Kyushu Day 6 Preview

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Greetings from a surprisingly windy Tokyo!

Now, look: the upside of all of this kyujo and injury business is that if you’re someone who writes match day previews, there’s less writing that you have to do. But honestly, I’d rather be writing another paragraph and get to see the likes of Tochinoshin and Goeido battle it out. What will 2020 look like for them… or any of us? These existential questions and more will not be answered on Day 6 of the Kyushu basho.

Leaders: Hakuho, Asanoyama, Meisei, Enho, Sadanoumi, Yutakayama, Shodai, Wakatakakage

What We’re Watching on Day 6

Daishoho vs Kagayaki – Daishoho looks disinterested at this point, so the last thing he probably needs is to face someone who’s fresh from a rest day. I wouldn’t be surprised if Daishoho runs into a couple “exchange” bouts with someone from Juryo in Week 2. Tough to pick against Kagayaki here.

Nishikigi vs Takanosho – Takanosho didn’t have to work too hard to dispatch Daishoho on Day 5, but Nishikigi found himself on the wrong end of a very genki opponent. Both of these guys (2-3) need to start putting up the white stars, otherwise they’re going to be looking over their shoulder. Both of these guys like a good grapple, so if they go strength against strength then it should be fairly entertaining.

Daishomaru vs Chiyotairyu – The Kokonoe man has been in good form the last few days, and he’s a jovial fellow so here’s hoping sumo’s good natured sideburn enthusiast can keep it up. His tachiai should be able to overpower Daishomaru, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s also a bit more powerful all around than the Oitekaze man. Their career series is 5-4 and usually ends up with someone face down on the clay.

Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Both of these rikishi are 2-3 and you can pretty much copy what I said about Nishikigi and Takanosho here, except I think this may be a bit more of a straightforward shoving match. We’re approaching the end of the first week and these guys have yet to blast off the ring rust, so here’s hoping they play themselves into form sooner than later.

Chiyomaru vs Shodai – I had really rather fancied Shodai to win against Kotoshogiku, but he didn’t seem to have any kind of answer for the most predictable move in sumo. Chiyomaru had an easy go of it yesterday, but Shodai may put up a bit more resistance than Ishiura. A clash of styles here, and whoever establishes their preferred method at the tachiai – oshi for Chiyomaru and yotsu for Shodai – should win the day. Surprisingly this is only the third meeting of these two, with honours even.

Ishiura vs Yutakayama – Mirror records for these two: 1-4 Ishiura meets 4-1 Yutakayama. Ishiura has looked really light on his feet this tournament and seems to be simply getting blown out of the ring, so he’s meeting the wrong opponent in Yutakayama, who relies on powerful pushing and thrusting. Don’t @ me, sumo internet…. but with Ishiura looking at a rough scoreline I just have a sneaky feeling we might see a henka.

Tsurugisho vs Kotoshogiku – The crowd has really been behind Kotoshogiku all tournament, so it was a relief to see him finally pick up a win. Tsurugisho has fared fairly well in this tournament up until Day 5. This is the first meeting of the two, and I do wonder whether the gaburi-yori from Kotoshogiku will be effective against an opponent who’s never seen it. If Tsurugisho’s never had to defend against it, he may be in for a tough day out.

Onosho vs Sadanoumi – Onosho showed more of his old self on Day 5 with a real powerful victory. Sadanoumi just keeps motoring along. This should be a pretty good clash, although I could see Sadanoumi trying to hit an early slap down to avoid a drawn out oshi battle. Sadanoumi’s best method here is probably to get Onosho’s arms wrapped up and use a grappling approach to usher him out or down via beltless throw. Onosho has won 3 of 4, but Sadanoumi won the most recent match and is in the better form making it a little more of a coin toss.

