Tokyo July Basho Day 12 Preview

With Daieisho’s win over Hakuho on day 11, the race for the Yusho has broadened quite a bit. I am not surprised to see Hakuho and Asanoyama now in a tie for the lead. But also in the 1 loss crowd is.. Terunofuji? Why yes, the former Ozeki is at 10-1, and appears to be ready to run up the score. Word from the scheduling team is that if he wins his day 12 match against M9e Tamawashi (a 8 rank banzuke gap), he will start to take on San’yaku opponents starting day 13. As exciting as it sounds to have the resurgent former Ozeki, and sometimes Kaiju, stomping through the upper ranks, we fear his sumo and his knees may benefit from a slower climb.

Elsewhere, it seems to my eye that an amazing block of rikishi are headed straight toward day 15 7-7 “Darwin” matches. Our mock Natsu basho was thick with them as well, and for newcomers to the world of sumo, they are a head to head match between two 7-7 rikishi, where the winner exits with a kachi-koshi, and the loser a make-koshi.

Tokyo July Leaderboard

Leaders (10-1) – Hakuho, Asanoyama, Terunofuji
Hunt Group (8-3)Takakeisho, Shodai, Mitakeumi, Tamawashi, Kotoshogiku, Kotoeko

4 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 12

Tobizaru vs Chiyomaru – I have been hoping for some time that Tobizaru would finally put together enough sumo to make a pay for the top division, and now from Juryo 2, he may finally have a shot. He comes it at 6-5 to face already make-koshi Chiyomaru. If the flying monkey (Tobizaru) can find 2 more wins, he stands a decent chance for making his top division debut in the next tournament.

Nishikigi vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage is looking for win #8 today, and I have to compliment his stamina and form during this, his top division debut. Nishikigi, at 5-6, is part of that crowd that I think are headed into Darwin territory for day 15.

Shohozan vs Tochinoshin – Also in the Darwin lane is dear former Ozeki Tochinoshin. The time without contact practice, Jungyo or even test matches seems to have given some strength back to his damaged knee. Dare we hope that maybe he might be able to rally one more time? His opponent, Shohozan, is probably feeling every one of his 36 years, more than half of which has been spent getting bashed in the head, body and legs every day.

Kaisei vs Sadanoumi – Both of these guys are also clearly on the Darwin path. It’s going to be brutal if we end up with 4 or 5 head to head 7-7s, but it seems to be endemic now, as the field in lower to mid Makuuchi is very evenly balanced between new talent finding the next level of power in their sumo, an fading legends and mainstays working through the decline.

Kotoshogiku vs Myogiryu – Twenty Five (25 / 13-12) career matches between these two. Kotoshogiku already having his 8th win, and Myogiryu looking for his kachi-koshi today, I have a hunch that we may see the Kyushu Bulldozer suffer a loss. Like Tochinoshin, the time with light, or individual practice seems to have benefited Kotoshogiku’s damaged undercarriage, and he is fighting better this tournament than he has in about a year.

Tamawashi vs Terunofuji – The big question mark match. These two have 10 prior matches, and have split them 5-5. Both are kachi-koshi, and will be moving up the banzuke for September. I have faith that Tamawashi will be giving Terunofuji every ounce of fighting spirit today, so expect fireworks. I expect Tamawashi to “hit and shift” and Terunofuji to go for a mawashi grip. Who gets the first offensive move to connect will have advantage.

Takayasu vs Ikioi – Also in grave risk of a day 15 Darwin match is former Ozeki Takayasu. Given how many injuries and miseries Ikioi has endured, I am going to be curious to see if he attacks Takayasu’s left elbow like half of his opponents have this basho. Their career record of 13-6 means little today, as both of these rikishi are a fraction of their proper power and strength.

Ishiura vs Kotoyuki – While Ishiura is one loss away from make-koshi, Kotoyuki is part of that broad group of men who are headed into Darwin territory. Ishiura has not really been able to find his sumo, and he has only managed to win 2 of his last 5. I would love to see him get his edge back, and dominate with aggressive small-man sumo, leaving some of the stunts and henka aside.

Shimanoumi vs Chiyotairyu – Shimanoumi already make-koshi, Chiyotairyu on a clear course for a 7-7 day 14 score and a lovely slot in a brutal match with only one survivor. Is it me, or has Chiyotairyu seemed to have dropped some of his belly-mass?

