All eyes might be on Mitakeumi, Tochinoshin, Hakuho and Kakuryu, but I’m going to keep my spotlight aimed at mid and lower Makuuchi for a bit longer, because some of these bouts were very good sumo, and because I’m eagerly watching to see who can and can’t avoid demotion.
Ryuden – Kotoyuki. As I said before, Kotoyuki really needed this win, and I didn’t expect it to be easy for him. However, he pulled it off, a fine display of oshi-zumo keeping Ryuden at arms’ length and stopping him getting anything resembling a mawashi grip. It was really more Ryuden’s loss than Kotoyuki’s win, since the Takadagawa-beya man misjudged his place in the ring and stepped outside while retreating, but Kotoyuki definitely deserves credit for clearly winning the tachiai and preventing Ryuden from ever getting a touch of the belt.
Ishiura – Nishikigi. Another “must-win”, and although Ishiura’s sumo looked solid yesterday, he can’t pull it off again. Nishikigi’s rising arms prevent the low tachiai, and Ishiura finds himself entangled, controlled, and forced out. He can’t disengage, he can’t get low enough to lever Nishikigi upright, and with only a right outside grip he can’t manage a throw. Ishiura is now make-koshi and his return to Juryo is all but assured.
Okinoumi – Takanosho. Both come in to their first ever meeting with 5-5 scores. Takanosho puts on an excellent display of no-tricks, chest-to-chest sumo without a mawashi grip, and is able to drive Okinoumi (ten years his senior) out with pure force.
Kyokutaisei has apparently decided that if he tries to wrestle on that leg again, it will just come off at the knee. Chiyomaru gets the fusensho and avoids make-koshi for one more day.
Sadanoumi – Chiyoshoma. The Villain of Kokonoe-Beya has no interest in moving forwards, and after his hatakikomi attempt fails, his arm-pull fails, and Sadanoumi goes chest-to-chest with arms high, he’s able to perform a Sukuinage (beltless overarm throw) right at the bales and secure a win. I’m still not sure how he manages to find the leverage for that throw and end up on top, although he faceplants down the side of the dohyo for his trouble.
Yoshikaze – Daieisho. Daiesho looked almost like a shorter, rounder Abi in this, with an absolutely unceasing windmill of tsuppari and thrusts that slowly drove Yoshikaze back to the tawara and out.
Takanoiwa – Kotoshogiku. Takanoiwa has a plan here. In the first few seconds of the bout, he’s able to get a good firm belt grip first on the right outside and then the left inside, which does wonders to neutralize the gaburi-yori attack. After Takanoiwa makes two failed attempts to lift him, Kotoshogiki struggles mightily to get the bulldozer into first gear, but Takanoiwa is able to rotate and throw him down with that underarm grip (shitatenage).
Shohozan – Hokutofuji. This bout seems to be all Hokutofuji. With a firm nodawa, an excellent ability to deflect Shohozan’s thrusting attacks, and enough stability to withstand slap-down attempts, Hokutofuji drives Shohozan on two complete laps of the dohyo before finally shoving him out. With this win, Hokutofuji is kachi-koshi.
No-one is going to call Aoiyama – Onosho a highlight with a straight face. Onosho is now disappointingly make-koshi. It was at least better sumo than Daishomaru‘s henka win over Asanoyama.
Myogiryu – Takarafuji. Myogiryu gets both hands inside from the tachiai, and when Takarafuji tries to retreat to avoid being caught in a full moro-zashi, he’s able to follow, withstand the kotenage attempt, and drive him out.
Since the rest of the torikumi involves rikishi from the joi-jin (the upper 16), I’m going to leave that to Herouth to cover.
Act two is in the record books, and the yusho race is down to three credible contenders. Entering into the final 3 days, the Ozeki and Yokozuna will face each other daily, and the level of competition will ratchet higher. It’s still possible that Aki will be won with an unbeaten 15-0 record, which would be a great mark to achieve during a year of tournaments plagued by injuries and absent rikishi.
