Aki Day 15 Highlights

The yusho race ends with a playoff, and a solid day of sumo action. For those of you who read the preview, it seems Asanoyama’s kami did manage to make it back to the Kokugikan in time, but was limping and had a black eye.

The playoff ended with a henka, which was a big disappointment to me. I am sure the YDC will have some grumpy words about that soon enough, as they are quick to criticize such developments. The 2023 Aki basho was indeed a “Wacky Aki” with a Maegashira 15, in his second posting to the top division, achieving a yusho dotten result. Granted, the yusho was a stinky 11-4 win, but someone had to take home the cup.

Congratulations to Takakeisho for your 4th Emperor’s Cup, and for setting the stage to possibly reach Yokozuna by the new year.

Highlight Matches

Nishikifuji defeats Mitakeumi – Not sure where the Mitakeumi from the prior 14 days was today, but he just sort of went “sack of potatoes” and let Nishikifuji have the yorikiri. Nishikifuji with a final day win ends the tournament 5-10.

Endo defeats Kotoshoho – Endo worked very hard to make something happen with that right hand inside, and points to Kotoshoho for shutting it down each and every time. But Endo being Endo, he decided his left hand could do the job too, and flattened Kotoshoho with a kirikaeshi. Nice to see that move, and well executed to boot. Endo finishes Aki 9-6.

Myogiryu defeats Kinbozan – Veteran Myogiryu scores a final day win by over powering Kinbozan in a rapid fight that sent the Kinbozan into one of the shimpan. Not the last shimpan to get a visitor today. Myogiryu’s final record is 10-5 winning by yoritaoshi.

Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – I had hoped for one last katasukashi, and Midorifuji delivered. I am surprised that Aoiyama did not do more to prevent it. The match was over in a moment, with Midorifuji finishing 10-5, and Aoiyama at real risk of being relegated to Juryo for the first time since 2018

Kagayaki defeats Oho – Kagayaki assumes and maintains such poor body position through this whole match, it’s a shame that Oho did not just slap him down. In spite of Kagayaki’s awkward stumbling sumo today, he manages to apply an oshidashi and take the match. Both men finish Aki 5-10.

Chiyoshoma defeats Ryuden – No farewell henka from Chiyoshoma, rather a smooth and well executed kotenage at the third step. Actually nicely done. Chiyoshoma boards the Juryo barge of the Damned with a 3-12.

Onosho defeats Tsurugisho – Onosho only loses his matches against Tsurugisho when Onosho gets too far forward. It looked like Tsurugisho was going to try to set that up, but Tsurugisho’s switch from forward to back hit a misstep, and Onosho drove him out. Onosho finishes Aki 9-6.

Sadanoumi defeats Shonannoumi – First of the Darwin matches goes to Sadanoumi, who landed a right hand frontal mawashi grip at the tachiai, and had Shonannoumi out three steps later. Sadanoumi kachi-koshi at 8-7 for a final score, Shonannoumi make-koshi at 7-8.

Takanosho defeats Daishoho – Daishoho gets a big charge forward, tries a pull hands the match to Takanosho. Sort of sad after that solid tachiai. Takanosho’s final score for Aki is 6-9.

Hiradoumi defeats Tamawashi – Hiradoumi achieved excellent hand placement, including a hazu-oshi to finish pushing Tamawashi out of the ring. Hiradoumi’s final score for Aki 6-9. Tamawashi limped through the basho to 2-13, but kept his spotless attendance record.

Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Shodai actually showed good sumo today, boxing in Takarafuji and never really letting him get into an active defense mode. I think Takarafuji thought Shodai was going to go for a yorikiri, but pivoted into an uwatenage. The second Darwin match ends with Shodai kachi-koshi at 8-7, Takarafuji make-koshi at 7-8.

Asanoyama defeats Atamifuji – The big match to start the second half, Asanoyama had his right hand inside before the second step, and at that point it was all over except the final step over the bales. Atamifuji is young, he’s inexperienced, and has acres of talent. A future version of himself will have that left hand ottsuke he needed today to win this match. He ends Aki with a blistering 11-4, and will face someone in a playoff for the yusho.

