Aki Day 7 Highlights

The Landscape

In this odd tournament with few fans and no yokozuna, there have been few rikishi stepping up to take the mantle. As we head into the middle weekend, everyone has found the dirt at least once. There’s no obvious front-runner. All of those prospective Ozeki runs rest on a razor’s edge while several rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke find themselves at the top of the table.

Today offers us fans a study in pulling techniques: when to try, and when not to. For those who are beyond such a base strategy, though, today’s action did provide a few choice moments of great sumo and a bit of drama. Read to the end. It’s worth it.

Highlights

Kotoyuki defeated Shohozan (0-7): You know things are going poorly for Shohozan when he henkas Juryo visitor, Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki was unfazed and bludgeoned Shohozan repeatedly in outrage, driving Shohozan back to the edge, where Shohozan fell forward. Hikiotoshi.

Meisei (4-3) defeated Ichinojo (4-3): Ichinojo never got his feet planted as Meisei drove forward with a strong tachiai, driving Ichinojo back and out. Ichinojo was way too high at the initial charge and tried to envelope Meisei’s arms for a kimedashi but that just handed Meisei a strong morozashi, with momentum and superior position. Yorikiri.

Shimanoumi (4-3) defeated Kaisei (2-5): Shimanoumi patiently waited out Kaisei’s fumbling. After a nice initial charge, Kaisei fumbled with his right hand for a belt grip. Shimanoumi shoved Kaisei off but Kaisei moved in again for a belt grip. Shimanoumi pushed Kaisei’s hand away and drove forward, putting Kaisei in retreat and gaining some separation. As Kaisei reached the edge, Shimanoumi pivoted and Kaisei stumbled forward. Shimanoumi re-engaged from below and with Kaisei standing upright at the tawara, it was all over. Oshidashi.

Kotoshoho (6-1) defeated Hoshoryu (3-4): Kotoshoho’s perfect pull was decisive as Hoshoryu fell first. No mono-ii. Hoshoryu was puzzled as to how he lost but Kotoshoho’s initial charge drove Hoshoryu back just enough to give him space to execute the hated pull. His hand, firmly on Hoshoryu’s head and feet planted firmly in the tawara, Kotoshoho guided Hoshoryu to the ground without stepping out. Tsukiotoshi.

Tobizaru (6-1) defeated Chiyotairyu (5-2): The tachiai descended into a wild brawl of charging and slapping. Tobizaru dove for Chiyotairyu’s mawashi and secured a right-handed belt grip. With the left on Chiyotairyu’s top-knot, he twisted and threw Sumo’s Elvis to the floor. Shitatedashinage.

Kotoshogiku (2-2-3) defeated Enho (1-6): Kotoshogiku wrangled the struggling Enho in the middle of the dohyo. Enho secured a belt grip at the tachiai and tried to drive forward but Kotoshogiku just dropped all of his weight down on Enho, forcing the pixie’s knee to buckle awkwardly. Koshikudake.

I’m a bit worried about the way that right knee twisted, but Enho seemed to walk it off. I’ve always wondered what it would look like if someone decided to squish Enho. Now we know. If Giku can squeak out three more wins, he may just save his rank. Enho, on the other hand, may join Ishiura in Juryo unless he can turn things around quickly. Perhaps fortunate for both men, there appears to be more men ready to flee makuuchi for the safety of Juryo than there are eager promotees.

Wakatakakage (5-2) defeated Kotoeko (3-4): Wakatakakage henka’d Kotoeko. He tried to pull Kotoeko down for the hatakikomi but Kotoeko kept his footing. However, Kotoeko seemed perplexed as to how to attack this man who moved over so suddenly. While Kotoeko tried to figure things out, Wakatakakage charged forward and blasted Kotoeko off the back of the dohyo. Oshidashi.

Ryuden (3-4) defeated Sadanoumi (2-5): Ryuden was having none of Sadanoumi’s pulling. He charged forward steadily as Sadanoumi circled in retreat. Ryuden kept up with Sadanoumi and his shove forced Sadanoumi to lose his footing and fall to the clay. Oshitaoshi.