Ishiura defeats Ryuden – With no room for another loss, and his position in the top division at stake, Ishiura finds his sumo. Today’s match was some of his best, and one has to wonder where this has been for the past year.
Yoshikaze defeats Nishikigi – I swear, you can see Nishikigi get nervous as Yoshikaze pulls him to his chest, and Nishikigi realizes he is in contact with the Yoshikaze mystery rash. You know, if its all over your torso anyhow, why not use it to help win? Dekimono-kiri anyone? In better news, it does look like the rash is clearing up.
Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi starts strong, but Takanosho rallies after he lands a nodowa. With his neck pinned back and his body too high, Sadanoumi can offer little defense as Takanosho drives forward and wins.
Kotoyuki defeats Kyokutaisei – Much to my surprise, Kotoyuki looked strong and forceful today, and did not go sailing into the zabuton. Instead he won over Kyokutaisei, who may have compounded his right knee injury.
Takanoiwa defeats Tochiozan – Takanoiwa reaches kachi-koshi on day 10, cementing his return to the top division after almost a year recovering from injury and battling his way back up the banzuke. Kimarite is listed as sotogake, for that leg trip he applied to Tochiozan at the tawara.
Kagayaki defeats Aoiyama – Kagayaki’s first ever win over the Bulgarian meat mountain. Clearly Aoiyama desperately needs some recovery time, and is now make-koshi.
Onosho defeats Daishomaru – A quick but effective hatakikomi, notable in that it’s only Onosho’s 3rd win of the tournament.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Myogiryu’s speed and intensity prevents Kotoshogiku from setting up any offensive sumo.
Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – After a blazing 7-0 start, Hokutofuji seems to have hit a wall, and is now on a three-match losing streak. Hokutofuji invested too much time trying to get his nodowa to pay off, all the while Asanoyama was moving forward and maneuvering Hokutofuji’s body into an increasingly perilous position.
Chiyonokuni defeats Shohozan – It was a given that these two would show a lot of action, and it did not disappoint. Repeatedly charging each other, it was more a game of bumper cars at first. The match ended before there could be any bloodshed when Shohozan lost his footing and stepped outside the bales.
Takarafuji defeats Abi – Takarafuji shows us how its done. He patiently absorbs Abi’s double arm thrusts, carefully deflecting part of each thrust and circling a step to his left each time. Forced to constantly adjust his stance, Abi’s rhythm is disrupted. Takarafuji reads this with great skill, finds an opening, and drives Abi out. Great tactics from Takarafuji today.
Shodai defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu picks up his make-koshi. The NHK team did not necessarily concur with the gyoji’s indication that Shodai had won the match, but none of the judges asked to review the gunbai.
Tamawashi defeats Ikioi – Both rikishi fought with a lot of power, with Tamawashi finishing the match with a burst of strength that lifted and threw Ikioi from the dohyo. That was big!
Takakeisho defeats Yutakayama – Solid Takakeisho style oshi-zumo today, Yutakayama was powerless to mount any kind of useful defense. Why did he come back from kyujo again?
Tochinoshin defeats Kaisei – Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin sores a much needed win against Kaisei, keeping the chances of him clearing kadoban plausible. The two were chest to chest from the start, and both men were trying to outmuscle the other. Both were able to lift each other, but struggled to do more than stand in the center of the dohyo, keeping their opponent at bay. Kaisei tired first, and Tochinoshin lifted him enough to carry him out. Tochinoshin’s magic number is now 2.
Takayasu defeats Goeido – The two Ozeki surprisingly decided to go chest to chest and fight it out yotsu-style. This seems to have been a smart move for Takayasu, as Goeido’s mobility did not factor into the match, and Takayasu was able to contain and control his fellow Ozeki. For fans of unusual winning moves, we got to see Takayasu apply a kainahineri, or a two handed twist down. This leaves Takayasu as the sole rikishi one loss behind the Yokozuna.
Kisenosato defeats Endo – As expected, Kisenosato picks up his kachi-koshi and completes his return to active sumo competition. A series of matta marred the match, and when they finally launched on the fourth attempt, Kisenosato charged forward ahead and took Endo out quickly. With win number 8, the pressure on Kisenosato subsides a bit. He can remain an active, competing Yokozuna, and work to improve his performance at Kyushu. The sumo world breathes a sigh of welcome relief.