Shohozan vs Enho – Right on the halfway mark, we get the first real highlight bout of the day. Between honbasho and jungyo events, these two have loads of epic matches in the tank already. There’s so much narrative in these matches: the young upstart vs the wily veteran, the thrower vs the slapper, precise manoeuvers vs street brawling. All of that to say: Enho has won by oshidashi a time or two, and Shohozan isn’t afraid to go to the belt. Shohozan has won all three previous matches on honbasho clay, but I have a sneaky feeling Enho might just squeak this out and add a bit of needle to the growing rivalry. Anything could happen, and hopefully it will.

Kotoeko vs Ryuden – The schedulers give us another pair here who are below their usual level. These two have similar yotsu-accented styles, and I happen to believe that Ryuden is simply the stronger practitioner of that style. This is borne out in his 4-2 lifetime advantage over the Sadogatake man. It would behoove Ryuden to put a little run together, and I think this is a good place to start.

Aoiyama vs Okinoumi – It’s the 27th matchup of these two veterans, with Shimane-ken’s Okinoumi leading with 16 victories over the Bulgarian pummeller. Okinoumi’s in much better form than his 2-3 record would indicate, while Aoiyama (3-2) seemed a bit confused by Enho on Day 5. Despite his head-to-head advantage, Okinoumi rarely gets to execute his style of sumo over Aoiyama, and we’re probably primed for an oshidashi or tsukidashi affair. Okinoumi has looked more genki, so I’m tipping him here.

Abi vs Daieisho – It’s a Saitama derby! Abi really showed up on Day 5, but again his footwork was sloppy and almost lost him the match. I don’t think that’s going to cut it against Daieisho who has been in great form, and will be rested after getting the day off after picking up a fusen-sho. What is almost guaranteed is that this will be an all out tsuppari battle. Daieisho won 4 of their first 5 matches, but Abi has since won four in a row from his smaller opponent this year. I’d make this a bit of a coin flip, Abi’s ability cancelled out by Daieisho’s stronger form.

Hokutofuji vs Kotoyuki – Hokutofuji has nothing to worry about after his Day 5 loss in my opinion, but he might if he drops this. Kotoyuki has more or less been in good nick. Both men are oshi-zumo practitioners, and Hokutofuji has been fighting at by far the higher level. It’s a good test for Kotoyuki and a win for him would certainly make it easier to envision him making it back to san’yaku someday soon. I just think Hokutofuji is going to have too much for him though. This could be the match where we see Kotoyuki head a few rows into the crowd, although he may well get slapped down to the clay first.

Asanoyama vs Endo – Asanoyama has looked strong and has to be a serious yusho contender. He came out to execute his style of sumo against Hokutofuji and was dominant in so doing. Endo has started to resemble the hit-and-miss Endo that we grew accustomed to in recent years before he really turned the corner the last couple tournaments to make his san’yaku case. This could and in fact should be a really good belt bout. Endo’s best chance might be to come out with a pushing attack and put Asanoyama on the back foot a bit, but it might be a risky move. Endo has won 4 from 6 overall in this rivalry, giving Asanoyama a little history to overcome… but I think Asanoyama will do it and keep himself firmly in the title race.

Mitakeumi vs Takarafuji – Mitakeumi looks awful to me, and he simply has to win this match. He’s reaching a point where he’s not only jeopardising his chances of Ozeki promotion this tournament (he probably needs to win out), but if he keeps coughing up matches to lower rankers then he might not have a chance to seal the deal in January. You know what you’re going to get from Takarafuji: a strong defence against any kind of mawashi or grappling strategy, so Mitakeumi is best served reverting to a powerful oshi attack to try and blow the veteran away.

Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – It’s surprising to me that Takakeisho has owned Tamawashi to the degree that he has (7 wins out of 10). This should be a cagey pushing-thrusting battle with either rikishi capable of throwing a few wild tricks into the bargain. Takakeisho will be the narrow favourite, with oshidashi the nailed on favourite no matter who takes the kensho.