Kagayaki (5-2) defeated Onosho (5-2): Bruce’s worries about an Onosho slump are well founded. Kagayaki got the jump on the tachiai, forcing Onosho back. But Onosho rallied at the tawara, driving forward into Kagayaki. However, as the back-pedaling Kagayaki neared the edge he drove his left arm forcefully into Onosho’s right side, throwing Onosho to the clay. Tsukiotoshi.

Takayasu (5-2), no, wait, Aoiyama defeated Aoiyama (3-4): Big Dan stepped out. This is the ultimate, sad danger of the pull when you step back too far and lose. Aoiyama absorbed Takayasu’s tachiai and pulled backwards. Takayasu’s forward charge wasn’t particularly strong and should have been easily defeated. But Aoiyama’s big left foot had gone over the bales. Oshidashi.

Halftime

Takarafuji (5-2) defeated Tokushoryu (1-6): Bruce is right, Tokushoryu’s out of ideas. Tokushoryu’s entire game plan was to pull. After a decent tachiai, he gave it his first attempt for hatakikomi but Takarafuji was not falling for it. This yielded position and forced Tokushoryu back to the edge. Uncle Takara reached in for a firm right-hand grip. As Tokushoryu pulled again, Takarafuji drove forward and Tokushoryu rolled over. Yoritaoshi.

Kiribayama (5-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-5): Kiribayama sidestepped the tachiai. No bother, Hokutofuji drove forward into Kiribayama. Kiribayama’s twisted at the edge and with his left hand on the mawashi and right arm in Hokutofuji’s side, he threw Hokutofuji down.  Sukuinage.

Takanosho (4-3) defeated Myogiryu (3-4): Takanosho weathered Myogiryu’s nodowa, and drove forward. Myogiryu launched for a belt grab but Takanosho deflected him with the right arm. This gave Takanosho the advantage as he came at Myogiryu’s right side and shoved Myogiryu out. Oshidashi.

Sanyaku

Terunofuji (5-2) defeated Endo (3-4): Ready for a brawl, right? LOL. Migi-yotsu vs Hidari-yotsu. I gotta say, I was ready for a great belt battle but Terunofuji had other plans and, “Wow”. Terunofuji wrapped up Endo’s arm, spun him around and cast him from the dohyo in the blink of an eye. It was brilliant!

At the tachiai, Terunofuji had his sights on that right arm of Endo. He came up with his right, immediately, ensnaring Endo’s arm. Once he secured it, he shifted to his right, twisting Endo around, still holding Endo’s arm behind him. While Endo’s still trying to figure out why he’s facing the wrong way, Terunofuji propelled him forward, off the ring and halfway back to Saitama. Okuridashi.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Isegahama had a higher goal in mind for Terunofuji…not just a return to Ozeki. He’d be able to rest his knees on occasion with a nice tsuna, that’s for sure. I think this is the first time that I’m taken aback more so by the brilliant tactics than his brute force. This was no sea monster, meting destruction. This was Dr. Kaiju, dissecting his opponent and flaying him for all to see. In the 9 second clip, half of it is Endo running down the aisle. The bout itself was over in three seconds.

Tochinoshin (3-4) defeated Daieisho (2-5): I’m pretty sure I saw the kitchen sink get thrown across the screen during this bout. Watch for it on the replay. What didn’t we have in this bout? We had a bit of oshi/tsuki and a bit of yotsu. This was a rough-and-tumble brawl as both men tried to out-pull each other. It seemed that since both men had the same game plan, neither of them were falling for it. Tochinoshin delivered several great blows as he showed he can do tsuppari quite well. Though his knee is weakened, his stamina is strong. When Daieisho tired, Tochinoshin was finally able to step in for that belt grip and usher the Oitekaze’s faltering hope over the straw bales. Yorikiri.

Tamawashi (3-4) defeated Mitakeumi (4-3): Tamawashi may have ended Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run. Mitake who-me? Why in the hell would Mitakeumi try a hatakikomi pull from his own side of the ring? Why? Tamawashi met Mitakeumi with a solid tachiai and drove forward, forcing Mitakeumi back deep into his own side of the dohyo. Mitakeumi did charge forward and try to get some separation but he had nowhere near the space required for a pull, so he ended up cast off among the empty purple squares. Oshidashi.