Hakuho defeats Ichinojo – Glad to see Ichinojo actually put in an effort today. He had Hakuho working to keep the giant contained, and several times Ichinojo was able to generate good forward pressure. However, Hakuho remains undefeated and tied for the lead.
Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Points to Mitakeumi for a strong tachiai and backing the Yokozuna to the tawara, but Kakuryu rallies and hands Mitakeumi his 4th defeat. This likely puts his Ozeki bid on hold until Kyushu unless he can find a way to overcome both Kisenosato and Takayasu. Frankly, Mitakeumi is not looking genki enough to pull that one off, as stamina is starting to play a role in everyone’s sumo.
The basho is rushing towards the close of act two, and the damaged are being sorted from the survivors. Nowhere was that more clear than the final match of the day which saw Kisenosato and Tochinoshin battle for a single white star that only one of them could claim.
From now to Senshuraku on Sunday, we will see the highest ranking rikishi battle daily, while the lower ranks face increasingly unusual pairings. Many rikishi will have double digit losses this tournament – the fully-staffed upper ranks guarantee it. So don’t worry if one of your favorites is doing poorly; they will have another chance at glory in November.
Okinoumi defeats Yoshikaze – Points to Okinoumi for defeating Yoshikaze without actually touching his rash covered torso. It was painfully obvious that Okinoumi wanted no contact with Yoshikaze’s mystery rash.
Takanoiwa defeats Kyokutaisei – I always wonder why these guys come back from kyujo. They were busted up enough to seek medical treatment, and it’s clear they don’t have the mojo to compete. Kyokutaisei is make-koshi, and I am sure he is going to try and pick up enough wins to keep himself in the top division.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki put up a solid fight today, but ends the match with his obligatory crowd-surfing run, which ends with him cuddling Daieisho. Kotoyuki’s sumo is not quite together enough for Makuuchi this basho, so it will be a long shot for him to stay in the top division for Kyushu.
Daieisho defeats Ishiura – Also on the express Juryo return voyage is Ishiura, who has not been able to win in spite of putting his back into his sumo. The man has talent, and is clearly driven to excel, but something is missing (besides a kachi-koshi).
Ryuden defeats Shohozan – Ryuden masterfully shuts down Shohozan’s mobility advantage, and traps him in a painful embrace. Unable to clear the hold and unleash his barrage of blows against Ryuden, Shohozan struggles to free his arms, as Ryuden makes him dance to his tune. Every time he nearly breaks free, Ryuden locks him up once more. Actually a fantastic display of a specific, narrow strategy executed with grim determination to great effect. Ryuden scores his 8th win, and looks to be on track for double digits.
Takarafuji defeats Onosho – I am fairly certain that after the basho we may learn that Onosho’s knee is going to require further work. He simply cannot generate much forward pressure right now, and Takarafuji contains him and drives him from the ring. It’s important that Onosho get this thing healed up and working, as he has a lot of great sumo coming his way over the next few years.
Kagayaki defeats Hokutofuji – A bit of a surprise as Hokutofuji’s hot streak turns cold. It’s true that Kagayaki executed well, Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai / nodowa did not last more than a moment, and Kagayaki successfully landed a right hand inside, with his left setting up the arm-bar. From there he rotated and rolled into the kotenage for the win.
Kotoshogiku defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama foolishly goes chest to chest with the Kyushu Bulldozer and gets left in the ditch. The crowd loves to see him do it, and Asanoyama should have known better.
Abi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan could not pierce Abi’s “wall of tsuppari” to produce any meaningful offense. Abi advances to 6-3.
Shodai defeats Myogiryu – Back to weak tachiai from Shodai, but he is able to execute the kotenage while traveling in reverse. Myogiryu had higher intensity, but Shodai remained calm and executed.