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoshoho – Newcomer Kotoshoho looks to be on track to score at least 8 wins in his first top division tournament. He has shown some great sumo, and tons of energy this July. Hopefully if he can stay healthy and focused, he can be a mainstay of the next generation of rikishi. Terutsuyoshi – yeah, another likely Darwin candidate.

Kotoeko vs Tokushoryu – I am genuinely pleased that Kotoeko has 8 wins with time and sumo to spare. This will likely be his best finish since last July when he turned in a respectable 9-6 in the sweat stadium of Nagoya. I am also enjoying the fact that we see Tokushoryu going to his tsukiotoshi trademark move quite a lot this basho. I know everyone expects it, but he does it with such flair.

Takanosho vs Ryuden – If ever there were two rikishi who seemed to be “Darwin Match” poster boys, it would be these two. Takanosho is really struggling at this rank, which is good. He is strong enough, and his sumo is good enough, that he was able to work up to the rank where he is truly challenged now. He’s young, personable and hard working, so I expect we will be enjoying his sumo quite a bit for years to come.

Aoiyama vs Onosho – As a shameless Onosho booster, its a shame to look at his 0-11 record, and realize that it has the possibility of wrecking his mental sumo for a long time to come. I hope he at least has some kind of injury or problem that gives him a reason to get himself over this dread terrible record. He’s going against Aoiyama today, and while I would love for him to have his first win (Shonichi!), it’s tough to win against Aoiyama unless your balance is perfect, and it’s clear that for this July, Onosho’s is not.

Endo vs Takarafuji – Our mock basho in May had Endo with a 7-7 heading into day 15, and it looks like the simulation may have gotten that one right. Endo and Takarafuji have an even 8-8 career record, and both seem to be suffering from the lack of full power training matches with rikishi from other heya in the days leading up to the start of the tournament.

Kiribayama vs Yutakayama – Only slightly less grim that Onosho’s 0-11 is Yutakayama’s 1-10, with that lonely white star being against hapless Onosho. Kiribayama has won their 2 prior matches, and needs to do what he can to stave off make-koshi for another day.

Kagayaki vs Okinoumi – Another one of my “up and coming” rikishi, Kagayaki, has run out of genki power early and stayed less than awesome for the past 11 days. This is an odd basho in so many ways, and its tough to know if the problem is lack of training, or just too many distractions for some of these athletes. Okinoumi at 6-5 as been fighting a bit better than normal, and given that he is 35 and has to contend with a chronic lower abdominal injury, he is doing quite well. They are tied 4-4 over their career, but I would give the edge to Okinoumi for day 12.

Shodai vs Enho – Shodai takes no crazy stuff from Enho. The power pixie of Miyagino has yet to find a winning formula to overcome Shodai and his uncanny cartoon sumo. I have faith that there is a way to apply the same kind of technique that worked so well on day 11 against Takanosho to Shodai as well.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – I breathed a sign of relief when Takakeisho hit his 8th win. I know many sumo fans were less than happy with the ruling coming from the mono-ii, but he has cleared kadoban. Daieisho is fresh from beating Hakuho, and one win from his own kachi-koshi. So I am expecting full throttle Daieisho today.

Hokutofuji vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama holds a 5-2 career advantage, but I watch for Hokutofuji to do the unexpected. He seems to have finally gotten back in touch with his sumo, and has won 3 of the last 4. In spite of his prior yusho experience (from Maegashira 8..), the pressure of waiting for that match against Hakuho may be eating away at his focus. Much of sumo is mental, and it will be interesting to watch Asanoyama in the final 4 days of this basho.

Hakuho vs Mitakeumi – The Boss is bound to be disappointed in his day 11 loss, which put him in a 3 way tie for the cup. He gets to try and take out his frustration on Mitakeumi, who has suffered a bit of his traditional week 2 fade. If Mitakeumi wants to start any kind of Ozeki bid, he doing to go have to win 2 of his last 4 match. Good luck, original tadpole!

Tokyo July Basho Day 11 Highlights

As Bruce would say, Act Three is upon us. It’s been a long time coming but we are now in the final stages of the July tournament. We’ve got quite the horse race with Secretariat Hakuho out in front chased by Asanoyama and Terunofuji. Terunofuji’s early success here reminds me of Ichinojo’s debut run. I’m eager to see how far he can take it. Asanoyama’s form, with the one weak performance against Mitakeumi, has been excellent. The three champions start Day 11 in fine form.