Myogiryu vs Takayasu – Myogiryu has coughed up a couple easy ones this basho, which may be what Takayasu needs. I thought Takayasu was strategically sound in his Day 5 loss to Meisei. He picked the correct style of sumo to deploy, but simply wasn’t able to execute at the same level of his opponent. He did worryingly start to feel his injured arm again after that match. If he doesn’t go kyujo (and I don’t think he will), Myogiryu might be the type of opponent he needs to face: speedy, but with no one skill that’s better than any of Takayasu’s.

Meisei vs Hakuho – The highlight bout of the second half of the day, and one featuring a first meeting of two men who are in no mood to lose. Meisei’s defensive work was fantastic against Takayasu, but he’ll need to take that to another level to cope with The Boss. Hakuho looks in good shape as he can smell opportunities to win. He should keep his focus though, because this could be a real banana peel for someone who’s been serving up more kinboshi lately than anyone would like. He’ll need more than he did against Myogiryu, and he’ll probably noticed that a weakened Takayasu had Meisei on the ropes with a strong pushing attack. Add to that a stronger tachiai and better finishing moves, and Hakuho should still be a strong favourite to get the job done here.

Kyushu Day 5 Highlights

Daishomaru defeated Terutsuyoshi. This was a quick one. After a decent tachiai, Terutsuyoshi circled the larger Daishomaru and seemed to lose his ring presence as his left foot landed on the tawara. From there a modest shove from Daishomaru was all that was needed for the win. Oshidashi.

Kagayaki fusen win over Wakatakakage.

Takanosho defeated Daishoho. After the tachiai, Takanosho got in low under Daishoho’s attack, brushed his arm away while securing a morozashi, and drove forward…almost through the gyoji. Yorikiri.

Chiyotairyu defeated Nishikigi. This bout was all Chiyotairyu tsuppari. Nishikigi tried an early shoulder blast to no effect. Chiyotairyu responded with some wave action tsuppari and thrust Nishikigi off the dohyo. Tsukidashi.

Chiyomaru defeated Ishiura. Ishiura’s hit and shift on the tachiai was well snuffed out by the Chiyomaru. Chiyomaru did not over-commit to moving forward so when Ishiura moved to Chiyomaru’s right, Maru drove the Miyagino beya man over the bales, giving no room for Ishiura to get a belt grip or mount an offense. Oshidashi.

Kotoshogiku defeated Shodai. Shodai allowed Kotoshogiku to play his game from the outset. Giku was able to get inside and wrap up the tournament leader and drive forward through Shodai. Yorikiri. Giku didn’t even launch much of his jack-rabbit gabburi attack. With the loss utter capitulation, Shodai ended West’s streak of victories and fell off the top of the leaderboard and into the mix at 4-1 while Kotoshogiku picked up his first win.

Sadanoumi defeated Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi had a stronger tachiai, driving Sadanoumi back. However, Sadanoumi secures a solid left hand belt grip. While Shimanoumi launched his attack, Sadanoumi powered through with that belt grip and picked up his third win. Yorikiri.

Yutakayama defeated Shohozan. Shohozan tried to move around Yutakayama to get a right-hand grip of green mawashi. The mountain successfully defended, however, and firmly locked onto Shohozan’s right arm, spun him around and then thrust him out of the ring. Tsukidashi. Yutakayama joined Shodai with a share of the lead at 4-1.

Kotoeko defeated Tsurugisho. Kotoeko rose up straight to greet Tsurugisho’s tachiai, and received a hail of tsuppari as punishment for such a weak start. Kotoeko circled under the barrage and Tsurugisho surprisingly couldn’t keep up. He took a knee in the middle of the dohyo under what I thought was a rather light, instinctive deflection from the lavender mawashi. Hatakikomi.

Enho defeated Aoiyama. Enho shifted to his right at the tachiai, hiding on the dark side of Aoiyama. All I could see for a while was a load of Aoiyama haymakers raining down on something on the other side. Thankfully, Enho rotated slightly in time to see that one of Aoiyama’s thrusts nearly shoved Enho down but he recovered and with a subtle shift and pull of his own was able to pull Aoiyama off balance and onto all fours. Hikiotoshi. Enho now holds a share of the lead at 4-1 while Aoiyama picked up his second loss.