Yutakayama defeats Chiyotairyu – Yutakayama finally picks up his first win, after returning from kyujo. Chiyotairyu delivered his typical thunderous tachiai, but ceded the inside thrusting position to Yutakayama who used it to dominate Chiyotairyu and control the match.
Kaisei defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost this one at the tachiai, as he was beaten off the shikiri-sen by slow moving Kaisei. From there he was always reacting and could not quite generate any offense. This is Tamawashi’s 8th loss and he is now make-koshi and will almost certainly be out of the Komusubi spot next basho.
Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Ichinojo decides to execute some sumo today, and easily tosses Ikioi aside for the win. Ikioi won the tachiai and pushed Ichinojo to the tawara. But rather than surrendering today, Ichinojo rallied and won. Ikioi’s win over Mitakeumi seems even more bizarre and worrying in this context.
Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni had command of the early portion of this match. He set the tone and tempo, and Takayasu was forced to follow. But yet again Chiyonokuni found himself stepping a foot out of the ring and losing. Somehow his typically good ring sense is gone, and his feet are costing him dearly needed wins. The disappointment on his face following the match betrays his frustration.
Goeido defeats Takakeisho – Excellent work today from Goeido. He endured a flurry of blows to get inside of Takakeisho, who could only get one wave of attack in before Goeido applied pressure center-mass and advanced. I declare Goeido 2.2 to be one of the better upgrades in a while.
Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was entertaining because it featured a number of odd elements, including a lengthy pause in the middle with Hakuho nearly upright. In fact, he glanced across Mitakeumi’s back, taking stock of Mitakeumi’s body and leg position. Feigning a leg trip, Hakuho tap’s Mitakeumi’s calf, and breaks the deadlock, to Hakuho’s waiting attack. Ladies and Gentlemen, example 32 of dai-Yokozuna sumo. Mitakeumi’s Ozeki bid is close to failure now, it seems.
Kakuryu defeats Endo – Endo’s make-koshi bout was another example of Endo going through the motions in spite of some undisclosed injury that has left him in no condition to fight as a Maegashira 3.
Kisenosato defeats Tochinoshin – What I like to call a “Darwin” match, only one was going to survive, even though fans wanted them both to win. Kisenosato is now all but assured of a kachi-koshi as he faces Endo on day 10, and Tochinoshin is now in deep trouble in an attempt to clear kadoban. The big Georgian struggled to generate forward pressure, in spite of getting a favorable grip. Kisenosato was too high for most of the match, and it was alarming that Tochinoshin’s multiple attempts to throw the Yokozuna failed. Tochinoshin needs to find 3 more wins to reach safety.
The mischievous spirits of the fall tournament came to visit nakabi, the middle day of the tournament. Their children – chaos, surprise and disorder – were supposed to sit in the stands, but instead went to play on the dohyo. Today was a day of the odd and the unexpected. Many rikishi tasted a surprising defeat, and some long-struggling rikishi claimed a shocking win.
Hakuho racked up his 800th win as a Yokozuna. The man is running out of records to break. There is a committee somewhere in the bowels of the Sumo Association working on inventing new ones for him to strive for. Seriously, the man is the Michael Jordan of sumo.
Aminishiki defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki buys Aminishiki’s somewhat relaxed henka, and Uncle Sumo grabs Kotoyuki by the neck and leads him around like a prized calf, finishing him with a tokkurinage, a two-handed head twist down. Note this is the first time tokkurinage has been used in Makuuchi [since 1953 –PinkMawashi].
Takanoiwa defeats Takanosho – Newcomer Takanosho surprised Takanoiwa with a strong attack out of the tachiai. But he failed to block Takanoiwa’s left hand outside grip, and Takanoiwa took control, winning the match. Takanoiwa’s return to Makuuchi looks secure for now. Good to see him in proper fighting form.
Ishiura defeats Okinoumi – Ishiura wins, without using a henka!
Yoshikaze defeats Sadanoumi – After a pair of matta, Yoshikaze engages in some fine denshamichi-sumo, advancing strongly out of the tachiai and never letting up. Yoshikaze up to 6 wins, but seems to be fading a bit. Hopefully he has enough genki left for 2 more wins.
