Aki Day 8 Preview

Welcome to Nakabi – the middle day of the basho. For folks with insomnia, or living in countries other than the US, NHK World Japan will be broadcasting the last 50 minutes of Makuuchi live. So do consider joining their stream if you have a chance, the coverage is always fantastic.

Where do we go from here? The leader in the yusho race, the undefeated Okinoumi, has yet to face any high ranking rikishi. But I would say for this basho, that might not be much of a threat depending on who he draws. Tachiai has been talking about the transition period longer than most sumo media (the Japanese sumo media included), but this is a tough basho all around. Sure there are some great competitors, but we really don’t have the “wall of sumo” at the top ranks that any rank-and-file yusho hopeful must overcome to lay hands on the cup. Maybe if we ask nicely and behave ourselves, lksumo might try to forecast who Okinoumi might have to face in week 2.

Such is the time we live in.

Aki Leaderboard

Leader: Okino-freaking-umi
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Meisei, Ishiura
Hunt Group: Goeido, Takakeisho, Abi, Endo, Asanoyama, Myogiryu, Enho, Tsurugisho

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Ishiura vs Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu is up from Juryo to face a surprisingly refreshed and refreshing Ishiura. I am keen to see what kind of strategy he uses against his big, round opponent.

Tsurugisho vs Tochiozan – First time meeting for these two, and I am going to give an edge to Tsurugisho whose sumo seems to be ascendant, where Tochiozan seems to be fading out.

Kagayaki vs Toyonoshima – Kagayaki has lost 2 in a row, and each time he has been forced to deviate from his typical “focus on the basics” style and react to his opponent’s sumo. If Toyonoshima can dictate the terms of the match, he has a chance.

Shohozan vs Takagenji – Takagenji may be a write-off for Aki, if for no other reason than his off-dohyo world is a huge distraction. I am going to predict that Shohozan will probably pick him off today.

Azumaryu vs Daishoho – Veteran Azumaryu has a 1-3 record against Daishoho. But Daishoho only got his first win yesterday, and is fighting very poorly. I hate to label this another “battle of the broken toys”, but that does cross my mind.

Nishikigi vs Enho – I think Enho is hungry to stay in the yusho hunt, and he’s is going to take advantage of Nishikigi’s relatively slow sumo to tie him up and drop him.

Yutakayama vs Kotoyuki – Will we get the “out for fun” Kotoyuki today, or the “I am going to make you eat my mawashi” one? The big question for Yutakayama at the mid-point of Aki is: how is that knee holding up?

Okinoumi vs Onosho – Ok, Okinoumi is undefeated, and they are continuing to bottom-feed him. I don’t blame either rikishi, but as an Onosho fan, I have to say that he’s not quite the “red menace” he has been in the past. How about Ryuden instead? Or Abi? Or even Endo? I guess that is reserved for next week.

Kotoshogiku vs Sadanoumi – Both are going to want to grapple on this match, and I think it will come down to belt or armpit hold. If Kotoshogiku can get the mawashi, we all know what comes next. So possibly Sadanoumi aims high. Kotoshogiku aims low.

Meisei vs Kotoeko – After a cold start, Kotoeko has won 3 of the last 4, and I think he will possibly take Meisei out of the pack that is one behind Okinoumi.

Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi are 2-5, both are in dire need of wins, and both have been struggling daily during September. Terutsuyoshi has a 4-2 advantage over Shimanoumi, but right now neither of them is fighting anywhere near their normal level of intensity.

Takarafuji vs Myogiryu – These two have an 18 bout career history, so I think the 13-5 lead that Myogiryu holds might be an indicator.

Daieisho vs Ryuden – I had thought going in that at Maegashira 5, Ryuden would be at a comfortable rank. But he has not been able to produce wins. Daieisho is not doing much better, but has intensity on his side.

Asanoyama vs Aoiyama – Can we please see more Aoiyama V-Twin thrusting attack again? It’s much more compelling than the pulling nonsense he has used most of Aki. Asanoyama is going to want to get that left hand outside grip at the tachiai again, and Aoiyama is going to try to give him a big meaty palm to the face.

Abi vs Hokutofuji – The matches between these two are pretty ugly. You have Hokutofuji wanting to go for the nodowa, and Abi doing the double-arm shoulder thrusts. The result is usually a traffic jam of hands and elbows that can get jumbled up. Abi is fighting better right now, but continues to put his balance further forward than is prudent at times.

