Update: Takagenji’s Role in Bullying Scandal

Takagenji
(photo courtesy Nicola @NicolaAnn08)

When the Aki Jungyo hits the road this weekend in Ishikawa, Takagenji will be a welcome part of it but his brother, Takanofuji (formerly Takayoshitoshi) will be left behind in Tokyo. Takagenji’s involvement in the scandal has so far been limited to allegations of instituting collective punishments, name-calling, and forcing one tsukebito to call himself stupid while recording it on cellphone video.

As he has yet to be accused directly of assault or more serious bullying, and expressed regret for his past misdeeds, he has escaped suspension. He stated that moving forward, he is not starting back from zero but “from minus.” He also distanced himself from his brother, stating that while they came from the same upbringing, they have different ways of thinking. When Takanofuji had his press conference, Takagenji stated that he tried to convince him to cancel, to no avail.

Takagenji will be demoted into Juryo after this latest tournament but should consider himself lucky as he sees his brother drummed out of the heya life, entirely. Since the scandal broke just before the tournament started, it surely impacted his performance so one hopes that he has learned his lesson, can redeem himself in the eyes of his stablemates, and can recover.

To summarize coverage on his twin brother, Takanofuji:

Aki Day 15 Highlights

It was a tadpole playoff for the cup, and you know I was overjoyed. Well done to all competitors who made the final weekend of the basho one to remember. Congratulations Mitakeumi on his second yusho!

Thus ends Aki 2019, which many fans (myself included) will consider a departure from what we have come to accept as normal. As the team at Tachiai have written in the past, in absence of strong ur-Rikihsi such as Hakuho in a basho, new heroes shall rise. If nothing else, the past 18 months in sumo has taught us that. Today we saw the second yusho for Mitakeumi. As with his prior yusho, he is on the path toward Ozeki again, and maybe this time he can finish the evolution. The departure of the “old guard” is accelerating now, and the field is being swept clean for a new order that will bring with it new rivalries, new defeats and new triumphs. It’s a great time to be a sumo fan.

It will come to no surprise to the readers of Tachiai that out of the new leaders, we find Asanoyama, Yutakayama, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi. These are rikishi we have been watching evolve, coming into the power band where youth, strength, stamina, skill and sheer determination create legends. But don’t expect the fading kings of sumo to go out without a fight. In fact I had expected this basho to be the one where Kakuryu and Hakuho were both genki and brutally beat the new generation at every turn. But perhaps the fade is harder and faster than I assumed, or maybe my timing is off.

Tachiai congratulates Mitakeumi on his second yusho, it was masterfully done, and your sumo continues to energize.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Takagenji – Aannnnnd HENKA! (Like Hollywood, sumo seems addicted to crummy sequels)

Kagayaki defeats Azumaryu – Kagayaki stayed as low as he could, and stayed focused on center mass. Kagayaki really has not had his sumo “together” this basho, so I am wondering if he’s got some kind of injury that is disrupting his normally excellent form. The Azumaryu nostalgia effect is gone, and I think he’s going to be a candidate rebuild in Juryo.

Yutakayama defeats Shohozan – Yutakayama wins a yotsu match! Sort of an unusual form for these two to take, but I loved it. Check out Yutakayama’s footwork! He was employing almost a gaburi-yori attack there.

Onosho defeats Tsurugisho – I love the Onosho story for this basho. He came in still hurting from his surgery, his balance was poor, his sumo was disorganized. He put on his classic red mawashi that led us to label him on his first run up the banzuke “The Tadpole Red Menace”. After a fairly cold start, he closed with 6 straight wins to go 9-6. No knock against Tsurugisho, who opened 10-5 in his debut Makuuchi posting.