Meisei defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko really had no offense in this match, and Meisei was able to box him in and run him out. Good forward pressure by Meisei, which was quickly converted to an oshidashi. He finishes Aki 7-8.

Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s opening nodowa is easy to predict, and we got to see Abi shut it down at the tachiai. The resulting off balance position was perfect for the hatakikomi that followed a moment later, dropping Hokutofuji to the clay. Abi finishes Aki with a 9-6 record.

Gonoyama defeats Tobizaru – I love that Gonoyama was able to finish the basho with a strong win. Sadly it seems Tobizaru’s exit from the ring injured one of the shimpan, who had to be helped out of the venue. I expect we are going to see a lot more good sumo from Gonoyama in the next year. He ends Aki 9-6.

Ura defeats Nishikigi – Ura goes to the nodowa again today, and it likewise seems to work with massive effect, setting Nishikigi up for an immediate tottari that drops him to the clay. Thus ends Nishikigi’s magical mystery tour of the san’yaku at 5-10, while Ura finishes Aki at 9-6.

Kotonowaka defeats Wakamotoharu – A delightful match as the two Sekiwake battle it out. Wakamotoharu had the better grip to start, and maintained it throughout the match. The final exchange was each man trying to lift the other out, with Kotonowaka proving to be the stronger, and scoring a final day win by yoritaoshi. Both end Aki 9-6.

Hoshoryu defeats Hokuseiho – Hoshoryu manages to reach kachi-koshi on the final day by toppling the Miyagino giant in a slow motion watashikomi. Had I been at the Kokugikan, I would have shouted “TIMBEERRRRR!”. Hoshoryu needs to get his sumo in working order, as beating an M11 on the final day for your kachi-koshi is not how this is supposed to work. But he did get the job done. He ends Aki 8-7.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Takakeisho always beats Daieisho, but Daieisho gave him a great fight. Once Takakeisho is able to disrupt Daieisho’s attack pattern, he gets Daieisho turned and shoves him out by okuridashi. Takakeisho ends Aki 11-4 and qualifies for the yusho playoff.

Kirishima defeats Takayasu – Takayasu’s sumo looked good today, he just did not have the balance to maintain his footing when Kirishima was able to land lateral thrusts. I note that Kirishima also kept his feet closer to the clay, where we saw Takayasu with more vertical steps. Once Takayasu was off balance, a thrust to the side finished him by hikiotoshi, giving Kirishima a final day win and a score of 9-6.

Yusho Playoff

Takakeisho defeats Atamifuji – Takakeisho henka! Not sure that was what anyone was hoping for, and it kind of left a foul odor to end this tournament. But he did win it in somewhat inglorious style. Perhaps he was hurt in that match with Daieisho. We will likely never know. Takakeisho wins his 4th title, and sets up his second chance at Yokozuna this year.

With that, dear readers, we end our daily coverage of the Aki basho for 2023. It has been a treat and a pleasure to bring you previews and highlights this September. Please follow Tachiai on the run up to the final basho of the year, coming in November. I will have a few things to say about sumo, it’s fans and this site before I sign off in the coming days. Thank you for spending Aki with us, we appreciate all of you who take the time to read our site, and to comment on our content. See you again soon!

Aki Day 15 Preview

My thanks to Tachiai blog creator Andy, who filled in for the day 14 highlights. What a day of sumo it was indeed. We are left with only 5 rikishi with 7-7 “Darwin” scores, so we get 2 head to head Darwin matches for today. Not a cornucopia that I had hoped for, but enough to underscore the zero sum nature of the sport. Of course one of the participants is Shodai, the ultimate 7-7 rikishi. I also note that Hokutofuji scored his 8th win a couple of days ago, robbing us of “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, which is sometimes his forte.

The Emperor’s Cup will be decided in the second half of today’s torikumi. Right now, Atamifuji controls his outcome. He is matched against Asanoyama, and should he win, he takes home the hardware. Sadly no balloons drop from the tsuriyane (the dohyo’s roof), but by golly, there should be!