Chiyotairyu vs Endo – Readers know that I am usually not a fan of henkas, but I am hoping Endo does the sumo world a favor and lets Chiyotairyu get a face full of salt and clay.

Mitakeumi vs Takakeisho – To me this is “the” bout today. With the yusho race some sort of circus, Tochinoshin looking at Ozeki doom, the real story line left to play out is can Takakeisho make his 10 and return to Ozeki. I think this match is possibly the decider in that run, and Takakeisho holds a 4-7 career deficit. A note to readers, we have still not seen the “wave action tsuppari” attack. Time to bring out the primary weapon, tadpole.

Tomokaze vs Goeido – First time meeting, and I would love to see Goeido continue his “3 seconds and your are finished” sumo form. Congrats to Tomokaze for his kinboshi and all that, but his sumo has been cheap and sloppy for most of the basho. I only point this out because we have seen his “good” form (Nagoya) and we know what he is capable of.

Tochinoshin vs Shodai – Is this the saddest match in all of day 8? Both are 2-5, Tochinoshin is too hurt to fight, and I am going to guess Shodai may be highly demoralized at this point. As I sometime do, I suggest these two skip the dohyo and go to Popeye in Sumida for a LOT of beer instead.

Kakuryu vs Tamawashi – I am still sticking to the idea that Big K is hurt, but trying to hang tough for the fans. If Tamawashi up-ends him, it may be the signal it’s time to go kyujo.

Aki Day 7 Highlights

The to It took a while for me to summon the mental state to write the day 7 highlights, as frankly my initial reactions to the corpus of day 7 Makuuchi was a blend of disappointment, disbelief and disappointment, and that’s no way to write about sumo. Transitional periods like the one we have been in for a while are chaotic and disorienting, regardless of the field of endeavor. In a sport like sumo, where its individuals rather than teams, the chaos can be more pronounced.

Day 7 featured a lot of sub-par sumo in my opinion. The higher up the torikumi, the worse the problem was. Cheap, sloppy and not quite what fans have been used to for the past 10 years. I can say that I was (and maybe others) were spoiled by the high level of sumo that has been our bi-monthly staple for a good long time. With the old guard winding down, and the new champions finding their way, there are going to be periods where it all looks like hell.

I think it’s emblematic of the period, and level of sumo, that Okinoumi remains undefeated and the sole yusho leader. Not to subtract anything against a solid, journeyman rikishi. He has had a few prior hot streaks in the past, my favorite being Kyushu 2017, where he picked up his 3rd Jun-Yusho and his 3rd Kanto-sho. But the fact that a rikishi whose hatsu-dohyo was in January 2005 tells me quite a bit about just how broken and battered the top division is right now.

On to the matches.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma up from Juryo, he made a good show of it at first, until Azumaryu shrugged of the face slaps, grabbed Chiyoshoma’s mawashi and gave him a reason to go put on his yukata.

Ishiura defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama opened strong, throwing a lot of tsuppari against Ishiura, who used a fascinating tactic – absorb and shift. This kept Yutakayama constantly working for a firm stance, and prevented any durable offensive theme from emerging. As the seconds tick by, Yutakayama is becoming more frantic – Ishiura is draining him of energy, and it works! Yutakayama’s balance gets sloppy and he goes to grapple Ishiura. Once that happens, he’s easy meat for Ishiura, who takes the exhausted Yutakayama out in a rush. There was a long stretch of time when I though Ishiura was a lost cause, but he has shown some solid sumo, and some strategic thinking this basho.

Daishoho defeats Takagenji – It was bound to happen some time, and I am glad that Daishoho racked his first win at last. Daishoho did a masterful job of containing Takagenji and preventing him from really mounting a credible threat.

Shohozan defeats Tochiozan – I swear these two are fighting at half of their original speed. The skill is still there, but the lightning fast attacks are nowhere to be found. The two battled for some kind of grip, and fought back and forth for control of the inside position, and wore each other down. It ended when Tochiozan appeared to have run out of stamina, and Shohozan went for a Yorikiri.

Tsurugisho defeats Enho – Enho could not work his magic today, as Tsurugisho bracketed him and kept quite low at the end of the match. Like most of the tall rikishi, Tsurugisho struggled to figure out what to do with his grip all the way around the back of Enho’s mawashi. Many time Enho uses this awkward position to great advantage, and in fact Tsurugisho had to spend some time thinking it through.