Enho defeats Sadanoumi – Enho tries, and eventually succeeds in getting a left hand inside grip, and uses that to run the table. What’s fun about Enho’s size is that he is small enough that his hips are about 4″ lower than Sadanoumi’s, so cocking the eventual shitatenage is rather simple mechanics for him. Enho will be mid-Maegashira for Kyushu, so some new opponents to test against, I can’t wait.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi tries for his favored arm-bar, but finds that the “death clench” works both ways. Terutsuyoshi grabs an arm and pulls him into a rarely seen sakatottari. Even if he is relegated back to Juryo, it’s wonderful to see Terutsuyoshi close out the basho with a great win and a great move.

Kotoshogiku defeats Tochiozan – Aannnnnd HENKA! Well, but it does not work, as Kotoshogiku is waiting for it. I don’t blame Tochiozan for trying it, he has to know he is facing demotion to Juryo, and would rather not end up there. And indicator of how hurt Tochiozan is would be how weak that henka attempt was.

Shimanoumi defeats Daishoho – Daishoho opened strong early, but Shimanoumi rallied and put him down. Both end with a miserable 5-10 recored for Aki.

Kotoyuki defeats Shodai – Shodai gets an opening to win a couple of times, but can’t make any of them pay out. Really sad to see him close out 3-12, but it was quite impressive sumo form Kotoyuki today, who threw everything he could at Shodai, and took the match.

Ishiura defeats Tamawashi – The first of our Darwin matches features a false start, as both want this one badly, and both suspect the other of a henka at the tachiai. Ishiura gets inside quickly, and robs Tamawashi of his mobility, and rapidly focus his pressure on his abdomen and advances. It’s over in a hurry, and Ishiura manages his kachi-koshi, and rescues himself from the growing log-jam of Juryo-qualified Maegashira.

Tomokaze defeats Chiyotairyu – I apologize dear readers, but am I ever tired of the reverse-gear sumo from Tomokaze. A win is a win, but it’s a shame to see so much talent and so much potential sidelined for this kind of sumo. Chiyotairyu ends with 2-13, the lowest finishing score for any man who fought day 15.

Daieisho defeats Kotoeko – Second Darwin match, and boy did these two really turn up the power. It’s a full hybrid battle-plan as they swap between yotsu and oshi at will. But Daieisho prevails and takes his 8th win. Fantastic sumo from both today.

Meisei defeats Asanoyama – Meisei surprises Asanoyama with his first ever win, and I can tell he put a lot of thought and prep into this match. Meisei when right hand inside at the tachai, and kept himself close to 90° to Asanoyama, not allowing Asanoyama to advance and push Meisei back. Of course Asanoyama pivots to correct that, and Meisei uses this rotational force to whip Asanoyama around and put him on the bales. As Asanoyama is focused on rescuing himself from that mistake, Meisei goes mae-mitzu, and goes in for the kill. Nice sumo Meisei!

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama fires up the big V-Twin power today, but he is lacking the forward pressure from his lower body to make it work. Ryuden figures this out and steps to the side, grabs an arm and pulls Aoiyama to the clay. Tough basho for Big Dan the man-mountain. I hope he can get his health back soon.

Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Here it was again, it’s as if Hokutofuji’s lower body is working on its own. After grappling at the tachiai, Takarafuji actually defeats the upper body of Hokutofuji. But Hokutofuji’s lower body is not conceding a thing, and keeps him in the fight, off-balance with arms spread at the tawara. Takarafuji assumes that’s the end, but that lower body is still fighting, turns more or less on it’s own to square Hokutofuji’s hips against Takarafuji and drives. A moment later the upper body catches up and puts both hands on Takarafuji’s chest. Odd but amazing sumo from Hokutofuji today. He won the last 8 matches in a row.

Myogiryu defeats Abi – First match was inconclusive as they touched down / out together, and a torinaoshi was called. The second match, Abi tried to pull as Myogiryu went inside and pushed, giving the match to Myogiryu. Congrats to Myogiryu for coming back from kyujo and picking up 8.

Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – Takakeisho goes for the armpits at the tachiai and never gives up the hold. Sort of a different attack style from the “wave action” one might expect, but it got the job done smartly.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Endo tried for a left hand inside grip at the tachiai, but quickly discovered this was a denshamichi match, Mitakeumi was in Shinkansen mode. The Tadpole playoff is a go!

Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Goeido gets a excellent left hand outside grip and exploits Tochinoshin’s knee-less left leg with great effect. Tochinoshin has no power to stop the spin and push into the west side zabuton. I am really worried that Tochinoshin has nothing left in that knee, and we may not be seeing a graceful decline like we saw with Kotoshogiku.

THE PLAYOFF – Takakeisho’s propensity to push then pull at the tachiai has become easy to predict. Clearly Mitakeumi did, and figured if Takakeisho was going to give up forward pressure, he could take a trip to the tawara. Takakeisho realizes his opening gambit failed spectacularly, and tries to hold back Mitakeumi at the edge. But Mitakeumi lowers his hips and pushes, and wins.

Thank you dear readers for sharing your Aki Basho with us. We have had an absolute blast covering this tournament for the past two weeks. Be sure to stay with us as we cover the weeks leading up to the next tournament, November’s Kyushu basho.

Aki Day 15: Senshuraku Preview

Aki Post Banner

Welcome to the final day of this year’s Aki basho, the Autumn Grand Sumo tournament.

I will be returning to Kokugikan for the final day’s matches, and will look forward to sharing my thoughts on the experience on these pages and upcoming podcast(s). Thanks to everyone for joining us for this wild and unpredictable tournament.

We enter the final day with no fewer than three rikishi still very much in contention for the Emperor’s Cup (and the macaron, and that enormous trophy that the USA created, and beer and gasoline and lots of other prizes besides).

Aki Leaderboard

Leaders: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Okinoumi

What We Are Watching Day 15

Takagenji vs Chiyoshoma – Neither of these guys have looked fit for their rank over the past two weeks and will probably be grateful to see the back of this tournament. Both men are makekoshi, and in the case of Takagenji, heavily so. Takagenji needs a win only to cushion his fall into Juryo. There’s not a lot in this.

Kagayaki vs Azumaryu – Another makekoshi pair, Azumaryu probably needs a win here to confirm his spot in the division next time out. Neither showed much to dream on in this basho. This is their first meeting for three years, with the head to head rivalry being even at three apiece.

Shohozan vs Yutakayama – I think Yutakayama has performed much the better of these two over the tournament, in spite of their equal 9-5 records. Both can be happy with that return, though I think Shohozan has just about scratched out some of his wins to get there. This will be an oshi-zumo match, and I think Yutakayama’s pushing attack is the more dominant of the two at the moment, despite his flaws. I’ll tip him to upset the form guide and get his first win over the veteran at the third time of asking.

Onosho vs Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho really deserves our applause after keeping himself in the yusho race until Day 14. Onosho has really grown into the tournament and while he looks some way short of the strength he has displayed in the past, it looks clear that his fiery red mawashi has brought some of his sumo back. I don’t think Tsurugisho was expecting to be in the yusho race but it will be interesting to see how his elimination will affect him. Onosho has won 5 from 8, has the stronger thrusting attack, and I think he’ll finish strongly and win this.

Sadanoumi vs Enho – Enho will be relieved to get his kachi-koshi after a thoroughly entertaining tournament in which he has fully captured the imagination of the public. Sadanoumi’s mobility is still a bit hobbled and I can see Enho targeting the much taller man’s bad leg for a possible leg pick or tripping move. Losing this match wouldn’t be the worst thing for Enho as a succession of 8-7s is probably best for him to acclimate to the higher levels of competition anyway. But I think he’ll win it and finish strongly.

Terutsuyoshi vs Nishikigi – The manner of Terutsuyoshi’s defeat on Day 14 was actually more worrying for me than any of his prior defeats, in so much as he had the match won several times over and couldn’t actually finish it. Unfortunately for him, Nishikigi, while make-koshi, brings a lot more to the party than Takagenji. If Terutsuyoshi is unable to commit any power moving forward with his thrusting attack, Nishikigi should simply be able to wrap him up and contain him.