Aoiyama defeats Nishikigi – Aoiyama stays on his feet today, and begins the match with his favored oshi-zumo. Nishikigi manages to break contact, recovers and takes the fight to Aoiyama, who quickly lands a double inside grip and throws Nishikigi. A much needed win for Aoiyama, who was limping after the match. It’s clear that heavily bandaged left knee is causing him problems.
Ryuden defeats Hokutofuji – Ryuden hands Hokutofuji his first loss of the basho. Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” ended up too high, and Ryuden was able to work underneath Hokutofuji’s high hand placement, forcing Hokutofuji back. From there Hokutofuji was on defense, and Ryuden moved to a double inside grip and advanced to the bales. That was what it took, and Hokutofuji never recovered.
Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Onosho goes chest to chest with Kotoshigiku at the tachiai, which its written on the safety card you are never supposed to do. I will say that it’s quite likely Onosho has complicated the recovery from his knee injury, and will need to take some time after the basho to get his undercarriage back to working order. Onosho was clearly frustrated following this loss.
Myogiryu defeats Tochiozan – Myogiryu got inside early and focused on center mass. Finding himself without options, Tochiozan attempted a pull-down, and released forward pressure. This was all it took for Myogiryu to prevail. The basics of oshi-zumo are simple, yet oh so challenging. Get inside your opponent’s defense. Focus your blows center-mass, and no matter how hard you are getting hit, keep them centered against your body and keep your hips and feet moving forward.
Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – Hapless Takarafuji has nothing this basho, and Asanoyama seems to enjoy the struggle he provides much the same way an angler enjoys the battle with his supper. Asanoyama advances to 6-2 in spite of Takarafuji’s double inside grip.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyonokuni – Looks like both rikishi thought it should have been a matta, but with none called, the fight was on. Furthermore it’s pretty clear that Kagayaki landed first. Not one of the better examples of officiating this basho. [Grumpy sumo fan noises. –PinkMawashi]
Shohozan defeats Abi – Abi gets high in the tachiai, and begins his double arm thrusts to Shohozan’s upper body. Shohozan was free to attack underneath, and he responded strongly, knocking Abi off balance, and moved him backward. Never one to ease up, Shohozan continued to advance and Abi collapsed under the attack.
Chiyotairyu defeats Endo – Seriously, Endo seems to be completely wrecked right now. It’s a shame to watch him fight each day with so little power and so little forward pressure. Clearly his support team needs to Shanghai him to the nearest sports medicine clinic and keep him there for a couple of weeks. At least Chiyotairyu got to rack up another win.
Takakeisho defeats Kaisei – I do love how Takakeisho is not even slightly intimidated by the giant Kaisei. He launches full bore into the tachiai, and bounces off. Completely unworried and un-phased, the attacks. This reminds me of my cat, who no matter how badly he falls off the top of the book case, carries on as if it was all going according to plan. Takakeisho keeps up the attack, but his “wave action” is working perfectly to keep Kaisei away form his mawashi. During one wave, Takakeisho catches Kaisei too far forward, and he thrusts him down. Outstanding tactics from Takakeisho.
Ikioi defeats Mitakeumi – Ikioi, who has no wins this basho, who has never won against Mitakeumi, probably shreds Mitakeumi’s attempt to reach Ozeki. It was a pure battle of oshi-power, and Ikioi was generating more forward pressure than I have seen him use all basho. Mitakeumi was completely disrupted and couldn’t formulate or execute any response. If a winless Ikioi can spank you in under 10 seconds, your Ozeki bid needs some rework.
Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Goeido “The Executioner” puts the iron to Tochinoshin’s struggle to clear kadoban. Any time Goeido gets to dictate the terms of a match, everything happens in fast forward. Goeido blasts out of the tachiai, gets a left hand outside grip, and never slows down. In the blink of an eye, Tochinoshin realizes he’s doomed and tries for some kind of pull at the bales, but he’s already out.