Highlight Matches

Nishikigi (4-6) defeated Chiyoshoma: Chiyoshoma-induced matta meant a henka was coming. Nishikigi snuffed it out but appeared to go down first as Chiyoshoma pulled while Nishikigi dove into Chiyoshoma. Mono-ii. Nishikigi was shown to be driving Chiyoshoma out and Chiyoshoma touched down outside. Oshidashi. This is the rule set we’re used to.

Wakatakakage (6-4) defeated Chiyomaru (3-7): Chiyomaru-induced matta Wakatakakage drove Chiyomaru back immediately. Chiyomaru tried a trip at the bales but missed. Wakatakakage continued to apply pressure to Chiyomaru’s shoulders, and drove him up and over the bales. Yorikiri.

Terunofuji (9-1) defeated Tochinoshin (6-4): Dramatic staredown, and immediate engagement on the belt at the tachiai for both men. A stalemate at the center of the ring as each man’s attempts to get momentum started was met with fierce resistance. Tochinoshin applied Sky Crane power and backed Terunofuji half-way to the tawara before Terunofuji could stop their progress. Tochinoshin let go with the left to try a throw at the edge but Terunofuji pivoted, maintained pressure on Tochinoshin and walked an exhausted Tochinoshin over the bales. Yorikiri. What else?

Shimanoumi (3-8) defeated Shohozan (2-9): Shohozan kept Shimanoumi off the belt but Shimanoumi continued to advance, ushering Shohozan over the tawara and out. Shohozan was perhaps a bit preoccupied with trying to mold Shimanoumi’s face like Play-Doh rather than actually advancing his position. Oshidashi.

Kotoyuki (5-6) defeated Myogiryu (7-4): Kotoyuki advanced from the tachiai, Myogiryu in retreat. Myogiryu continued to rotate to his right but Kotoyuki stayed right with him, paddling Myogiryu over the edge. Tsukidashi.

Kotoeko (8-3) defeated Ikioi (2-9): Ikioi solid on the tachiai, drove Kotoeko back a step but Kotoeko applied pressure to Ikioi shoving Ikioi to the edge. As soon as Kotoeko got a hand on Ikioi’s belt, he was able to get the leverage to raise Ikioi over the edge. Yorikiri.

Tamawashi (8-3) defeated Kotoshoho (7-4): Kotoshoho abandoned any attempt at a yotsu battle, engaging in a slapfest, and advancing to the edge. An ill-timed pull attempt from Kotoshoho. Tamawashi followed, driving forward through the Sadogatake beya youngster. Tsukitaoshi.

Takayasu (6-5) defeated Chiyotairyu (5-6): Takayasu with a shoulder blast at the tachiai, tried once to grab Chiyotairyu’s belt with the left but was denied. A powerful blast to the face from the former Ozeki sent Chiyotairyu into reverse. Takayasu pursued, driving Chiyotairyu over the bales. Tsukidashi.

Sadanoumi (5-6) defeated Ishiura (4-7): Sadanoumi off-balance, matta. Sadanoumi strong with the tachiai, slid Ishiura back. A well timed pull, with the right-handed force down on Ishiura’s traps forced Sadanoumi to the floor. Hatakikomi.

Kaisei (5-6) defeated Tokushoryu (6-5): Superior balance from Kaisei today. Tokushoryu advanced only to attempt pulls but Kaisei was wise to Tokushoryu’s strategy so he maintained his balance during each attack. Tokushoryu tired after a few laps around the ring and Kaisei was able to drive Tokushoryu out. Yorikiri.

Halftime

Kotoshogiku (8-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (5-6): Terutsuyoshi met Kotoshogiku head on but Kotoshogiku overwhelmed Terutsuyoshi with his power. He pivoted Terutsuyoshi north and drove through. No gabburi needed, just solid footwork. One foot in front of the other bulldozed Terutsuyoshi until he was over the edge. Yorikiri.

Ryuden (5-6) defeated Onosho (0-11): Onosho woke up, with a strong tachiai bloodies Ryuden’s nose and forced him back. Ryuden shifts a bit to his left but Onosho maintained pressure moving forward. As soon as Ryuden reached the bales, Onosho attempted a throw. This was a huge mistake as it allowed Ryuden to come back to the center of the ring. Ryuden with a forceful pull of his own, hands shoved on the back of Onosho’s head, and drove Onosho to the dirt. Hatakikomi.