Kotoshogiku vs Tochiozan – It’s the 40th meeting of these two beloved veterans, and it brings a chance for the former ozeki to level the scores at 20 apiece. That shows just how even this matchup has been. I don’t think the Kyushu Bulldozer has been as bad as his 5-9 record suggests, but he has faltered in the second week and will be happy to welcome the next tournament on home soil. Tochiozan probably needs a win here to keep himself in the division – although as lksumo has noted there aren’t too many folks from Juryo banging down the door. I think this match all comes down to whether Kotoshogiku can set the “hug and chug” and execute his gaburi-yori. Look for Tochiozan to accept the grip but then attempt a throw to toss him aside.

Shimanoumi vs Daishoho

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?

Daishoho leads the lifetime series.

Kotoyuki vs Shodai – Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Kotoyuki – yes that Kotoyuki, the one who rolls around and goes flying off the dohyo and into people’s bento boxes in the fifth row of the masu seats – is a former sekiwake. He’s gone a long way to making us remember in the last couple of tournaments. His pushing and thrusting attack has largely been good this basho, and he’s coming up against an opponent who will probably let him execute it given Shodai’s lack of tachiai. Shodai may have found some kind of inspiration with his much needed Day 14 win, but I’d imagine Kotoyuki will be gunning hard to finish strong and find his way as far up the banzuke as he can.

Tamawashi vs Ishiura – Finally, ten matches into the day’s events we find our first “Darwin” matchup of a pair of 7-7 rikishi. Tamawashi is probably in slightly the better form although he did get manhandled on Day 14 by a resurgent Hokutofuji. This is where the banzuke will probably tell the story as Ishiura has been in and around the top division for quite a while now, but these two have never met as they’ve largely stayed at opposite ends. Assuming the Angel of Henka doesn’t try anything wacky, he’ll look to get in very low at the tachiai and get a frontal grip on Tamawashi’s mawashi. The Mongolian will just look to pummel him out, though whether and how exactly he raises up the much smaller man with his trademark nodowa is going to be an interesting tactical question. Advantage is very much with the decorated veteran, though I wouldn’t rule out a shock totally.

Chiyotairyu vs Tomokaze – This is another match where mental strength will be as important as anything technical, as we get to see how Tomokaze reacts to his first ever make-koshi. Tomokaze fought with more heart that we have seen from him most of the basho on Day 14, but it was too little too late when coming up against a highly skilled opponent who was in the middle of a yusho challenge. Chiyotairyu has been more or less buried, and Tomokaze should seize the opportunity to minimise his demotion and keep himself among the high level competitors next time out – that is what will continue to improve him.

Daieisho vs Kotoeko – Our second and final “Darwin” match sees this pair go head to head. I’m running out of superlatives for Daieisho, and the way he has continued his remarkable comeback to .500 by executing his strong pushing and thrusting attack really deserves credit. If there’s any justice, he will get it here. Kotoeko has faced poorer opposition over the course of the tournament to end up in the same place, and if Daieisho can come out of the blocks strong and keep his centre of gravity low while aiming his thrusts upward to raise his opponent, he’s got a good chance of completing a magnificent comeback.

Meisei vs Asanoyama – I think this might be a challenge too far for Meisei, who has stumbled badly in the second week after an incredible start to the basho that saw him atop the leaderboard at points. Asanoyama will not win this tournament, but has again raised his stature with double digit wins in the joi, regardless of the volume of opposition. I don’t think this tournament will end up factoring into an ozeki run, but it will be curious if an 11th win here changes the calculus for the banzuke committee as has happened before. Meisei will do best to utilise a pushing and thrusting attack – of which he is very capable, but if Asanoyama gets on the mawashi then the gunbai will fall to him.