Shodai defeats Takayasu – This is the challenge with Shodai, like some kind of cartoon character, he can be this big squishy marshmallow man who loses all the time. Then, without warning, he transforms back into megazord Shodai and can dismantle anyone on the dohyo. First off, Shodai’s tachiai actually was lower and maybe a bit stronger than Takayasu’s. Takayasu had him in a nodowa, but decided to pull – Shodai was clearly ready for this, and took advantage of the Ozeki shifting his weight to his back foot. Shodai advanced, and drove his arms inside. Takayasu now gets worried, focuses on blocking Shodai’s grip, and loses focus on his balance. Shodai does not let this go, and drives Takayasu to the clay.
Kakuryu defeats Ichinojo – Kakuryu took his time, Ichinojo gave up at the bales. Ichinojo’s fighting spirit needs a refill. Kachi-koshi for Kakuryu.
Tamawashi defeats Kisenosato – adding further fuel to my “Kisenosato’s out of genki” concept, Tamawashi gets his first win of the basho against a flagging Yokozuna. From the tachiai, Tamawashi landed both hands on Kisenosato’s shoulders, and his legs never stopped driving. Kisenosato did not have the energy to stop him, to set up a defense or even really slow down the loss. Tamawashi’s nodowa out of the tachiai was instrumental in raising Kisenosato high enough that the forward pressure was maximally effective. Outstanding sumo from Tamawashi today.
Hakuho defeats Yutakayama – 800th win for the dai-Yokozuna! In true Hakuho form, it was over in the blink of an eye. The returning Yutakayama only had a split second to imagine himself giving Hakuho a vigorous fight, and he was sliding face first across the clay. Kachi-koshi for Hakuho.
Welcome to Nakabi! It’s the middle day of the Aki basho, and it’s been a welcome throwback to the sumo of two years ago, with the great and the strong stomping through the torikumi, leveling devastation on the records of the upper Maegashira, and everyone wondering where this level of excitement has been for the last year. While we all hope that this is a harbinger of a return to full tournaments full of healthy and combative Ozeki and Yokozuna, it may be more of a brief respite from the slow fade into the next generation of leading athletes.
Much to our surprise, Yutakayama has returned to the basho, and as a welcome-back gift, the scheduling crew has assigned him to face Hakuho for day 8. Depending on how severe his elbow injury was, it may get much worse in any fight against The Boss.
As is customary, on day 8 we begin to watch the yusho race. There are an impressive four rikishi who remain undefeated, and another four with only one loss. For the next several days, we will see the team that creates the torikumi (the match schedule) work to pare down this list to just a handful of competitors during the final act of the basho. At the moment, all three Yokozuna, two of the Ozeki and three lower ranked rikishi are all in the running. This can only mean one thing – some powerful sumo in the days ahead.
Kotoyuki vs Aminishiki – Uncle Sumo returns to Makuuchi to fill the imbalance in the banzuke, and he faces the struggling Kotoyuki. I note with some disappointment that Kotoyuki seems to have returned to his habit of taking a dive into the crowd and staying there for prolonged periods of time. They are evenly matched at 4-4. If Aminishiki keeps up his pace, he is a good bet for a record setting return to Makuuchi.
Sadanoumi vs Yoshikaze – After a blistering 5-0 start to Aki, Yoshikaze has dropped two bouts in a row, neither of which were against overwhelming opponents. His fans (myself included) hope this is not a reversion to whatever injury or malady caused him to lose day after day in Nagoya.
Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – I would expect Aoiyama to club the smaller Nishikigi into oblivion with his massive arms. But each match during Aki has been an exercise in seeing what way Aoiyama would stumble, fall or tumble for a loss. It’s a good bet he has trouble with one or both legs, and is trying to make it through the tournament any way he can.
Hokutofuji vs Ryuden – An interesting match as it pairs a 1-loss rikishi in Ryuden with an undefeated rikishi in Hokutofuji. Given that Hokutofuji is 4 ranks higher in the banzuke, this is Ryuden’s invitation to drop off the leaderboard, but Ryuden holds a 2-1 career advantage. If Hokutofuji wins, he gets an early kachi-koshi.