Onosho defeated Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki unleashed a torrent of blows to Onosho’s face, forcing his head up and back. He then pulled for a hatakikomi attempt but Onosho was all over it. He knew what was coming, locked on target with a tractor beam and helped Kotoyuki’s own momentum carry him off the playing surface. Oshidashi.

Tamawashi defeated Ryuden. I want to know what aroma therapy Ryuden has in that bright red towel. Hopefully he can change it to something more effective against oshi-zumo, though. Ryuden tried, rather meekly, to get a left-hand grip but Tamawashi’s battering kept him away. Ryuden attempted to launch his own oshi-attack but Tamawashi piled on the pressure, and shoved Ryuden over the bales and into the crowd. Overwhelmed. Oshidashi.

Asanoyama defeated Hokutofuji. Asanoyama quickly wrapped up Hokutofuji at the tachiai. Hokutofuji seemed to want to have a leaning contest but his positioning after the tachiai was nowhere near the middle of the ring. His right foot was nearly on the tawara. If he wanted to have some long, drawn out belt battle, he’d need to work himself back to the center of the ring. From this position, however, Asanoyama was not going to ease off his attack. So while Hokutofuji leaned, Asanoyama applied more pressure, and forced him out. Yorikiri.

Abi defeated Endo. This was Abi’s match from the outset but his over exuberance nearly cost him. He wasn’t down for any of Endo’s head games and stare down, forcing the pair to reset. At the tachiai, he started battering Endo, whose half-hearted attempt to grab the mawashi was met with a hail of slaps. As Endo backed out, Abi stepped forward and nearly over the bales himself.

Daieisho fusen win over Tochinoshin. With Tochinoshin’s ozeki rank lost, there’s already talk of retirement but that’s premature. If he can take this break to recover, there’s no reason for retirement. Yes, he’s lost his ozeki rank but he likely has quite a while he could be effective as sekitori.

Okinoumi defeated Mitakeumi. Okinoumi pressured Mitakeumi after the tachiai with a vicious thrust to the face. Mitakeumi was forced back but worked his right arm around Okinoumi’s neck and into a headlock. He used the headlock to twist and try to throw Okinoumi but Okinoumi’s balance was superior. With the headlock attack, this kept Mitakeumi’s body positioned high. From Okinoumi’s lower center of gravity he was able to then effectively carry Mitakeumi across the ring and out, over the threshold. Yorikiri. Both men are 2-3.

Meisei defeated Takayasu. Meisei weathered everything Takayasu threw at him. Time and time again, Takayasu’s tsuppari would force Meisei to the edge but the Ozeki could never finish him off. Meisei would slip inside and back to the center of the ring, forcing the Ozeki to launch a new attack. Takayasu even tried a shoulder blast but that ended awkwardly with Takayasu’s back to Meisei. Takayasu then started a new attack and this time Meisei grabbed his left arm, putting his shoulder into a weird position and changing his direction, suddenly. This forced Takayasu to lose his balance, landing in a heap on the tawara. Kainahineri. Meisei joins the leadership pack at 4-1 while Takayasu falls to a disappointing 2-3.

Takarafuji defeated Takakeisho. Takakeisho was about to start some wave action but Slippin’ Jimmy slipped to the side and the T-Rex toppled over. Tsukiotoshi.

Hakuho defeated Myogiryu. Hakuho greeted Myogiryu with a quick shoulder blast and as he tried to tuck his left hand under for a belt grip, Myogiryu slapped his hand and backed away, retreating to the bales. As Hakuho pursued, Myogiryu lost his balance. Tsukiotoshi. Hakuho is back where he belongs, atop the group of leaders at 4-1.

Our thoughts go out to all those in Hong Kong and Chile. Stay safe.