If Asanoyama can stop navel gazing for a few minutes, he should be able to get into “that pose” and simply summon the power of the ancients to banish Atamifuji from the dohyo. But it has been years since we saw him do anything like that. Asanoyama, just go back to being the guy who was happy to be doing sumo every day, who always looked like he was having a great time no matter the outcome. That’s why you succeeded in the past.

Ok, should Asanoyama pull it off, it could be as many as 4 people battling for the cup. Including (checks notes) Hokuseiho? What fresh catnip for the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan is this? Note to readers, should somehow Hokuseiho take home the cup, I will in fact eat both my own buttocks.

Aki Leaderboard

Don’t worry, my ample rear end is safe from the frying pan. Here are the possible participants, though some of them face off head to head.

Leaders: Atamifuji
Chasers: Takakeisho, Daieisho, Takayasu, Hokuseiho

Maximum case comes if Atamifuji loses to Asanoyama, then the winner of the Takakeisho vs Daieisho match will be in a playoff after regulation, plus possibly Takayasu, and maybe some pylon for the new football stadium in a mawashi named Hokuseiho.

1 Match Remains

What We Are Watching Day 15

Mitakeumi (9-5) vs Nishikifuji (4-10) – Earlier in the basho, one of the commentators on NHK remarked how far Mitakeumi had fallen that he can now be the first match of the day. It seems like a bit of a gratuitous kick in the jimmies then, and here they did it again. Most likely a Mitakeumi win, with double-digit bonus score if he does.

Kotoshoho (5-9) vs Endo (8-6) – Well, someone had to fight Kotoshoho, so Endo gets the job. Endo is already kachi-koshi, and Kotoshoho is one loss away from double digits. Can you guess what happens next? Endo has won the last two matches against Kotoshoho.

Kinbozan (9-5) vs Myogiryu (9-5) – A fight to see who gets a double digit winning record. They only have one prior match, on day 2 of Nagoya, and it went to Kinbozan by yoritaoshi. Given how well Myogiryu has been fighting, I think there is a good chance he will take this match from Kinbozan.

Midorifuji (9-5) vs Aoiyama (5-9) – Midorifuji has a 3-1 career record against the injured and faltering Aoiyama. A loss for him today would be double digits, and may send him into the queue to join the Juryo barge of the damed. One last chance for a katasukashi, served with a dollop of sour cream, I would guess.

Kagayaki (4-10) vs Oho (5-9) – Kagayaki has already stowed his akeni aboard the afore mentioned Juryo barge, and now he gets a chance to welcome Oho to the double digit loss club. Clearly Oho’s sumo is in shambles right now, and he needs a few weeks to get himself back in line. He has a 4-2 record against Kagayaki, including their most recent match: Day 1 of Natsu.

Chiyoshoma (2-12) vs Ryuden (6-8) – Chiyoshoma is Juryo bound as well, but Ryuden has a shot to soften his make-koshi to a mild 7-8 with a win today. I think the coming November banzuke will be the first time in a long time with no Kokonoe rikishi in the top division. Don’t be surprised to read stories next week of a rampaging zombie of Chiyonofuji tearing it up at the heya to whip these guys into shape.

Onosho (8-6) vs Tsurugisho (8-6) – Both kachi-koshi, both with solid performaces this tournament, and one final match to see who gets to end the month 9-6. They have a nearly even 6-7 record, with Tsurugisho winning the last 4 in a row, mostly by pull down or thrust down. Can that be any surprise when the opponent is Onosho?

Sadanoumi (7-7) vs Shonannoumi (7-7) – First of our Darwin matches, where we find out which of our S*noumi rikishi have what it takes to finish out the tournament with a kachi-koshi. They have never fought before, so this one is a wide open mystery.

Takanosho (5-9) vs Daishoho (3-11) – The captain of the Juryo barge of the damed, Daishoho, will have the opportunity to leave the top division with a win. Should he prevail against Takanosho, he would drop him to a double digit make-koshi loss. He has a 7-3 career record against Takanosho, but may be too banged up right now for that to matter.