Enho (5-6) defeated Takanosho (5-6): Matta from Takanosho. Enho got the jump after the reset, catching Takanosho unprepared. He drove his shoulder into Takanosho and thought about a belt grip but didn’t need it. With his leverage from below, he drove Takanosho up and out of balance. Once Tananosho’s momentum was in reverse, he could not get a solid grip on the dohyo, Enho shoving Takanosho out. Oshidashi.

Aoiyama (4-7) defeated Yutakayama (1-10): What? Aoiyama on the belt — voluntarily? What the hell was that? Yutakayama had the advantage at the tachiai. Powerful thrusts forced Aoiyama back to the bales but get this. Aoiyama secured a solid left-hand grip on Yutakayama’s belt, and with a right forearm in Yutakayama’s chest drove Yutakayama back. Aoiyama has lost more than twice as many yorikiri bouts as he’s won. But he’s got a solid yotsu win here. Do that from now on! Yorikiri.

Endo (5-6) defeated Kiribayama (4-7): A shift by Kiribayama but Endo stayed upright and pursued Kiribayama. Kiribayama drove forward into Endo, Endo sliding back, halfway to the tawara. But sensing Kiribayama is out of control, Endo thrusts down hard on Kiribayama’s back, once, twice, thrice, and Kiribayama is down. Endo wins an oshi battle with Kiribayama. Am I still asleep? It’s 4:30am here so it’s quite possible I’m still dreaming but I’ll roll with it. Tsukitotoshi.

Sanyaku

Okinoumi (6-5) defeated Takarafuji (4-7): Okinoumi with a strong tachiai, got Takarafuji back a step. Both men with solid holds of their opponent. Takarafuji with a right-hand grip on the belt while Okinoumi has his right firmly on Takarafuji’s torso. Takarafuji drove forward and a well-timed pull from Okinoumi paired with a strong shove down sent Takarafuji to the clay. Tsukiotoshi.

Hokutofuji (7-4) defeated Shodai (8-3): Hokutofuji’s strong charge into Shodai who’s back to his less-than-impressive tachiai. Shodai drove forward with Hokutofuji circling in retreat to his right, with his left elbow connecting with Shodai’s head as he pulled. Shodai driven down by Hokutofuji as he reached the edge, trying to force out Hokutofuji. But Hokutofuji was still standing in the dohyo when Shodai went down. Tsukiotoshi.

Asanoyama (10-1) defeated Kagayaki (4-7): Kagayaki thrust his right arm into Asanoyama’s face but the Ozeki powered forward. He secured his left arm under Kagayaki’s right arm pit and got Kagayaki going back to the Ozeki’s right. Once Asanoyama got his right arm in there, too, Kagayaki was toast. Yorikiri.

Takakeisho (8-3) defeated Mitakeumi (8-3): Mitakeumi was ready but Takakeisho rolling his head around didn’t want to go yet. Takakeisho drove forward, Mitakeumi in retreat pushing down on Takakeisho’s back. No mono-ii? The version of the rule book omitting the bit about “first one to touch down loses”, is still apparently in the officials’ hands. Takakeisho benefits from it, yet again. Mitakeumi was dead when he jumped back, despite the fact that he was simultaneously forcing Takakeisho’s head down. Oshidashi.

Daieisho (7-4) defeated Hakuho (10-1): Hakuho is mortal. Hakuho wanted to pull, going for a hatakikomi at the tachiai but his right foot looked a bit out of control, splayed out far from his body as he nearly slipped. He recovered and drove forward into Daieisho, securing (momentarily) a right-hand belt grip under Daieisho’s mawashi but Daieisho deftly rolled his left shoulder and stepped back, slipping behind the boss. Uh-oh. The Yokozuna circled back around to try to regain the offensive but Daieisho had pounced, driving Hakuho back and out. Oshidashi.

A wry smile from Hakuho and he stopped by the video monitors on the way out to see the replay. He will not want to make the same mistake as we now have a three-man race for the title: Hakuho, Asanoyama & Terunofuji. Three popular champions will duke it out in Act Three. And I’m sure we’ll have more to discuss about dead men.

Tokyo July Basho Day 10 Highlights

We’re here. Shaken AND stirred. It’s Day 10. The close of Act 2 is upon us and the sumo gods have brought us a doozy. I’m going to bed but I’m sure sleep is a long way off. What on Earth have I just witnessed?