Meisei defeats Kagayaki – Meisei pulled out a rescue move at the tawara, with Kagayaki advancing strongly for the win. A couple of the shimpan looked like they thought a monoii was in order, but the call stood, and Meisei holds on to his 1 loss record to stay just behind Okinoumi.

Sadanoumi defeats Nishikigi – Sadanoumi wrapped up Nishikigi, and kept him from doing any defensive work. With Sadanoumi firmly in control, he quickly moved to yorikiri and put the match away. A sound tactic given Nishikigi’s habit of stalemating his opponents and using his stamina to gain advantage.

Kotoyuki defeats Toyonoshima – There are days when Kotoyuki looks dead serious, and days when he looks like he’s just out for some fun. Today was serious, and the serious Kotoyuki and deliver some winning sumo.

Takarafuji defeats Onosho – Onosho never really had a handle on this match, and was frankly trying anything he could muster against the pillar of stability that Takarafuji can sometimes become. If you want to see someone really execute a deflect defense, go watch Takarafuji in this match. Each time Onosho drives power to the inside, Takarafuji routes it away. It’s fitting that the match ends with Takarafuji routes a vigorous Onosho thrusting attack leftward and down to the clay.

Kotoshogiku defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi attempted a henka, but Kotoshogiku does not tachiai quite like he used to, and easily rolls to attack the leaping Terutsuyoshi. Both men went down in a heap, but the win went to Kotoshogiku after the judges figure out that Terutsuyoshi was simply ballast at the point that Kotoshogiku touched out.

Okinoumi defeats Myogiryu – Apologies if I seemed to detract from Okinoumi unbroken winning streak in the opening commentary. The man has been executing some of the best sumo of the tournament each and every day. Myogiryu puts him to the test, and comes up short. Take a look at Okinoumi’s harmony between his upper body and his footwork. I swear that this guy must have studied ballet at some point, as he puts on a master class of controlling balance, force and stability in motion. In spite of Myogiryu getting a double inside grip, Okinoumi controls this match.

Kotoeko defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi got a bit hasty trying to seal the win, and allowed Kotoeko to escape and set up to switch to offense. Good to see Kotoeko keep in the fight, even if it looks like he is about to hit the clay.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama’s tachiai keeps improving. Today he was able to land that left hand front grip that he has used with great effect so many times. Ryuden knows at once he’s in trouble, and struggles for any part of his opponent to hold on to. Asanoyama advances for a quick win.

Aoiyama defeats Hokutofuji – The second winless rikishi in the tournament picks up his first win. After a pull, we finally get to see some long-missing Aoiyama V-Twin attack. Where has that been hiding? See what it did to Hokutofuji? Now keep using that, please.

Abi defeats Endo – The risk of fighting Abi is that if he can bracket you in, it’s nearly impossible to recover from the relentless tsuppari torrent this guy unleashes. Endo probably had an excellent, well thought out plan for this match, but Abi trapped him in the avalanche and buried him under a rain of blows. Thought they went out together, Endo touched out first. Another close match that got no review. Fine…

Chiyotairyu defeats Takakeisho – One of the larger let downs of the day, Chiyotairyu decided to henka rather than fight.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Was anyone else surprised and delighted when Shodai executed a pretty good tachiai, raising Mitakeumi up at the shikiri-sen? If anything it seems to have motivated Mitakeumi, what turned on the power and advanced. As is his custom, Shodai went evasive with great effect, but Mitakeumi stuck with him and kept him pinned down.

Daieisho defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s got nothing left in that leg. Each day he moves less well, and fans have to wonder just how much more damage he is accumulating by continuing to compete.

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – The best chance to beat Tamawashi is to open strong and shut down any offense he might think he wants to try. Goeido executed this with great effect, including a bit of a spin that leaves Tochinoshin completely disrupted.

Tomokaze defeats Kakuryu – Three days, three kinboshi, and his second consecutive kinboshi to Tomokaze. Kakuryu is probably torn between healing whatever injury has put him into his “soft” mode and making sure the fans in Tokyo have at least one Yokozuna match in their sumo day. Tomokaze, leaving the dohyo, bursts into tears. I think the tumult in Oguruma may be at least partially to blame. In less than a year we have had Takakaze and Yoshikaze both go intai. For a young rikishi like Tomokaze, the realization that YOU are now the future of that stable can be rather a lot to take in.