Hiradoumi (5-9) vs Tamawashi (2-12) – Regardless of how this one ends, just finishing the tournament will be an achievement for Tamawasih. Fifteen days of what may have been painful sumo, he can finally focus on getting his body ready for Kyushu. He has beaten Hiradoumi in both their prior matches, but may not be physically able to extend that to 3-0 today.

Shodai (7-7) vs Takarafuji (7-7) – The second of our Darwin matches, and it’s not looking good for Takarafuji. He has only won 3 times in 20 matches against Shodai, who seems to really enjoy using the “Wall of Daikon” on Takarafuji. Winner is kachi-koshi, loser is make-koshi.

Atamifuji (11-3) vs Asanoyama (8-6) – Hopefully you took the half time break to bring an entire bottle of sake over to where you are watching sumo, as this is where it gets crazy. First ever match between yusho race leader Atamifuji, and former Ozeki Asanoyama. Trust me when I say that Asanoyama has already figured out 5 different ways he can lose this match, and is worried to death about all of them. The kami that propelled him to Ozeki is feeling abandoned, and is down at the spiritual izakaya black out drunk, picking fights with the local Sumida-ku yokai, waiting for the “Seven Wonders of Honjo” to show up. Will the kami get its ass handed to it by “The Procession of the Tanuki“? or will it make it to the Kokugikan to give Asanoyama the fighting energy he needs to open this yusho race wide?

Kotoeko (6-8) vs Meisei (6-8) – Both are already make-koshi, so this is to see who gets the more gentle slide down the banzuke for November. Kotoeko holds an 11-6 career advantage, though I think Meisei has been fighting much better this month.

Hokutofuji (8-6) vs Abi (8-6) – Both men have 8 wins and are already kachi-koshi. But strongly feel the Abi needs to have a henka revenge satisfying loss before this basho is over, and who better to supply that than Hokutofuji? Unfortunately the career record of 8-5 favors Abi, so this may not come to pass.

Gonoyama (8-6) vs Tobizaru (6-8) – Another first ever match for shin-Goeido, who has done a solid job by reaching kachi-koshi for his first visit to the joi-jin. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to be one to watch. Sadly, Tobizaru lost a couple of matches he could have won, and will have to settle with at least 8 losses for September. He had key wins against Takakeisho and Hoshoryu, and I am looking forward to him continuing to harass the top rankers in Kyushu.

Nishikigi (5-9) vs Ura (8-6) – We wave a fond farewell to one of sumo’s nice guys, who managed to finally be ranked in the san’yaku rather late in his career. By the second week, everyone had a solution for his battle hug, and he was no longer a threat. He may lose this match today, as Ura tends to make Nishikigi the unfortunate target of “tug and pull” sumo. Ura had a 5-2 career advantage.

Kotonowaka (8-6) vs Wakamotoharu (9-5) – Both of them are kachi-koshi, both of them are going to ranked in the exact same spot for November, so this is just for the joy of sumo. I would like to see Wakamotoharu hit double digits and start an Ozeki run, but Kotonowaka leads the series 6-4.

Hokuseiho (10-4) vs Hoshoryu (7-7) – Imagine the final day torikumi comes out, and you need one more win to save face and not be kadoban your first tournament as an Ozeki. Your opponet is ranked Maegashira 11, awesome! Your opponent works as a structural component of one of TEPCO’s largest hydro-electoral projects in the off-season, damn! They have one prior match, Natsu day 12 where Hoshoryu won by okuridashi. I don’t think there is a huge chance that Hokuseiho will win this one, but if he does, make sure you have that bottle of sake close at hand.

Daieisho (10-4) vs Takakeisho (10-4) – One of these two gets to challenge for the cup if Asanoyama can stop feeling sorry for his self and beat up the newbie. Oh blast, what are the odds of that? Anyhow, what a great idea to have these two friends battle it out for a chance to compete for the cup. Both are 10-4, but Takakeisho has a 17-6 career lead, plus he has been fighting well, plus plus, he’s the “Grand Tadpole” ’nuff said.