Kyushu Day 5 Preview

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Incredibly, the Kyushu injury curse continues! Wakatakakage will be kyujo from Day 5, which means that we’ve lost one sekitori per day in addition to Ichinojo, who started the tournament on the sidelines. He has not been officially added to the NSK’s list at the time of writing, but if reports are true, injury has taken one of the co-leaders off the board (and handed a useful win to Kagayaki). It’s a good job these tournaments are only 15 days…

[Edited to add: Tochinoshin has now been pronounced kyujo as well with an abdominal injury. Apart from the extremely unlikely scenario in which he miraculously returns from Day 8 and wins out, this will end his attempt to reclaim his Ozeki status.]

What We’re Watching on Day 5

Terutsuyoshi vs Daishomaru – Daishomaru came with a game plan on Day 4 and he’ll need to show more of the same energy in his pushing attack against an undersized opponent in Terutsuyoshi. Both men are struggling a bit to find their best sumo, and the head to head is split one apiece.

Daishoho vs Takanosho – Woof.

Nishikigi vs Chiyotairyu – For me, Chiyotairyu was at his absolute best on Day 4. It was an unrelenting forward moving machine. He needs to avoid getting his arms locked up by Nishikigi in this match, which feels all about direction. If Chiyotairyu can go forward in a straight line from the tachiai, he’s got a great chance, but if Nishikigi can redirect him into lateral movement, the match will favour the Isenoumi man.

Ishiura vs Chiyomaru – Ishiura proved that it’s more about the size of the fight in the dog on Day 4. Interestingly he seems to do better against smaller opponents while miniature stablemate Enho claims to do better against the larger opponents. Ishiura is definitely not getting his arms around Chiyomaru’s belly so again it’s going to have to be mobility that gets used as a primary weapon here. And it seems to work: Ishiura has taken 8 of 12 from the Kokonoe man.

Kotoshogiku vs Shodai – It’s another Kyushu derby, as Fukuoka’s Kotoshogiku gets Kumamoto’s Shodai. There are contrasting fortunes here as the former Ozeki is winless, while a win for unbeaten Shodai would move him into sole possession of the lead. Shodai took more initiative than we’ve seen at the tachiai in the previous day’s fixture and it worked out well for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reverts to type in this match as it will allow him a better grip on Kotoshogiku’s mawashi. The Sadogatake man hasn’t drawn a lot of luck in the fixture list so far, and I don’t think that will change here.

Sadanoumi vs Shimanoumi – Sadanoumi has won both the past matchups and appears to be yet again quietly putting together a nice tournament. Shimanoumi might be a tough character to move but after his impressive performance against Yutakayama, Sadanoumi will be coming into this match full of confidence. He’s won both prior matches against Shimanoumi.

Shohozan vs Yutakayama – Local fan favourite Shohozan has been at the peak of his powers in this tournament, running roughshod over the middle of the rank and file. I predict a riot in this encounter: after the frantic grapple and throw action on Day 4, I think he has recharged his harite and tsuppari machine. Yutakayama was really motoring along but the manner of his defeat on Day 4 means he will be open for examination here: was it just a blip or is he still coming to grips with routine opposition?

Tsurugisho vs Kotoeko – Tsurugisho seems to be adjusting well to top division life. Kotoeko seems a little bereft of confidence at the moment. This will be the 11th bout between the two, who have registered five shiroboshi apiece in their previous encounters. The form guide would indicate Tsurugisho to hold the best chance.

Aoiyama vs Enho – It’s a first time meeting of two rikishi with vastly different styles, builds and fanbases. I tend to be in the camp that thinks actually, Enho’s on a great career trajectory. That he hasn’t hit a huge 12 or 13 win tournament yet means that he’s slowly adapted to the higher quality of opponent, and he’s been tested gradually rather than getting thrown in at the top end and getting his confidence wrecked. He will still take his lumps from time to time, and there are few better to dole those out than Big Dan. I have a hard time thinking that Aoiyama is going to be able to keep up with Enho’s mobility and simply blast him out of the dohyo, so I think he reverts to the form that has served him well recently and tries a slap or pull down. Spare a thought for Enho, who is likely to try and bury his head in Aoiyama’s… well, let’s not mention it.