Okinoumi (2-5) defeated Shodai (5-2): Shodai drove forward into Okinoumi. Okinoumi resisted at the edge and circled back. While Shodai applied forward pressure, Okinoumi wrapped his arms around Shodai, twisted and thrust him to the floor, along with any hopes of yusho or promotion. Tsukiotoshi.

Takakeisho (6-1) defeated Yutakayama: T-Rex’s wave action was too much for Yutakayama. Both oshi-battlers fought to their strength but Yutakayama’s thrusts were unable to move Takakeisho at all. Takakeisho, however, was able to move Yutakayama around the ring, almost at will. “You go right now. Now backwards. Now down.” Oshidashi.

Yutakayama’s knee buckled awkwardly at the tawara so we’ll be watching that tomorrow. He kept it extended as he sat to watch the next bout and when he finally got up to walk back to the shitakubeya, he limped down the hanamichi. Watch this space for a kyujo. Takakeisho is now the favorite for the yusho, especially since he has already faced, and defeated, Terunofuji.

Asanoyama (4-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (2-5): “Not again!” Terutsuyoshi went for the ashitori — again — but Asanoyama was prepared this time. When the attempt missed, Terutsuyoshi retreated and jumped off the dohyo with Asanoyama close in pursuit. Asanoyama connected with a bit of a push so it counts as oshidashi rather than what it looked like at the time, niwatori-tobikomi.

Aki Day 7 Preview

Welcome to the middle weekend of the Aki basho. It’s going to be a wild ride all the way to the end. With both Yokozuna out, and no single rikishi dominating the dohyo yet, the race for the cup is wide open. starting day 7, we have 6 competitors at 5-1, and a further 8 at 4-2! That’s a broad field of brutes looking to head home with the hardware, and frankly it’s time to stock the fridge, open a bottle of your favorite stuff, and watch some fine sumo!

What We Are Watching Day 7

Kotoyuki vs Shohozan – Well, this is a bit of a dismal start. A flagging Shohozan fights against sumo’s own penguin, Kotoyuki. I hope that Shohozan can eventually get his first win, but I don’t think its likely to be today, as Kotoyuki is actually fighting well.

Meisei vs Ichinojo – Nearly 70 kg difference between these two is the first thing that comes to mind. They have split the prior 2 matches but Ichinojo looks a bit more genki than normal, and it’s going to be tough for Meisei to move him if he gets his feet planted.

Shimanoumi vs Kaisei – If Shimanoumi can get a grab at the tachiai, he will likely take this match. There is quite a bit of Kaisei to reach around to get to mawashi-land, and if he’s mobile again today, it’s akin to stopping a wildebeest with a soup spoon.

Kotoshoho vs Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu is riding the make/kachi-koshi line, and could really use a spare win to protect him in week 2. He has fairly long odds on day 7, as he has yet to pick up a win against Kotoshoho. Much as I look forward to Hoshoryu’s future in the top division, it may be a bit early for him to stay.

Chiyotairyu vs Tobizaru – Time to narrow the leader board! A pair of 5-1 face off in a tremendous clash of styles. This lighter, fast Chiyotairyu is a real joy to watch, and he’s going to try to obliterate Tobizaru in the first 5 seconds. The task for our flying monkey – keep his feet under the cannon-ball tachiai. This is their first time match, and the winner will keep pace with the leader group.

Enho vs Kotoshogiku – Ok, who thought this was a good idea? Kotoshogiku’s kyujo cert mandates 2 weeks rest. I guess he is trying to rescue his tenure in the top division, and I understand. But maybe it’s time for the Kyusho Bulldozer to call it a day.

Kotoeko vs Wakatakakage – This has all kinds of fun written up and down the sides in highly stylized characters. Kotoeko has a 4-0 career advantage over Wakatakakage. Mitigating that is that both seem to be past the ring-rust stage, and are fighting like fanatics. So let the blows fly, plant your feet and prepare for battle!