Kirishima (8-6) vs Takayasu (10-4) – The final match of the tournament will feature Takayasu maybe just maybe having a narrow shot at also competing for the yusho if Asanoyama can do what he needs to do. As a long suffering fan of sumo’s most hirsute top division fighter, I know full well not to expect much, especially if his back is once again boogered up (which rumors in the Japanese press seem to indciate). Frankly I am just happy that Kirishima has cleared kadoban, the rest of bonus.

Aki Day 14 Preview

It’s time to look ahead to the final weekend. With two days to go, we are about to decide who gets the Emperor’s Cup and takes home the yusho. Will it be a 4th yusho for Ozeki Takakeisho? A Cinderella story win for Maegashira 15 Atamifuji, taking the cup in his first top division tournament after winning the Juryo yusho in July? Or will we get a surprise on the final day, such as a come from behind victory by perennial runner-up Takayasu? I give credit to the schedulers, most of these possibilities are surprisingly plausible right now, but the final form will be evident by the end of day 14’s action.

It also looks like we could have a brace of Darwin matches loaded up and ready to go, with 11 rikishi having 7-6 / 6-7 scores prior to Saturday’s action on the dohyo.

Aki Leaderboard

Both leaders have difficult matches today, Takayasu having the easiest route of the chasers. We can be certain now that the yusho winning score will be no higher than 12-3, and possibly even 11-4.

Leaders: Atamifuji, Takakeisho
Chasers: Daieisho, Takayasu, Kinbozan, Hokuseiho

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Myogiryu (8-5) vs Chiyoshoma (2-11) – I am going to guess this one is to help donate a win to Myogiryu for some reason, as Chiyoshoma is ready for dry dock to have the sumo equivalent of his barnacles scraped off. They have a close 7-8 career record, but Chiyoshoma is in no condition to put up too much of a fight .

Takarafuji (6-7) vs Kagayaki (4-9) – Takarafuji needs to win today in order to see if he can get a final win on Sunday. Should he best the flagging Kagayaki, he will end the day at 7-7 and be eligible for a Darwin match on Sunday. they share a 13-7 career record.

Tsurugisho (8-5) vs Hokuseiho (9-4) – Both are already kachi-koshi, they share an even 1-1 match history, and this is really about seeing who ranks where in November. Tsurugisho has lost the last 2 in a row, Hokuseiho has now won 7 straight.

Midorifuji (8-5) vs Daishoho (3-10) – Two people get to fight Daishoho on his way out the door back to Juryo, and Midorifuji is one of them. This is really not much of a contest today, in spite of their even 3-3 career match record.

Kotoeko (6-7) vs Aoiyama (4-9) – This may look like another low interest match, but I think what we have here is Aoiyama trying to get another win to save his spot somewhere at the bottom of the top division November banzuke. Against that we have Kotoeko who needs 2 more wins on the final 2 days to reach kachi-koshi. They share a 7-7 career record, and I think it will all come down to Aoiyama being able to find enough endurance to work through the pain to deliver power forward.

Nishikifuji (4-9) vs Hiradoumi (4-9) – Both have matching make-koshi 4-9 records, and both are facing substantial demotions for November. They have each won a single match against the other this year.

Kotoshoho (5-8) vs Ryuden (5-8) – Another pair with matching losing records, and another effort to sort them out for the November banzuke. I think for September, Ryuden is fighting better than Kotoshoho, so I give him an edge today.

Endo (8-5) vs Shonannoumi (6-7) – Shonannoumi lost their only prior match, but he needs to find a win today or face make-koshi. Shonannoumi’s ranked high enough he is at no risk of being relegated back to Juryo, but it’s still better to get your 8 wins than not. Their prior match was day 3 of Nagoya, where Endo won by yorikiri.