Onosho vs Kotoyuki – Here’s a matchup of two pusher-thrusters in rather different form. Kotoyuki has continued his impressive, forward moving, sumo. While there’s not much difference in their records this early on, it’s the manner of Onosho’s defeats that I would consider to be concerning. These guys have split their past matches one apiece, but Onosho’s win came in 2017 and both these guys are different animals now in terms of their genki level. This should be a very quick match, and one that presents Kotoyuki with a great chance to keep up his momentum.

Tamawashi vs Ryuden – I think Tamawashi has the beating of Ryuden in this match, as Ryuden has become a bit of a Tochinoshin-lite for me. While he has great heart, he doesn’t possess the dominating mawashi ability of the Georgian former-ish Ozeki, and he’s also susceptible to pusher-thrusters.

Hokutofuji vs Asanoyama – This has to be the highlight bout of the second half of activity. Both of these 3-1 men have a real legitimate shout at yusho contention and/or further san’yaku promotion in their current form. I loved that Asanoyama just shrugged off his bodyslam by Hakuho to come back and reel off another victory. Hokutofuji has been absolutely fearless, and similarly overcame an early defeat to the GOAT to put massive dents in Ozeki promotion and retention challenges from Mitakeumi and Takayasu. Surprisingly it’s only the 5th meeting (past matches have been split two apiece) of these two rikishi, and it could be a rivalry that takes centre stage over the coming years. Hokutofuji must keep up his speed off the tachiai: if he can establish his pushing attack early he has a real chance. But if Asanoyama is allowed any opportunity to pull him off balance with a slap or a mawashi grip, then the former yusho-winner will have a great shot himself.

Abi vs Endo – Both of these guys enter the match in disappointing form. Abi has been far short of his usual energetic self, and has displayed sloppy footwork over his opening matches. That would appear to hand the opportunity to Endo, an inconsistent technician with extremely sound ring sense. But Abi still has it in his locker to blow Endo away, which is going to rely on a storm of tsuppari straight from the tachiai. The longer this match goes the more likely the momentum shifts to Endo. Abi has a 5-2 edge in the rivalry.

Daieisho vs TochinoshinTochinoshin has done well to bounce back from an 0-2 start, and may feel he’s finding enough form to make his 10 win challenge to regain Ozeki status a reality. Daieisho is probably the worst opponent to run into at that moment, as the smaller pusher-thruster has won the past two from the Georgian (who leads 6-3 overall), has a style of sumo Tochinoshin typically finds it difficult to cope with these days, and is also fighting at the peak of his game to date. Even if he is the presumptive favourite on paper, a win here for Tochinoshin would go a long way to restoring the confidence that he can win at the top level. [Edited to add: there are unconfirmed reports at this stage that Tochinoshin may also be going kyujo, which would be incredibly significant as it would end his efforts to automatically regain Ozeki status. More to follow.][Edited again to add: Tochinoshin is now confirmed kyujo and will be set for significant demotion if as expected he does not return. Daieisho will get the fusen-sho victory and improve to 3-2.]

Mitakeumi vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi has had a really horrible fixture list so far, picking up only a fusen-sho in four days of action. But he can take a lot of heart from pushing Hakuho all the way in his previous match, and should be a tough customer for Mitakeumi. The Sekiwake has very little margin for error going forward in his Ozeki promotion push, having dropped another match he would have been expected to win to Daieisho. Okinoumi has won 2 from 3 against Mitakeumi, whose challenge here is to establish a strong pushing-thrusting attack from the off. While Mitakeumi’s all around game has improved immensely, he is not a match for the veteran on the mawashi and needs to tailor his attack appropriately here.