Highlight Matches

Kotoeko (7-3) defeated Meisei: Kotoeko on the defensive from Meisei’s strong tachiai. An oshi-tsuki battle, Meisei drove Kotoeko back to the bales. He couldn’t get him over so he grabbed the arm and attempted a throw. Kotoeko survived just to get charged back across the ring. At the opposite bales Kotoeko finally struck decisively, driving Meisei down to the clay. Kotoeko escaped with a sigh of relief! Hatakikomi

Wakatakakage (6-4) defeated Takayasu (5-5): Wakatakakage stepped to the side at the tachiai and (grabbing that weak left arm) pulled Takayasu down. Tsukiotoshi.

Chiyomaru (3-7) defeated Sadanoumi (4-6): A slapfest played into Chiyomaru’s hands. Chiyomaru sidestepped the tachiai but Sadanoumi recovered to face a barrage of Chiyomaru thrusts. At the decisive moment, Chiyomaru timed his pull well and forced Sadanoumi down. Hikiotoshi.

Terunofuji (9-1) defeated Shohozan (2-8): Terunofuji didn’t like the stare down and forced a reset. Finally with breathing in sync, Shohozan met Terunofuji head on and immediately Terunfouji got low, fishing for that belt. Shohozan pulled and tried to push Terunofuji down but Terunofuji maintained his balance and countered by driving Shohozan down. Hikiotoshi.

Nishikigi (4-6) defeated Shimanoumi (2-8): An entertaining and evenly matched back-and-forth ensued after the initial charge. Neither man would maintain a belt grip for long, twisting and turning at the center of the ring. Shimanoumi drove Nishikigi forward but Nishikigi twisted to his left, grabbed his opponent’s belt and drove Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri.

Kotoyuki (4-6) defeated Tochinoshin (6-4): Kotoyuki charged but Tochinoshin slipped to the side in retreat. Driven back to the bales, Tochinoshin chose the wrong time  to try a pull. Kotoyuki obliged, helping push the Georgian out. Oshidashi.

Kaisei (4-6) defeated Kotoshoho (7-3): Kotoshoho pulled at the tachiai and went of the offensive but Kaisei defended well. Kotoshoho was the first to the belt, dragging Kaisei across the dohyo. Kaisei was a bit off balance while seeking that left-hand grip but hopping across he stayed up. Once he found that left-hand grip, he used the advantage to drive into Kotoshoho, force him to the edge and then throw him down. Shitatedashinage.

Ishiura (4-6) defeated Kotoshogiku (7-3): I think everyone was surprised when Ishiura met Kotoshogiku head on. Kotoshogiku used his gabburi action to drive Ishiura back but Ishiura resisted at the bales. Kotoshogiku went for a second attempt but in a deft maneuver, stepped to the side and threw Giku with the left-handed throw. Uwatedashinage.

Chiyotairyu (5-5) defeated Myogiryu (7-3): Chiyotairyu drove Myogiryu back and into the air with a strong shoulder blast. Myogiryu had no chance to recover as Chiyotairyu advanced, shoving Myogiryu out. Oshidashi.

Tamawashi (7-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (5-5): Tamawashi charged out too quickly so the pair reset. Tamawashi absorbed Terutsuyoshi’s initial charge. With several thrusts and slaps, the former yusho winner tried to force Terutsuyoshi to stay high. After two unsuccessful pull attempts, Tamawashi was finally successful on the third, pulling his smaller opponent’s left arm to the side and thrusting his aite down as Terutsuyoshi moved forward. Hikiotoshi.

Tokushoryu (6-4) defeated Ikioi (2-8): Bravely, Ikioi charged forward, not knowing what lie in wait. Tokushoryu swung Ikioi around by the left arm, throwing Ikioi clear off the surface of the dohyo. Tottari.

Halftime

Kagayaki (4-6) defeated Enho (4-6): It always amazes me when Enho charges forward into such larger opponents. Kagayaki forced Enho back to the other side of the ring and effectively corralled the Hakuho’s deshi. Enho tried an ashitori but why is he trying to grab the other leg with the other arm? Won’t that just keep…? Oooo. Hataki-squish-ikomi.

Ryuden (4-6) defeated Kiribayama (4-6): Ryuden charged forward, securing a right handed belt grip while Kiribayama was still reaching for his own grip. Ryuden wasn’t going to just wait around and let him in so he used that right arm grip to throw Kiribayama into the center of the ring. Uwatenage

Endo (4-6) defeated Onosho (0-10): There are no outward signs of injury from Onosho. He moves well around the dohyo before the bout. But he also let Endo move easily inside to secure a belt grip. Onosho pushed Endo back to the bales but couldn’t drive him over. Onosho slid slightly as Endo pushed forward from the tawara. This left Onosho off-balance and susceptible to Endo’s quick throw. Uwatenage.

