judges called a Monoii, but eventually gave Ura the win. Ichinojo is so tall, I swear it took him 30 seconds to finish falling.

Lastly, thank you readers of Tachiai. You have made this our biggest Basho yet, and it’s been wonderful to have all of you spend time on our site, sharing our love of sumo.

Oof! Shohozan Slapped Down!


“Get Down On Your GD Knees”

The casual ease with which Kisenosato slapped Shohozan down belies the contentiousness of the bout. Shohozan put together an amazing effort and had the yokozuna on the ropes but just couldn’t pull off the victory. In a great bout, Shohozan got the upper hand when he was able to get a two handed belt grip and he started walking Kise back. But once on the bales, Kisenosato pivoted. As Shohozan resisted the throw to the right, he ended up getting tossed aside to the left in a brutal finishing move. I, honestly, don’t know which finishing move was more devastating…this, or Chiyonokuni’s tottari body slam over Arawashi a few bouts previously. Just some good ole “wrassling” out there today, I tell you what.

Kakuryu had his own yokozuna-style beat down of Shodai. I was happy to see the authority with which he was able to put the komusubi away. It wasn’t easy but the headshots were effective, getting Shodai to back up and out. As Bruce has mentioned before, Kakuryu’s sumo often seems very reactive so he gets himself into difficult situations but today, he was in control. Harumafuji dispatched Takanoiwa with an over-eager yokozuna-tornado death spin that sent both off the dohyo into the crowd.

Mitakeumi was no match for Terunofuji. Our lone Ozeki almost looks healthy as he bats away the competition with contempt. It’s like someone stole his lunch money. I love to watch that intensity. And we always get that intensity from Ikioi, don’t we? Takayasu had to fight for this win, that’s for sure, as Ikioi dragged him along the edge of the ring but Takayasu wouldn’t topple. He regained control, bringing action back to the center of the ring. Once he caught his breath, he made his move, dragging Ikioi to the clay. Kisenosato and Takayasu stay in the lead, undefeated.

Didn’t someone tell Sokokurai not to let Kotoshogiku wrap him up? He must not have gotten the message because the “hug-and-chug” was in full effect. Chiyoshouma was committed to the nodowa, which was actually very effective against Takarafuji, as he backed him up and finished with a throw. Yoshikaze weathered a few celebratory blows from Aoiyama and quickly worked the giant Bulgarian out of the ring. Endo was on the ball, edging Hokutofuji closer to that first make-koshi. Ura withstood a fierce attack from Kotoyuki. But with a quick “olé” of a hard-charging Kotoyuki, Ura dodged his way to another win.

 

Haru Day 7 Recap


Testicle-blow-by

Better Late Than Never!

There were few surprises in today’s action, but there was a massive amount of great sumo. We continue to see the lower San’yaku out-perform their historical averages, and this is led by Takayasu really dominating every match. This is, without a doubt, the best I have seen Takayasu perform ever, and he has been a strong contender for over a year. Pleasant surprises continue with Kotoshogiku, who seems to have survived the Sekiwake “hell” week with a winning score, and the possibility or racking up 10 wins. While in general I would encourage him to retire and move on to his new career of being a coach, it would be outstanding if his last act as a sekitori were to regain his Ozeki title.

Also in Ozeki land, Terunofuji – the real Terunofuji – has been gracing the dohyo once more after a long and miserable absence. If you have recently started to follow sumo, his performance this basho is more in line with the kind of sumo that made him Ozeki, and once made him actually feared.

Highlight Matches

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Takakeisho was in charge the whole time, even though Ura twice attempted his space-time defying back bend. Ura fans, like myself, need to keep in mind that there will be an adjustment period where he figures out Makuuchi. My only desire for him this basho is Kachi-koshi. Ura’s apology to the shimpan for the spontaneous lap dance was nice – the guy is total class.

Sadanoumi defeats Kyokushuho – Huge effort from both rikishi, this battle was a strength contest that played out across the dohyo of an extended period. Great effort from Kyokushuho in spot of his hurt knee.

Ishiura defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi is totally hapless these days, and I kind of feel sorry for him. Today’s bout with Ishiura was no exception, where the two grappled to a stalemate, then Ishirua unleashed an improvised move that turned into a rare kimarite: shitatehineri. Or as I would call it an under arm tea-bagging.

Tochinoshin defeats Myogiryu – via a dirty henka

Okinoumi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan is no longer undefeated, and Okinoumi made it look easy.

Endo defeats Chiyoshoma – Outstanding technicals on this bout. Every time I think Endo has lost his mojo, he has a day like today where he does some really nice “if you are watching closely” stuff and stumps his opponent.

Hokutofuji defeats Arawashi – Hokutofuji went yotsu-zumō today, and it worked really well. Arawashi had a good chance at a throw, bout could not close the deal. As a college Yokozuna, I hope that Hokutofuji will employ mawashi fighting more now that he is in the top division.

Chiyonokuni defeats Yoshikaze – This lasted only a second, and Chiyonokuni won via hikiotoshi, or if you watch it the kimarite was really the “testicle-blow-by technique” deftly employed by Chiyonokuni. I would not be surprised to find out later that Chiyonokuni broke wind as Yoshikaze went sailing past his nethers. Strange and wonderful sumo indeed.

Kotoshogiku defeats Shohozan – Shohozan repeated Mitakeumi’s mistke: Hey, lets go chest to chest with the human bulldozer! Once again, having done the hard work for him, Shohozan was out backwards over the tawara before he could react.

Takayasu defeats Sokokurai – Winning technique should have been “Tachiai so strong that it loosened three fillings”. Not sure what kind of magic Takayasu is using, but he is ripe for a Henka in the coming week. That Tachiai is brutal and strong.

Terunofuji defeats Takekaze – Or should read, Terunofuji picks up 330 pound Takekaze like a bale of hay and removes him from the dohyo. If Terunofuji gets tired of sumo he can seek gainful employment as a piece of heavy machinery.

Kisenosato defeats Mitakeumi – Of course he does. Can anyone stop the great pumpkin now? He is so in his grove and his sumo is exactly what he wants every time. Everyone who thought he was not Yokozuna worthy can now get to the back of the line.

Harumafuji defeats Shodai – This bout made me very happy. Not because I don’t love me some Shodai, but Harumafuji looked more like his own self for the first time this basho. Word to Shodai, you are always too high on the tachiai. I know you are trying to protect your face, but it’s how you lose in the first moment of battle. You have to decide if you want to stay pretty or be good. Keep in mind, Yoshikaze was once a very handsome man.