Meisei vs Takayasu – While the form guide would suggest we should be fearful for the Ozeki here, I think Takayasu has a good chance to win this. Meisei has really turned his game up several levels since the start of the Aki basho, but if you look at where Takayasu has been blown away in Fukuoka, they have been in matches against extreme pusher-thrusters: which Meisei is not. Meisei is a tenacious young rikishi who may be a san’yaku fixture for years to come… but I think unless he has lost all confidence, a one-armed Takayasu desperate for wins should be able to get the job done here.

Takakeisho vs Takarafuji – By this point, against a depleted field, Takakeisho probably expects to be in a yusho race no matter what. But the immediate aim is a healthy 8+ wins to retain his Ozeki status for the first time without falling back into kadoban. Takarafuji is probably a good opponent for him, as the defensive specialist needs to be able to actually get a hold of his opponent to stalemate them, and this is not an opportunity that Takekeisho typically affords to his opposition. I’ll tip another win for the Ozeki in this match, with the 3-1 Takakeisho leading their head-to-head rivalry 3-1.

Myogiryu vs Hakuho – Hakuho’s won 19 of 20 from Myogiryu, and the last 8 have all come via different kimarite. The Hakuho of old would be searching to try and win with another different move just to keep himself interested, but at this point in his career, any win that keeps him in the yusho race and on the dohyo will do. Hakuho was given a real mawashi battle by Okinoumi in the previous match, and he’d do well to start to stay away from his opponents’ strengths from now on. Myogiryu is a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type, but his calling card is often – like his stablemate Goeido – his speedy attack from the tachiai. Don’t be surprised to see Hakuho deploy another harite off the mark here to blunt and divert that attack.

Kyushu Day 4 Highlights

Wakatakakage defeats Terutsuyoshi. It was a quick oshi-battle with Wakatakakage proving strongest, slapping Terutsuyoshi to the edge and ushering him back, off the dohyo, yorikiri. It was a costly win as Wakatakakage was visibly in pain after the win. He had seemed to twist his right ankle. Wakatakakage is undefeated but now uncertain for tomorrow. Terutsuyoshi is 2-2. The next five bouts are a snooze fest, so I’m not bothered if you skip down to Shohozan/Kotoshogiku.

Daishoho defeats Nishikigi. The two locked in immediately on one another’s belt with a strong tachiai. Daishomaru was stronger with his left-hand grip and was able to work Nishikigi out for the yorikiri win, his first of the tournament. Nishikigi fell to 2-2 while Daishoho got his first win of the tournament.

Daishomaru defeats Chiyomaru. Daishomaru executed a subtle sidestep on the tachiai, catching Chiyomaru off-guard. Daishomaru used the considerable combined momentum to keep the pair moving forward until the bright chartreuse mawashi of Chiyomaru was out for the oshidashi win.

Ishiura defeats Takanosho. Ishiura’s quick slap to Takanosho’s face on the tachiai seemed to disorient Takanosho. Ishiura engaged low and effectively leveraged Takanosho out. Yorikiri.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki. Chiyotairyu got the best of the tachiai, duplicating Ishiura’s tactic of the slap at the tachiai. It seemed to catch Kagayaki half-asleep because Chiyotairyu was just much more active and forceful, guiding the golden Kagayaki out over the bales, stage left. Yorikiri.

Shodai defeats Shimanoumi. Shodai remains undefeated at 4-0. He was the bigger man and played his game. He absorbed Shimanoumi’s tachiai and used his size advantage and solid yotsu grip to push Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri.

Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku. Shohozan’s half henka disrupted Kotoshogiku’s usual bumpety, bumpety game plan. Kotoshogiku recovered and locked in for a lean-fest. After a few seconds of leaning, Shohozan struck Kotoshogiku with a swift kick with the right foot and then twisted around and threw Kotoshogiku with a beautiful uwatenage in the first actual makuuchi match of the day.

Sadanoumi defeats Yutakayama. After the excitement of the Shohozan/Kotoshogiku battle, Sadanoumi put me back to sleep with a quick, easy win over Yutakayama. Sadanoumi got the better of the tachiai and walked Yutakayama out. What else? Yorikiri.