Aki Day 7 Preview

Welcome to the middle weekend! For this basho it is clearly a time when the doors will come flying off of this basho, as we once again are riding the bucking beast of the “Wacky Aki”. How crazy might it get? Lets look at some potentials

  • Kakuryu is injured, pulls out and we are left with a “nokazuna Aki” – Well, given that Big K is not looking genki, he may in fact be hurt. This would open things up wide for yet another lower ranked yusho winner. Although I do like how Asanoyama is looking right now
  • Tochinoshin is in no condition for real sumo – Every day he’s using evasive, seat of the pants sumo to try to get any win he can. If he had the health and body condition to deploy they sky crane, we would see it every day. I am very sad that his path to 8 is looking so hard.
  • Takakeisho took an unexpected fall (note the Aki pun..) – While it was most likely an accidental tangle with a piece of errant footwear, the fall on day 6 might have been trouble for that knee. He needs 5 more to take Ozeki back, and we all want him to get there before Asanoyama starts his first try.
  • Enho – I don’t care what anyone says, I think he could actually compete for the yusho. He has his own quantum universe that supports his sumo, and it seems to just be growing in strength. As soon as Okinoumi takes his first trip to the clay, the drunken barnyard brawl for the yusho is on (currently 8 rikishi at 5-1 or better).
  • If Andy called it, I am going to give up all hope – Part of that 5-1 crowd is none other than Endo. Should the Great Sumo Cat be in such a mood, the post-yusho interview would probably be the most painful since “Satonoasha the Mute” won the 23rd contest between the Yayoi and Jomon champions around 429 AD.

Looking at the list above, I may need to visit Mitsuwa for more sake.

Aki Leaderboard

Please don’t let it be Endo… Please don’t let it be Endo… oh please oh please oh please

Leader: Okino-freaking-umi
Chasers: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Endo, Myogiryu, Meisei, Enho, Ishiura
Hunt Group: Kakuryu, Goeido, Abi, Asanoyama, Tamawashi, Tsurugisho

9 Matches Remain

(Little voice in Bruce’s head) Hey, at least its not Shodai 6-0…

What We Are Watching Day 7

Chiyoshoma vs Azumaryu – Dear old Chiyoshoma comes to visit, and what a pleasant surprise! He comes with his winning record at Juryo 2. Might he be sizing up the chances for his return to the top division? Azumaryu hopes to change his fortunes in the first match of the top division.

Ishiura vs Yutakayama – I maintain high hopes for Yutakayamaa’s long-term performance, but it’s clear he’s struggling right now. Ishiura not only holds a 4-2 career advantage over him, but also seems to be fighting better than he has in about 2 years.

Takagenji vs Daishoho – Daishoho has yet to win a single match, and he’s neck-and-neck with Aoiyama for the first to make it to make-koshi. Takagenji needs to start racking more wins if he’s going to stay in the top division, regardless of what is going on in his messy personal life.

Shohozan vs Tochiozan – Battle of the hardened vets, both of them come in at 3-3, and lots of history rolled into a shockingly even 12-13 career record. Both of them look like they are feeling the years on the dohyo weighing them down thus September.

Tsurugisho vs Enho – I think this is an Enho bellwether match. He has never beaten Tsurugisho in 3 attempts, and Tsurugisho comes in with a solid 4-2 record. If Enho can prevail, I think we may see a break-out performance from the fire pixie, and I am sure the crowd will love it.

Kagayaki vs Meisei – Meisei has the momentum right now, so I have to say he’s favored in my book. Kagayaki has had some straightforward matches (he likes those) that have gone silly in the middle and ended in a loss. Sort of the benchmark for Aki thus far.

Sadanoumi vs Nishikigi – I am not sure why they double arm bar hold keeps working for Nishikigi, but it sure seems to be his “thing”. He has used it before against Sadanoumi, and I would expect we will see it Saturday too.

Toyonoshima vs Kotoyuki – Both of these rikishi have dug some fairly good sized holes for themselves in terms of score. I think for Toyonoshima it may end up being insurmountable, as a lot of his competition in the bottom half of the banzuke seems to be fighting well.

Onosho vs Takarafuji – This is an excellent test match for the recovering Onosho. Although he is still only maybe 80% of his pre-injury self, he seems to have gotten in touch with his sumo again. Both men come into the match 3-3, and with a nearly even career record.

Kotoshogiku vs Terutsuyoshi – First time match up between these two. Kotoshogiku seems to struggle with busy small rikishi, and I think that is exactly what he is going to get in Terutsuyoshi.

Okinoumi vs Myogiryu – Sole leader at 6-0 goes up against a worthy challenger in 5-1 Myogiryu. The two have a long history (11-10) and a win by Myogiryu today would blow the yusho race wide open. An Okinoumi win would knock one of chaser back.