Takanosho (5-8) vs Sadanoumi (6-7) – Takanosho is already make-koshi, and Sadanoumi needs to win his final 2 to reach 8. They have an 11 match history that favors Sadanoumi 7-4, with Sadanoumi winning the last 4 in a row – going back to Osaka 2022.

Oho (4-9) vs Tamawashi (2-11) – I will defer to lksumo’s prognosis, but I am going to guess that with 2 wins, Tamawashi is out of any consideration for demotion to Juryo. But I would still be quite interested to see if he can summon enough energy to defeat the already make-koshi Oho today. Their only prior match was day 3 of Nagoya, and went to Tamawashi by hatakikomi.

Abi (8-5) vs Atamifuji (10-3) – I would label this a tough match for Atamifuji. I know he fought Ichiyamamoto once, at Kyushu last year, and lost on day 2 by hatakikomi, which is useful if we consider Ichiyamamoto a miniature Abi (which we should). I also worry that his losses facing the “big guys” has dented his fighting spirit, and he’s lost some of the confidence we say up to day 10. Fingers crossed we see something big from Atamifuji today.

Shodai (6-7) vs Asanoyama (8-5) – Asanoyama is safely kachi-koshi, and I am hoping that we get to see some big time cartoon sumo out of Shodai today. They have a 12 match history that favors Asanoyama 8-4, with Asanoyama taking the last 4 in a row. Don’t dismiss this one just because it’s Shodai.

Hokutofuji (8-5) vs Ura (7-6) – Hokutofuji played the expert spoiler on day 13, knocking Takayasu out of immediate contention for the cup. Now a tough match for him. he has faced Ura 12 times, and only won twice. We know Hokutofuji loves his nodowa, maybe we will get to see Ura unleash his “death grip” again today in response? I can only hope. An Ura win today would be kachi-koshi for him.

Gonoyama (7-6) vs Meisei (6-7) – In the day 13 highlights, I mentioned that the should give Gonoyama a “gimmie” match to make sure he does not need to beat san’yaku to make kachi-koshi. Maybe this counts? Meisei is M1W, maybe that’s good enough. A Gonoyama win today would be kachi-koshi for him, and make-koshi for Meisei. A Meisei win and they are both 7-7 and eligible for a Darwin match on Sunday.

Nishikigi (5-8) vs Mitakeumi (8-5) – The two have mirror scores, and we know that with his make-koshi, Nishikigi will be exiting the named ranks. Thus ends his second “magical mystery tour”, and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. A late bloomer, but he did indeed bloom well. Mitakeumi holds a 6-3 career lead, and given the quality of his sumo this September, should be able to dispatch Nishikigi today.

Takayasu (9-4) vs Tobizaru (6-7) – My congratulations to the schedulers for putting so many consequences into today’s matches. It gives everyone a lot to cheer for, and the rikishi a lot to fight for. Takayasu needs a win to keep any spark of vying for the cup alive, Tobizaru needs a win to avoid make-koshi. This one could be quite good as there will be a high energy clash of sumo styles for this match.

Kotonowaka (7-6) vs Kinbozan (9-4) – Kotonowaka needs to win over red-hot Kinbozan to try and reach 8 today, or face a final day starting score of 7-7. He won their only prior match, on day 13 of Natsu, by yorikiri. This one is likewise a potentially high energy match.

Onosho (8-5) vs Wakamotoharu (8-5) – Both are already kachi-koshi, and with Daieisho holding on to Sekiwake East, this is really only about Onosho’s rank in November. He’s won two of their 3 prior matches, with an oshidashi on day 10 of Nagoya being their most recent fight.

Kirishima (8-5) vs Daieisho (9-4) – There is not really anything other than a white star and a pile of kensho on the line for this match, but maybe that’s enough. Kirishima has cleared kadoban, and may want to run up the score. They have a 8-6 career record on the clay, with Kirishima taking the last 4 in a row.