Takarafuji (4-6) defeated Yutakayama (1-9): Yutakayama showed the initiative in this bout. While Takarafuji was still pushing forward trying to get a belt grip, Yutakayama pulled and twisted, forcing Takarafuji to the ground. But wait! Mono-ii ensued as Yutakayama’s right foot rolled over as Takarafuji drove him forward? What? I sense much confusion coming from this decision. I need more replays. No, I really don’t. “Yoritaoshi.”

Sanyaku

Okinoumi (5-5) defeated Takanosho (5-5): Takanosho drove forward into Okinoumi at the initial charge. The pull attempt was ill-timed so Takanosho drove Okinoumi back to the edge. Okinoumi countered and drove back, reaching up and over his aite with the right arm and bringing it down on Takanosho’s back. Katasukashi.

Daieisho (6-4) defeated Shodai (8-2): Shodai was on the defensive from the outset as Daieisho charged forward. His pull attempt was snuffed out quickly as Daieisho maintained pressure. Once on the bales, Daieisho thrust out. It seemed like Shodai was waiting for an ACME package that never came. I hear there are still some Amazon delays? Or maybe his shipment was coming from the US and is waiting at the port for this quarantine. Tsukidashi.

Takakeisho (7-3) vs Aoiyama (3-7): Are we going to have a belt battle here? No. Lots of slaps as the two charge at each other time and time again. Aoiyama’s pull failed as Takakeisho drove forward. At the bales Takakeisho went into retreat and Aoiyama pursued. Takakeisho timed his decisive pull well and drove Aoiyama down. Hikiotoshi.

Mitakeumi (8-2) defeated Asanoyama (9-1): Asanoyama couldn’t get that left-hand on the belt but he charged forward into his opponent nonetheless. Mitakeumi pivoted, forcing Asanoyama to the outside along the bales. As he got his left hand on Asanoyama’s belt, his right snugly tucked under Asanoyama’s armpit. In retreat, Mitakeumi executed a throw and rolled Asanoyama off the dohyo. Uwatenage.

Hakuho (10-0) defeated Hokutofuji (6-4): Hakuho cast Hokutofuji from his dohyo. Tsukidashi.

Tokyo July Basho Day 9 Highlights

Not much commentary from me to start off. The first half will be a quick read but I’ll make up for it in the description of the sanyaku highlights. Just like today’s broadcast, I go a bit long after the break. A fun, controversial, and complicated day today toward the end. I will just leave this tweet from the Kyokai here. No reason. Now, on to the highlights.

Highlight Matches

Kotoyuki (3-6) defeated Daiamami: Straight-forward oshi/tsuki sumo from Kotoyuki today against the Juryo visitor. He tried a quick pull which Daiamami avoided. but Daiamami could not avoid the continuing onslaught and backed out. Tsukidashi.

Takayasu (5-4) defeated Chiyomaru (2-7): Takayasu absorbed Chiyomaru’s tachiai and early thrusts. A quick sidestep and forceful shove sent Chiyomaru to the clay. Hikiotoshi.

This won’t be enough to quiet the injury talk, or stop his opponents from attempting to exploit those injuries. However, it was a quick strong win from the former Ozeki.

Nishikigi (3-6) defeated Shohozan (2-7): Shohozan abandoned oshi-tsuki after the tachiai, reaching in for Nishikigi’s belt. Nishikigi was all to happy for a grapple, securing his own hold of Shohozan’s belt. Shohozan seemed lost, though, and didn’t muster much of an offense. Nishikigi took the initiative and worked Shohozan out, aggressively. Yoritaoshi.

Terunofuji (8-1) defeated Sadanoumi (4-5): Terunofuji quickly achieved his preferred belt grip and moved steadily forward. A wiggle and some resistance from Sadanoumi deflected action slightly to the side but Terunofuji’s overpowering effort forced Sadanoumi over the edge. Terunofuji kachi-koshi. WONDERFUL to see the Kaiju back. Yorikiri.