Shimanoumi vs Kotoeko – Both men are 2-4 coming into today, and both need desperately to rally. Although Shimanoumi comes in with a 1-5 career disadvantage, I think he has been fighting better this September.

Ryuden vs Asanoyama – I seriously think Asanoyama is on the path to greatness, if he can stay healthy. He continue to surprise the upper ranks on any given day, and his strength and stamina are slowly improving. With many of the old guard getting toward the end of their careers, he is one to watch.

Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – A match of overwhelming sadness, 1-5 Hokutofuji goes up against winless Aoiyama. I am not sure what took the meatballs out of the fellow’s chanko, but they seem to be running on broth only.

Abi vs Endo – Komusubi battle ahoy! I dread and fear Andy’s preposterous sounding pre-basho forecast of an Endo yusho, so I am counting on Abi-zumo to save the world from that outcome.

Chiyotairyu vs Takakeisho – This would have the potential to be a battle supreme, but Chiyotairyu is not moving well, and his big tachiai is considerably reduced. But that still leaves the problem of Chiyotairyu’s overwhelming mass. Time to see if Takakeisho re-injured that knee.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Even though Mitakeumi comes in with a 5-1 record, I think Shodai is going to pip the Sekiwake today. I grouse about Shodai more than I should, but against some opponents he is unpredictable and dangerous. I expect the Mitakeumi army to be out in force on Saturday to cheer on Nagano’s favorite rikishi.

Tochinoshin vs Daieisho – Fresh from his kinboshi against Kakuryu, Daieisho face the injured relic of Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin is trying to find some way, any way to get more wins in spite of what is clearly overwhelming pain in his knee.

Tamawashi vs Goeido – Goeido has been hit or miss for the past few days, and Tamawashi will not given him much of a chance to set up an attack. So that means Goeido moves early, fast and puts everything into an opening gambit. This is when Goeido is at his best.

Kakuryu vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze surprised Kakuryu in Nagoya, handing him his only loss of the basho. But Tomokaze is looking a lot less genki then he was in July, and seems to be focusing on just getting to 8 any way he can.

Aki Day 6 Highlights

It was a tumultuous day on the clay at the Kokugikan, which left us with a sole undefeated leader – journeyman veteran Okinoumi. The favored rikishi in multiple matches went out, went down, and handed the white star to the other guy. How bad was it? You will know once you watch the video feed. It was the kind of day that makes sumo fans frustrated. There were multiple “non-kimarite” finishes, and the crowning achievement was Yokozuna Kakuryu’s second kinboshi in 2 days. I am going to say the lone surviving Yokozuna may be hurt now, and we may be headed to a “nokazuna” tournament shortly.

Highlight Matches

Takanosho defeats Yutakayama – Juryo visitor and Juryo yusho co-leader puts the doom on Yutakayama with an overwhelming thrusting attack. This is Yutakayama’s forte, but Takanosho just attacks with no quarter.

Ishiura defeats Tochiozan – Ishiura seems to have found a nice “groove”, which looks similar to Enho’s, but is more maneuver / evade based. It’s working well, and today it pushed grizzled veteran Tochiozan back down to 3-3.

Takagenji defeats Toyonoshima – I am happy to see Takagenji get it together enough to win another one. Folks love Toyonoshima, but I am starting to worry he may have reached the end of his run in the top division. Takagenji went left hand inside, and was able to resist Toyonoshima’s considerable forward pressure.

Nishikigi defeats Azumaryu – Nishikigi once again employs that double-arm bar hold that takes his opponents upper body out of the fight. Most rikishi (like Azumaryu) immediately shrug hard to try and break their arms free. It also raises their center of gravity and gives Nishikigi the win.

Tsurugisho defeats Shohozan – Tsurugisho kept trying to pull, but eventually decided to just face Shohozan, who looked uncharacteristically disrupted today.

Onosho defeats Daishoho – Onosho continues to look rough, but he is piecing together enough wins to keep true on a kachi-koshi trajectory. Hapless Daishoho has yet to win a single match.

Enho defeats Kagayaki – I give a lot of credit to Kagayaki, who seems to have tuned his attack to Enho. He shifts his thrusting about 12 cm lower, and manages to put a lot of pressure on the fire-pixie. But Enho calibrates and adjusts rapidly, breaking contact and coming back lower still. He repeats this 2 more times, each time grabbing for a leg, and Kagayaki stops trying to attack and starts trying to get away. Now off balance, Enho picks him off with no trouble. Wow.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Sadanoumi – Terutsuyoshi has had a rough start, but he was on his sumo today. He found Sadanoumi’s unprotected belly at the tachiai, and kept thrusting.