Ryuden vs Aoiyama – After losing his first six, Aoiyama’s done well to at least stabilise himself and minimise his fall down the banzuke in the next tournament. Ryuden was moving along at a decent clip until getting drawn in to face much higher level opposition in the last three days. Both are make-koshi, and having seen what the last few days have taken out of Ryuden, and with him facing an opponent who won’t be entertaining a mawashi battle, I have to slightly favour Big Dan. Aoiyama should not be throwing henkas especially in matches with nothing to lose, and he will have an opportunity to bust out his pushing attack in this match.

Hokutofuji vs Takarafuji – It’s a Fuji battle, which has gone 3 times from 5 prior meetings to the man from Aomori. Nonetheless, Hokutofuji has stormed back with seven consecutive wins and his opponent has faded in the last couple of days in which he has shown weakness against a strong pushing attack (Abi). So I’m going to tip Hokutofuji to continue his incredible final weekend form and finish strong.

Abi vs Myogiryu – In normal circumstances, Abi would be facing Takakeisho and Myogiryu would probably have had a “Darwin” match against someone nearer his own rank on the final day. So that’s bad luck. Abi had some good fortune in week 1 but has followed it up with some impressive second week performances to grab his kachi-koshi and more besides. There’s nothing (apart from pride and kensho) at stake for him in this match, as he will end up K1E next tournament regardless of results here or elsewhere. Myogiryu has done admirably in adverse circumstances after his return from kyujo and his hope here will be to get inside and get a grip on Abi’s mawashi while his opponent is pummelling away at him. Myogiryu has the throwing ability to use the taller man’s momentum against him, especially given the high centre of gravity which Abi sustains through most matches. Whether he can actually execute that however, is another matter entirely.

Okinoumi vs Takakeisho – The first truly momentous bout of the day. The schedulers broke with precedent and brought up M8 Okinoumi to face Ozekiwake Takakeisho on Senshuraku and hopefully deliver the climax that this basho deserves. These two 11-3 rikishi facing off means that a 12th win is guaranteed to someone, and so all of the 10-4 chasers are thus eliminated. Okinoumi could do worse than reference some of the video of Goeido’s win over Takakeisho earlier in the week. He won’t be able to account for differences in the tachiai, but he can at least look to Goeido’s quick movement to get over the top to land a belt grip. I think Takakeisho will be too fast for him, however. Takakeisho’s pushing and thrusting attack to me has almost looked effortless in the second week, and it’s been astonishing to see how many matches he’s been able to win with three thrusts off the tachiai. Takekeisho is unquestionably the favourite here, though Okinoumi has beaten him once in four previous tries.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – There will be a lot of kensho on this one. Mitakeumi must win in order to force a playoff against the winner of the previous match. 8-6 Endo will be fighting for nothing apart from pride and money. This has been a closer rivalry than it might seem, Mitakeumi having won 5 out of 9. Endo is a hugely underrated technician and Mitakeumi will do well to keep this match away from the belt. While Endo does occasionally engage with and disarm oshi-zumo battles, the laconic pin-up is also prone to a quick blowout loss and so Mitakeumi will want this over with before Endo can find a way to execute a counter-attack.

Tochinoshin vs Goeido – It’s quite possible that this will be the last bout of Tochinoshin’s Ozeki career, and unfortunately it’s a match with little overall meaning. Fortunately, it may not be a down note that ends the basho in the likely event that there is, in fact, a playoff. This is the 28th matchup of these two Ozeki, with Goeido leading 17-10. It’s a match of “what if’s” for both men. Goeido, as the highest placed rikishi in the competition, could – and probably should – have won this basho. Tochinoshin needed some luck in this tournament to get the 8 wins needed to retain his rank, but none of the breaks have fallen his way. The neutral here might be rooting for the Georgian to give both something to cheer as well as some hope that he can make his second Ozekiwake campaign in November at least competitive and interesting.

Aki Day 14 Highlights

Probably one of the most consequential days of sumo I have seen in the last 10 years. Many questions were resolved, and many disappointments were realized. Firstly, we know that the yusho will be won with a 12-3 record. One of the three (or more) remaining leaders will have that score, and they will take home the hardware. To ensure that they only have one possible playoff match, Okinoumi will face Takakeisho. The chances are better than even that we will see a playoff between the winner of that match and Mitakeumi. This configuration is clouded with controversy, which we will cover below.