Wakatakakage (5-4) defeated Shimanoumi (2-7): At the tachiai both wrestlers settled into a grapple with opposing belt grips. Shimanoumi the early aggressor, shoving Wakatakakage around the dohyo but the straw bales offered enough resistance for Wakatakakage to stay in the ring. Wakatakakage began passively but he came up with the plan Bruce was looking for, to wait. When Shimanoumi tired out, Wakatakakage launched his own attack, patiently working Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri.

Myogiryu (7-2) defeated Kotoeko (6-3): Myogiryu kept Kotoeko off the belt but both engaged tightly. Tried an early pull which didn’t work. But his second pull forced Kotoeko out. Hatakikomi.

Kotoshoho (7-2) defeated Ikioi (2-7): Ikioi thrusted forward, looking genki. But Kotoshoho’s pull forced Ikioi off-balance. Ikioi didn’t go down at the hatakikomi attempt but his forward momentum and a last thrust from Kotoshoho launched him out of the ring. Tsukiotoshi.

Kotoshogiku (7-2) defeated Tamawashi (6-3): Oshi-tsuki vs Yotsu battle here. Early on it was an oshi battle but Kotoshogiku weathered Tamawashi’s multiple engagements. Kotoshogiku attempted a quick pull but his opponent snuffed it out. Kotoshogiku engaged again, wrapping up Tamawashi and quickly forcing him out. Yorikiri.

Tochinoshin (6-3) defeated Ishiura (3-6): Bruce did not get his wish for a repeat aggressive performance from Ishiura. A sidestep and death spin from Ishiura but Tochinoshin rolled with it, locking in with his own belt grip. With that right arm grip, Tochinoshin wore Ishiura down and walked him back and out. Yorikiri.

Terutsuyoshi (5-4) defeated Kaisei (3-6): Terutsuyoshi went after Kaisei aggressively. Kaisei maintained his balance at the early slap down attempt but he had no counter-attack. Terutsuyoshi levered into Kaisei’s armpits forcing him high and onto one leg. Terutsuyoshi kept up the pressure and pushed Kaisei out. Oshidashi.

Halftime

Chiyotairyu (4-5) defeated Ryuden (3-6): Chiyotairyu got the better of the tachiai, forcing Ryuden back a step…and then a little more as Chiyotairyu maintained his attack. Ryuden was in deep trouble and had no defense at the tawara as Chiyotairyu thrust him out. Tsukidashi.

Tokushoryu (5-4) defeated Takarafuji (3-6): Tokushoryu met Takarafuji’s charge head on but shifted to the left and tried a pull. Takarafuji followed and forced Tokushoryu back to the tawara. Takarafuji looked to have Tokushoryu in a bad spot, stood up at the tawara but he couldn’t muster enough strength to force him out. Instead, Tokushoryu danced along the bales and when Takarafuji over-extended, Tokushoryu pushed him down to the clay. Hikiotoshi.

Yutakayama (1-8) defeated Onosho (0-9): The futility bout. Yutakayama showed the most aggressive attacks today. Kachiage at the tachiai and sustained nodowa and face thrusts to keep Onosho high. Yutakayama wrapped up Onosho’s head with a kubinage attempt but Onosho resisted. However, the sustained attack from Yutakayama was too much for Onosho, forced out. Oshidashi.

Endo (3-6) defeated Takanosho (5-4): Takanosho’s early pull attempt was ferreted out by Endo who was able to maintain his balance and position in the center of the ring. Endo kept Takanosho in front of him and forced Takanosho out. Though still missing that energy, Endo’s superior footwork won the day. Oshidashi.

Sanyaku

Hokutofuji (6-3) defeated Daieisho (5-4): Daieisho on the attack, blasted Hokutofuji back. But that was to Hokutofuji’s plan as he wrapped up Daieisho’s head during the ride. The straw bales offered just enough leverage to pivot and force Daieisho down. Both men tumbled out at the same time so we got our first mono-ii conference of the day. However, replay confirmed the gyoji’s decision that Hokutofuji had forced Daieisho down. Tsukiotoshi.

Kiribayama (4-5) defeated Mitakeumi (7-2): A strong tachiai from Mitakeumi forced Kiribayama back a step. However, impressive yotsu-zumo from Kiribayama. Mitakeumi was too high and forced back to the center of the ring by the smaller Kiribayama. If Mitakeumi hoped to wear down Kiribayama, he never got the chance as Kiribayama kept up the attack and forced Mitakeumi out. Yorikiri.