Meisei defeats Kotoyuki – After a strong start, Kotoyuki has gone back to being a bit silly. Granted he was against Meisei, who is fighting well, but any time I see a post-bout jogging tour of the zabuton section, I have to wonder.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku sets up the hug-n-chug straight out of the tachiai, but Takarafuji know Kotoshogiku’s horizontal hold is poor, and twists at the tawara to send the Kyushu Bulldozer over the edge in a heap.

Okinoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Really straightforward match that gave Okinoumi his 6th consecutive win, and by the end of the day, sole position atop the leaderboard. Shimanoumi got a left hand inside position at the tachiai, but Okinoumi had control of this match from the start.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – I have not seen the wall-buster, canon-ball tachiai from Chiyotairyu yet this basho, and as a result he is 1-5. His balance is always poor, and with a lack of forward energy, its easy for Myogiryu bring him down.

Kotoeko defeats Ryuden – It’s time for the first WTF match! We have Kotoeko fighting well, and a moment of Ryuden’s hand on Kotoeko’s mage, but hey, they keep fighting. Kotoeko gets morozashi, but Ryuden man-handles the smaller Kotoeko out. Everyone gathers to conclude with bow, but Kotoekgo gets the envelopes? Yeah, seems Ryuden put a toe out. Kimarite is listed as isamiashi, which is ancient Yayoi for “Stink Foot”.

Tomokaze defeats Shodai – By the end of this match, fans might conclude that the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan was really hitting the cat nip. Again we see Tomokaze bring the weak sumo with “all pulls all the time”, but he manages to get Shodai in flight before he can try any of his cartoon sumo. But you have Tomokaze taking a good solid wrench during the final pull on Shodai’s mage as well. So we get a monoii, but its gumbai-dori. I give up, these guys should have tried again as this bout was a slop fest.

Abi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama continues to struggle, and today its against Abi. Aoiyama is soft at the tachiai, and Abi more or less toys with him for a second before stepping aside and letting the Aoiyama sail past. Excuse me, sir? A bit more sumo please.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai once again fails to find its mark, and leaves his center-mass wide open for Mitakeumi to attack. Attack he does, and Hokutofuji finds his narrow window for any offense quickly taken away, and a heartbeat later he is over the tawara.

Endo defeats Takakeisho – Endo had the upper hand on this one, as he closed in on Takakeisho and went to work while Takakeisho seemed to try a desperate pull down. But the important element of this match is in fact the kimarite: tsukihiza. As Endo was working to set up a throw, Takakeisho’s knee (the bad one) collapsed out from under him. Maybe he stepped on the gyoji’s sandal? Any way you slice it, more slop.

Asanoyama defeats Goeido – But the Great Sumo Cat was not done, oh no indeed. Asanoyama shows us his Yusho performance was a prelude to the future of sumo, as he grapples Goeido, shuts down his offense and extends his career record over the Ozeki to 3-1. As the match raged, the Gyoji took a dive over the East side, with the Tate Gyoji desperately rising to take over the match but slipping and falling down himself. Goeido looks to have Asanoyama pinned to the edge but in fact Asanoyama has Goeido locked for a throw. Ignore the gyoji antics and watch some first class yotsu-zumo from these two today.

Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s hurt, and is getting no chance to set up his lift-and-shift sumo any more. With Tamawashi you are in for an oshi-battle, and at first it looks like Tochinoshin had secured his much needed 3rd win. But once again the Great Sumo Cat, now bombed out of his mind on sumo and cat nip, summons the monoii, who identify that Tochinoshin likewise has a case of “stink foot” and awards the match to Tamawashi. Dead body? Stink foot? Corn clog in port 7? This match has it all.

Daieisho defeats Kakuryu – Anyone who has cats knows, they can be jerks. When mine gets in a mood, he will start knocking things off of shelves just to watch them break. I am going to assume this was the general disposition of that mystical kami I call “The Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan” today. Kakuryu had control over this match, until a poorly considered attempt to pull left his chest open, and Daieisho attacked with precision and vigor. This is 2 kinboshi dropped by Kakuryu in 2 days. He has in the past gotten mentally off of his sumo when he starts to lose, so lets see if he can get it back under control.