Hoshoryu (6-7) vs Takakeisho (10-3) – Some high stakes for the final match of the day, well done schedulers! Hoshoryu needs a win to avoid the loss of face that comes from going kadoban your first tournament as an Ozeki. Takakeisho needs a win to move a step closer to his 4th yusho. He has a 7-2 career record against Hoshoryu, who will likely pin his hopes for a win by getting a hold on Takakeisho’s mawashi. Takakeisho has won the last 2 in a row.

Aki Day 13 Highlights

A huge day in the progression of the basho, 7 rikishi win their kachi-koshi, the sole leader meets his first Ozeki, and the leaderboard evens up. There were consequential matches up and down the torikumi, and the stage is set for the final weekend, and the conclusion of the yusho race.

Highlight Matches

Takarafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma came in early, but in his opening combo it was clear he was brining little if any forward power to his sumo. Takarafuji decided this was the case half a second before Chiyoshoma attempted a pulling move, which triggered a Takarafuji oshidashi that ended the match. Takarafuji now 6-7, and still on course for a Darwin match.

Endo defeats Nishikifuji – Endo gets his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for September. Nishikifuji went for a pulling move quite early, and surrendered the match to Endo by oshidashi. Endo is now 8-5.

Midorifuji defeats Kotoshoho – Excellent early thrusting battle for both men, the match nearly was decided when Kotoshoho grabbed Midorifuji’s arm and swung him Harumafuji style. Kotoshoho was throwing everything he could muster or dream up into this match, but eventually Midorifuji grappled him, and stood him up in the center of the dohyo. Taking his time Midorifuji worked his left hand deeper until he was able to load up a sukuinage that brought Kotoshoho to the clay. The match ended with Midorifuji kachi-koshi at 8-5, and Kotoshoho make-koshi at 5-8.

Aoiyama defeats Hiradoumi – It’s a rare day this September where we get to see Aoiyama win with his traditional V-Twin attack. Hiradoumi absorbed it as best he could, but it left him discombobulated for the resulting hatakikomi that took him out of the match. Both end the day 4-9.

Kotoeko defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki can only manage a couple of glancing hits on Kotoeko’s face before he is bodily removed from the ring by yorikiri. He sinks deeper into make-koshi with 4-9 as Kotoeko staves off his 8th loss at 6-7.

Sadanoumi defeats Oho – Oho makes a major mistake at the tachiai, attacking Sadanoumi’s face while not putting any effort into defending his belt. Sadanoumi sets up a strong grip and proceeds to bundle Oho out in short order by yorikiri. Sadanoumi improves to 6-7.

Myogiryu defeats Ryuden – Myogiryu does a brilliant job of disrupting and shutting down Ryuden’s opening combo. The results was a Myogiryu right hand outsde hold, and effective control of the match. Ryuden did a masterful job of fighting back, but was too upright, and could not break Myogiryu’ grip. A culminating forward rush by Myogiryu sent Ryuden out by yorikiri, giving Myogiryu his 8th win, and kachi-koshi for Aki. Ryuden suffers his 8th loss and is make-koshi at 5-8.

Kinbozan defeats Shonannoumi – Shonannoumi had zero sumo moves today. He caught Kinbozan’s tachiai at full force, and then decided his only choice was to grab Kinbozan’s neck and pull. No forward power or pressure, he was out three steps later. Kinbozan advances to 9-4.

Hokuseiho defeats Takanosho – Credit to Takanosho, he put a bunch of power up front into Hokuseiho. But how is that going to effect a 2 meter tall piece of Hokkaido concrete? Simply put, it isn’t. Hokuseiho grabs Takanosho and thrusts him to the clay. Hokuseiho improves to 9-4, Takanosho now make-koshi at 5-8.

Tamawashi defeats Daishoho – I have to assume that with 11 losses, Tamawashi’s body is absolute hell right now. But now he has managed to win 2 in a row. Not sure how it makes you feel, but as a guy, I have an overflowing well of respect that he steels himself daily and gives it his all. Tamawashi is now 2-11.