Tsurugisho defeats Onosho. In the second makuuchi bout of the day, Onosho started in with some tsuppari but Tsurugisho wasn’t having any of it, reached out for Onosho’s head, and shoved him to the clay. Hatakikomi.

Enho defeats Kotoeko. Kotoeko did not want to let Enho submarine him and get a belt grip, forcing the two into an oshi tsuppari battle. This worked to Enho’s advantage as he was much more aggressive and Kotoeko was just trying to react and deflect. When Enho charged, Kotoeko pulled but Enho maintained his balance, kept the lavender mawashi firmly in front. One final shove from the bales sent Kotoeko into the first row of spectators.

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi. This was a textbook Aoiyama bout. The tachiai was solid with neither man really gaining an advantage. Aoiyama pushed Tamawahi’s head up and then used his reach to grab Tamawashi’s head and pull him down as he pulled back to the tawara. Hatakikomi.

Kotoyuki defeats Ryuden. This was a textbook Kokoyuki bout. He overpowered Ryuden with fierce tsuppari. Ryuden could not figure out a counter attack and the Penguin cast him from the playing surface, into the crowd. Next time, have a game plan, Ryuden. It’s not like Kotoyuki is a puzzle. Everyone knows what tricks he’s got.

Meisei defeats Abi. Meisei shifted right at the tachiai and I thought this was his undoing because Abi read it well and the tactic brought Meisei close to the tawara. But he stayed low and almost coiled. That seemed to give him enough purchase and leverage to work against Abi who was far too high. Meisei struck out from that coil, again and again at Abi’s high stance, forcing the komusubi off the dohyo.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu Solid tachiai and Myogiryu immediately went on the attack but he couldn’t generate any effective momentum against the man mountain. Asanoyama practiced patience and fundamentals while Myogiryu feverishly bounced around like Roger Rabbit. Asanoyama stayed composed with his arms wrapped around Myogiryu

Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi laid into Daieisho from the tachiai with some forceful tsuppari. But Daieisho weathered the outer bands of the hurricane and countered by stepping forward into the eye of the storm where the battering stopped and he was able to lock in with both hands on Mitakeumi’s mawashi, turning the tables and forcing him out. The first entertaining yorikiri bout of the day.

Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji. Both guys are belt guys, so after a solid tachiai, the two settled into a grapple at the center of the dohyo. With the sky crane out of service, the Georgian needs a bigger bag of tricks and he sure found an effective one. He reached up behind Takarafuji’s neck (yes, he has one) and executed a great twisting neck throw. Kubihineri. I’m impressed.

Takakeisho defeats Endo. This matchup is a total contrast of styles; Endo’s a solid belt guy while T-Rex can’t reach belts. On the tachiai, Endo tried to reach in to get a belt grip but Takakeisho forced him away in, I think, the best sign that he does still have power in those thrusts. With the bout being fought on Takakeisho’s terms, Endo was at a disadvantage. As he tried again to lean in and get a belt hold, Takakeisho slapped him down for the hatakikomi win.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu. All the drama and pre-match staring lasted longer than the fight! Hokutofuji shifted left after a firm tachiai. The shift was perfectly timed as Takayasu had just started to charge forward again. Finding nothing there he grasped out wildly to try to get a hold of something to arrest his momentum. Hokutofuji used that momentum to thrust the ozeki into the crowd. Oshidashi.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi. This was like an old Hakuho/Harumafuji matchup: a great belt battle. Okinoumi did more than just try to hang on. Twice he tried to initiate an attack, trying to lift the Yokozuna. Hakuho countered by guiding the action to the edge and then pivoting the pair over the edge, with the Boss landing on top of an exhausted Okinoumi.

So, the yusho race is led by Shodai with Wakatakakage limping into tomorrow. What is this world coming to? Let’s face it, there’s not a yusho race, yet. See where we stand at Day 10 and how many wrestlers have their kachi-koshi in the bag then. There will be no zensho and 12 may be enough to take the Cup. The race is open and Kotoshogiku’s just about the only one out of it.