We also can now sadly realize that injured Ozeki Tochinoshin will lose his rank and occupy a Sekiwake position for November. He took his 8th loss not in a blaze of glory, but with a simple and frustrating mistake.

Elsewhere on the dohyo, it was henka-madness. I know there are legions of readers who are fine or even love the henka. I think it is normally a sign of weak sumo, and in the top division this kind of tactic should be seldom seen. Not today, as many rikishi in perilous positions resorted to the henka to try and save their record or keep in the hunt.

Last but not least, the gyoji and shimpan are once again a focus, and in crucial matches to boot. I think the NSK might need to think through how they want to handle sloppy calls and sloppy officiating, the fans do notice.

Highlight Matches

Wakatakakage defeats Ishiura – Ishiura had a whole bucket of nothing against the lead Onami brother, and his 7-7 record leaves him prime for a Darwin match. Enjoy.

Shohozan defeats Azumaryu – Shohozan opens strong, and Azumaryu finds himself in trouble, and moving in reverse. He tries a pull at the bales, but does not get Shohozan to drop before he himself steps out.

Onosho defeats Yutakayama – Onosho gets the inside position while Yutakayama goes for an armpit grip / attack. Onosho seems to not care, and is double-arm pushing against Yutakayama’s chest. Yutakayama is getting better thrusts, but Onosho is moves forward, absorbing the blows. Onosho kachi-koshi.

Enho defeats Tochiozan – Enho side steps to his left at the tachiai, disrupting any attack Tochiozan may have planned. Enho continues to try to drive inside and get to Tochiozan’s chest, and eventually finds his mark. Thought they fight for grip and hand placement for several seconds, Enho consolidates his position and drives Tochiozan out and to the clay. Enho kachi-koshi, and Tochiozan make-koshi. Another one for the barge to Juryo?

Takagenji defeats Terutsuyoshi – We finally get to see some strong sumo from Takagenji, and it’s against the injured and only partially functional Terutsuyoshi. Takagenji is headed back to the deeper ranks of Juryo, but I am glad he at least got to fight with vigor again today. If you want to see two rikishi battle it out with all they can muster, this is your match. Great effort by both men.

Kotoyuki defeats Tsurugisho – The fierce version of Kotoyuki was back again today, and his match today is a good study in body mechanics for oshi-zumo. Note how he focuses everything against the center of Tsurugisho’s chest, and drives forward with each blow. Tsurugisho has no time, and no means to respond. Kotoyuki kachi-koshi.

Kotoeko defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki got the better of the tachiai, and drove strongly forward. But Kotoeko deftly side-stepped at the tawara and send Kagayaki face first towards chikara-mizu bucket. Kotoeko improves to 7-7, another Darwin match candidate.

Sadanoumi defeats Shimanoumi – They stalemate at the tachiai, but Sadanoumi shifts and turns to get behind Shimanoumi and drive him out from behind. Experience and agility secure Sadanoumi his 8th win and a move up the banzuke for November.

Daishoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Annnnd. HENKA! You can see Chiyotairyu’s frustration at the end of this match, and you have to feel for the guy. He manages his big tachiai, but Daishoho is faster and inside before Chiyotairyu can impact, he moves to charge again and Daishoho steps to the side. Chiyotairyu now an alarming 2-12.

Shodai defeats Nishikigi – So, where has this version of Shodai been? That looked like real sumo, and even though Nishikigi beat him by a league at the tachiai, he kept his cool, wrapped up Nishikigi and kept moving forward. Nishikigi is now make-koshi.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Excellent tachiai from Meisei, getting him an inside position and the start of a left hand inside grip. But Daieisho rallied and launched a pushing attack that Meisei could not endure. A last minute attempt to side-step at the tawara failed, and the one time yusho leader took his 5th defeat.