Kotoshogiku vs Onosho – Also in the “likely hurt” category is Onosho. His oshi style of sumo will be a bit of extra work for Kotoshogiku, but I suspect that Onosho may be too banged up to keep the Kyushu Bulldozer from belly bumping him out of the ring.
Takarafuji vs Asanoyama – First ever match between the two, Asanoyama has been executing some top-rate sumo for Aki, while Takarafuji has been struggling. I will guess that Asanoyama holds a slight edge, and will likely take a lot of punishment during the first moments of the match, then surge with an attempt to disrupt and defeat Takarafuji. Hopefully we will see some good strategic sumo.
Shohozan vs Abi – As strategic as the prior match might be, this will be pure, raw, high-energy chaos. Both rikishi love a wild fight with arms, legs and anything else flailing about in a vortex of sumo combat. Abi holds a 3-1 advantage over “Big Guns”, and for reasons I can’t explain, Abi-zumo still seems to be working.
Endo vs Chiyotairyu – Also in the “too hurt to fight credibly” bin, we find dear old Endo. You’re not fooling anyone, especially Chiyotairyu who has the kinetic energy to launch you back into the shitaku-beya from the tachiai.
Kaisei vs Takakeisho – Another fine puzzle for Takakeisho, the man who seems to approach each challenge with an undaunted mental state where he is convinced today is the day he can do anything. He has never beaten Kaisei. It remains to be seen if he can beat Kaisei. Kaisei usually comes to the match having had some food that day, because otherwise he might be tempted to squash and eat Takakeisho. But we know Takakeisho is going to step on the dohyo and blaze away. Maybe today IS his day.
Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – A gimme for Mitakeumi? Ikioi has never beaten him, and has ZERO wins at Aki. A loss today for Ikioi, and he is make-koshi. Who else thinks Ikioi and Endo should go home now and see the doctor Monday morning? Ah well, that’s not the sumo way. Thus far Mitakeumi continues to chart a steady course towards his Ozeki goal, but he has to make it through the remaining Yokozuna and Ozeki ranks first.
Goeido vs Tochinoshin – It’s a bit early for the Ozeki wars to start, but we are excited for this match. Tochinoshin is in dire need of 3 wins, but right now the upgraded Goeido 2.2 seems to be fighting about as well as you could ever want. Tochinoshin will want to slow the match down and use his amazing strength. Goeido will want to create a blaze of chaos at the tachiai to keep Tochinoshin guessing what to do next while Goeido disrupts his sumo and blows him out of the ring. Match history of 15-10 favoring Goeido means only one thing – each of them as a battle plan.
Shodai vs Takayasu – Is today the day that Shodai rallies and takes down a much higher ranked opponent? No, sadly I am pretty sure it won’t be. Whatever Takayasu’s injuries were at the start of Aki, he has put them aside and is dominating every match. A day 8 kachi-koshi would be a wonderful mark, and this match is a good opportunity to do just that.
Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – I am fairly sure Ichinojo will be vacating his Sekiwake slot for Kyushu unless he rallies and uses that enormous body of his for something. Right now I am sure he is trying to get his old job as a piling in the Yokohama sea wall back, just in case. What will Kakuryu do to him day 8? I am pretty sure the Yokozuna will win, but won’t risk injury to Ichinojo.
Kisenosato vs Tamawashi – I think we are going to see Kisenosato struggle and possibly lose this match. I say this because he seems to be running short of the overwhelming strength in the early match that is a hallmark of his wins. Tamawashi is no easy challenger, and if he can get Kisenosato moving in response to his oshi-attacks, the Yokozuna will be in deep trouble. A genki Kisenosato has a very heavy stance, and moves like a mountain on parade. He showed some of that earlier in the basho, but he has gotten lighter each day. We are all pulling for him to hit at least 8.
Yutakayama vs Hakuho – Welcome back from kyujo, Yutakayama! We would like you to be shot from a cannon into the Sumida river, but the cannon is out for maintenance. So you get to fight Hakuho instead. A win today would be his 800th as a Yokozuna. I have heard a rumor that they are going to invent new records just so he can put his name on them, such as most harite during a tachiai.