Asanoyama defeats Mitakeumi – Fantastic classic rematch, and a true battle of sumo styles. Mitakeumi gets early advantage, but Asanoyama managed to get his left hand on Mitakeumi’s belt. That was all he needed to turn the tables on our Original Tadpole, and Mitakeumi hits the exit via yorikiri. Both end the day 8-5 as Asanoyama reaches kachi-koshi.

Ura defeats Meisei – Fantastic, textbook tsuki-oshi work from Meisei, and all Ura could do for most of the match was defend. But as always he was looking for a stray finger or wrist to grab and tug. Then something flips, out comes Ura’s left hand, which we know is strong enough to break grip strength meters, and latches onto Meisei’s throat. After about 5 seconds of that, you can see Meisei’s expression read “ok, you can stop that!” as the right hand comes up and delivers a thundering tsukiotoshi. I am not sure I have seen Ura employ a nodowa in quite some time. I bet that leaves a mark, he is now 7-6.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu – For long time Takayasu fans, it’s more of the same. With our hairy hero almost in sight of ultimate victory, he stumbles yet again. It’s like that boss level in Final Fantasy that requires some wacky 7 finger button combo to win that you just can’t make happen, Takayasu’s SD card is full of saved games exactly at this encounter. Takayasu starts the match well, but Hokutofuji is able to turn Takayasu, get behind, and run him out by okuridashi. That’s kachi-koshi for Hokutofuji, and he is 8-5.

Tobizaru defeats Onosho – Brilliant defense from Tobizaru, and I must remark that regardless of his score, how much his sumo has progressed. His early form was almost totally offense, but as has been demonstrated in his week 2 matches, he’s improved his sumo when defending as well. He blunts nearly every Onosho volley, and waits for Onosho to get too far over his toes. Given that this is Onosho, it’s just a question of being ready when he does it. Tobizaru is ready, and delivers a tsukiotoshi, but does not miss a chance to go three rows back and mingle with his fans. The win improves improves his score to 6-7.

Shodai defeats Nishikigi – Aww, I sort of wanted to see Nishikigi hold rank in the san’yaku. At the moment Nishikigi got his battle hug started, Shodai gave us a bit of the old “Wall of Daikon” and bodily rammed Nishikigi out. Shodai is now 6-7, and in my opinion headed for a Darwin match on Sunday.

Kotonowaka defeats Abi – Kotonowaka keeps his feet and keeps his balance centered as Abi-zumo fails to disrupt his forward push. That is no easy task. Kotonowaka is now 7-6.

Wakamotoharu defeats Tsurugisho – You see, I am not really good with this “jam the M16 into the san’yaku” arc we just witnessed. Sure, Tsurugisho was having a good run, but this was, in my opinion, gratuitous. Wakamotoharu seldom gets to grapple with someone that large, so I guess it was interesting for him, plus a bonus bloody nose. Wakamotoharu picks up his 8th win and is kachi-koshi at 8-5.

Daieisho defeats Gonoyama – I like that Gonoyama was able to withstand a full power Daieisho facial for a solid 20 seconds. He only really got in trouble during the pulling phase of the combo, with Daieisho really pouring in the power both forward and reverse. To me this speaks highly of Gonoyama’s potential to beat these guys with a bit more time to work on his skills. Daieisho wins, and is headed for double digits at 9-4. I hope they give the G-man a creampuff match in the last 2 days to let him get his 8.

Takakeisho defeats Atamifuji – I have mountains of respect for Atamifuji mounting the dohyo and putting up a bold and vigorous fight in his first match against an Ozeki. This guy is near the bottom of the banzuke, and if he were not a yusho leader, would not have ever been in consideration for this kind of fight. I also have to recognize that Takakeisho opened with a probing attack, and never did get to full power wave action volleys. They simply were not needed. He got his stubby arms around Atamifuji and walked him out for a yorikiri. Both are now tied for the lead at 10-3.

Kirishima defeats Hoshoryu – Top tier evasive work from Kirishima at the tachiai to set up his left hand outside grip. Hoshoryu never really had any offense in this match, and was simply ballast for the resulting uwatenage. Kirishima now kachi-koshi at 8-5, clearing kadoban.