Asanoyama defeats Tomokaze – Take a look at the tachiai in this match, it’s a great example of where Asanoyama is headed over the next few years, if he can stay healthy. You can see him a half-step faster than Tomokaze, who is caught hazardously far forward, with poor body position. What does Tomokaze do? Why try to pull Asanoyama down, of course. How’s that working out for you? Oh? Not at all? Well, good job, now you have Asanoyama at your chest, and your weight is still too far forward. As Asanoyama loads up the throw, Tomokaze amazingly thinks he can try another pull. The shift in weight unceremoniously drops him onto his back in front of the time keeper, earning him his first ever make-koshi. I think Tomokaze has a great future, but he needs to fight in a forward gear as his standard mechanic. Asanoyama is headed higher next year, his sumo mechanics are very good, and he keeps getting stronger.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Hokutofuji beats Tamawashi off the line, and gets his nodowa, raising Tamawashi up. Hokutofuji knows what’s coming and widens his stance as Tamawashi attacks in force. But that odd Hokutofuji upper / lower body action comes into play again, he starts moving forward almost independently of the force his upper body is enduring. But Hokutofuji finds his opening and attacks center-mass, and its more than Tamawashi can withstand. Great effort by Hokutofuji to get his 8th win and a come-from-behind kachi-koshi, winning 7 in a row, along with his kinboshi on day 1.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – Annnnd. HENKA!

Abi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji wants to set up some kind of sumo, but once Abi-zumo starts, most people’s plans go out the window and all you want to do is get the guy to knock it off. Sorry! It only stops when you hit the clay or go visit the fans in the front row. Abi improves to 9-5, and I must say he is surprising me by enduring in San’yaku.

Okinoumi defeats Endo – The rikishi executed a masterful bout, but the shimpan and the gyoji blew this one to hell. If Okinoumi should prevail and take the cup, what would be a marvelous cinderella story will be forever marred by this nonsense. Okinoumi got the better of the tachiai, and started driving Endo to the SouthWest corner, and Kimura is in the way, ok – this crap happens. The two lock up on the mawashi and are really fighting it out, again Kimura gets in the way in the SouthWest corner. Endo steps on the bales, and his fighting back with everything he has as Okinoumi goes for the yorikiri. The shimpan’s hand goes up, the gyoji points the gumbo to the east, but the contestants are fighting on. They both move for a throw, but what the hell is happening? Alright, Endo fell last, but according to the referee and the judges, the match was over long before. Replays showed Endo’s heel never getting close to the janome, and there was no mark. WHAT THE HELL. So, sure – call a monoii, review the tape and figure out what is what. Well, not going to work well because the gyoji sorta interfered with the rikishi after the shimpan’s hand went up. This one is screwed up beyond repair, so it looks like they just do the “yeah, we meant to do that” routine and move on. Even Okinoumi does not think he won. Horrific own-goal for the NSK.

Takakeisho defeats Ryuden – Any thoughts that the Grand Tadpole would throttle back were completely wrong, as we see Takakeisho deliver a blast wave out of the tachiai, the first time I think he has done that this basho. Ryuden is generating considerable forward pressure, and has his usual excellent foot placement, but is pushed back by the force of it. He never has a chance to recover or even try to mount any offense as Takakeisho picks up win 11, and punches his ticket to the yusho party. Ryuden is make-koshi, picking up his 8th loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Goeido – Annnnd. HENKA!

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – A heartbreaking match, as Tochinoshin secures his make-koshi and demotion to Ozekiwake for November. Sadly it did not come as a result of a flat-out, sacrifice everything battle, but rather an inadvertent step out by the Ozeki. The two were fighting strongly, with Myogiryu taking the initiative while Tochinoshin struggled to set up his grip. But as Tochinoshin consolidated his hold and shifted to attack, his foot slipped on the tawara and struck the janome, the match was over, and the gyoji stopped the fight. Sorry to see it end this way. Tochinoshin’s injuries are not something that can be addressed in the next few weeks before Kyushu, and I am not optimistic about his options at this point.