Mitakeumi’s sumo was so impotent today it will surely initiate speculation of injury. Perhaps it was just a bit of listlessness, though, after his tough loss yesterday. There were no outward signs of injury and nothing that was obviously plaguing him but we’ll keep an eye out. If it’s just a case of loss of spirit, however, he’ll need to find it in a hurry. Ozeki don’t lose hope after one difficult setback. He’ll need three more wins, at least, to call this a credible run.

Shodai (8-1) vs Kagayaki (3-6): Kagayaki was the early aggressor. With a strong tachiai he met Shodai head on and worked Shodai back to the bales. However, Shodai maintained his composure and mustered his own attack from the tawara. Shodai demonstrated impressive strength to force Kagayaki completely across the ring in the opposite direction and out. Oshidashi.

Asanoyama (9-0) defeated Okinoumi (4-5): Okinoumi showed some jitters with a false start, forcing a reset. The two settled into a grapple at the tachiai but Okinoumi strongly forced Asanoyama back. Asanoyama twisted at the bales and forced Okinoumi down. The shimpan decided they wanted to take another look. On review, it looked like Asanoyama had won as Okinoumi’s arm touched first. However, the shimpan called a torinaoshi, do-over.

The second bout was more decisive for Asanoyama. Strong tachiai wrapped up Okinoumi and pushed him to the edge but Okinoumi resisted. Then, Asanoyama lost the right-hand grip but pursued Okinoumi and blasted with the right shoulder. Again, Okinoumi did not go out but Asanoyama swung back with that left-hand grip still firm and threw Okinoumi back to the center of the ring. Uwatenage.

Takakeisho (6-3) defeated Enho (4-5): Enho’s typical stand-up tachiai works well with Takakeisho’s thrusting style. Enho was unable to get a belt grip at the beginning of the bout and Takakeisho got the thrusting machine moving in pursuit of a retreating Enho. Takakeisho forced out Enho but as he was going out, Enho reached back and touched Takakeisho’s mawashi.

Since Takakeisho’s momentum carried him out and his foot touched outside before Enho fell, the shimpan wanted to review the decision. However, upon review they decided they agreed with the gyoji’s call. Gumbai dori. Enho’s body was already headed out of the dohyo when Takakeisho’s foot stepped out. I think they got this right because it would have been a very weak “win” for Enho. The win was deservedly Takakeisho’s, though it was not his best sumo. Tsukitaoshi.

As we see from time-to-time, sumo is not about “who touched first”. Usually we find this out when the dead body rule is invoked after a tawara-walker gets blasted out and takes a long fall into the crowd, not landing until after the aggressor falls on his belly. This time, though, we see that Takakeisho clearly won and forced Enho out. Enho was just nimble enough to reach back and touch the knot of Takakeisho’s mawashi but not to alter Takakeisho’s direction or attack in any way. The right call.

Hakuho (9-0) defeated Aoiyama (3-6): Hakuho’s perfect record was never in any real danger in this bout. One of the reasons I admire Hakuho’s sumo is that when he is on, he will use his opponent’s preferred styles and techniques to beat them. He “beats them at their own game.” There’s his epic sky crane battle against Tochinoshin as an example.

In contrast, Tamawashi fights hard to NOT have a belt battle. Whatever he does, he wants an oshi brawl. Kotoshogiku wants the belt. Today, Kotoshogiku’s sumo prevailed but both men wanted his bout. So, what’s Aoiyama’s usual gameplan? Oshi-tsuki sumo with hatakikomi slapdowns.

Denied a belt grip at the tachiai, Hakuho did not just weather Aoiyama’s thrusts. He went on the attack despite them, driving Aoiyama back to the edge like a battleship steaming into the heart of a hurricane. Annoyed by a nodowa, Hakuho nearly rips Aoiyama’s arm off when he pulled it down. The force pitched Aoiyama forward but he maintained his balance and set his eyes back on Hakuho. When he charged forward, that’s when Hakuho struck, using Aoiyama’s trademark parry and slapdown to force the Bulgarian to the ground. Hatakikomi.

Unfortunately, Hakuho himself landed awkwardly off the dohyo and on the gyoji from the previous bouts. This made him lose his balance and land hard in the middle of the purple mats, around the third or fourth row of phantom kyakusama. He quickly popped back up to claim his kensho stack but it did look like a hard fall.

Anyway, I look forward to reading y’all’s points-of-view down in the comments. Yes, that is the proper possessive form of “y’all”. I even looked it up.