Ryuden vs Sadanoumi – I personally think that as Ryuden’s weight went up, his sumo went down. This is far too common in the top division, where it seems the minimal mass to not get tossed like a cork on an angry ocean is above 130kg. I note that Sadanoumi comes in around 130, and has stayed quick, while Ryuden is up around 145 now, and has slowed down.

Onosho vs Kagayaki – I worry. Onosho has proven to be fairly streaky, and I don’t want his day 6 loss to kick off a losing streak he will struggle to overcome. Kagayaki will give him a genuine challenge, as Onosho tends to be “kitchen sink” in his opening move, and Kagayaki is going to keep it simple and effective. It will be a race to see who gets their hands inside in this battle of thrusting rikishi.

Takayasu vs Aoiyama – A 21 match history that is almost even. Both are big, but Aoiyama is the man-moutain, and even Takayasu struggles to defeat him once Big Dan fires up the V-Twin. It’s down to the left hand. If Takayasu can get his left hand hold, he’s going to toss Aoiyama with gusto. But he will have the narrowest of windows to make it happen.

Tokushoryu vs Takarafuji – Tokushoryu; injured? exhausted? out of ideas? I would guess he is headed for make-koshi this September, but he should be safe from a trip back to Juryo.

Hokutofuji vs Kiribayama – I would prefer that Kiribayama help Hokutofuji work towards his 6th award of the “most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for Hokutofuji to get his sumo together. But it seems he has gone rather one dimensional, and decided to be satisfied with what that can bring him. I have to wonder if his pelvis got a say in that.

Myogiryu vs Takanosho – Hey, Takanosho! Time to return to being serious about your sumo. You are on a 2 match black star run, and you need to get it together. I know you are 2-0 against Myogiryu, but you looked pretty poor days 5 & 6.

Terunofuji vs Endo – Oh yeah! We have a nicely resurgent Terunofuji up against a hit or miss Endo, who has a 4-2 career advantage over the former Ozeki. We know Endo is going to have a sterling plan in that head of his to start the match, but will Terunofuji’s left hand find its mark?

Daieisho vs Tochinoshin – Ugh, Tochinoshin is making me sad these days. Maybe he can find something to throw into this match…

Tamawashi vs Mitakeumi – These two used to be regulars in the East and West named ranks. and they have a 23 prior matches to prove it. But the 21-2 imbalance in Mitakeumi’s favor tells the story. At 2 losses, the original tadpole needs to stay focused day to day, and keep winning. Will he fade going into week 2? Hell, I expect there to be train wrecks galore in the final week. Bring on the carnage!

Shodai vs Okinoumi – Oh look, two big, strong guys who don’t rush their tachiai. I am guessing a chest to chest match with Shodai showing some unexpected forward power, and Okinoumi pulling some fantastic move at the bales. A loss by Shodai would likely knock him off the leader board.

Yutakayama vs Takakeisho – Yutakayama is no more than at 80% of his ideal fighting power. In this condition he is easy meat for Takakeisho, and short of some surprise, I see the Grand Tadpole racking up win number 6.

Asanoyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Will we see more punk attitude out of Terutsuyoshi today? Or will Asanoyama give him a first class swirly in the public loo outside the Kokugikan? “Yes, Asanoyama-zeki! Will that be the sit-down or the squat version please?”

Aki Day 6 Highlights

A surprising leg kick, an expanded leader board, and one of the best henka shut-downs in a long time.

Highlight Matches

Shimanoumi defeats Ichinojo – Shimanoumi did a great job of standing up to Ichinojo, and key to that was an ill considered attempt to pull by Ichinojo early in the match that allowed Shimanoumi to get inside and underneath with his right. Thought Ichinojo had a solid left hand grip, Shimanoumi was able to convert that to his advantage and took the big Mongolian on a rough ride to a loss.

Tobizaru defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu took the tachiai, but his foot position was poor and could not move Tobizaru, who seems to have decided to open with defense. Hoshoryu obliged with blistering tsuppari, but still could not move Tobizaru. Tobizaru responded with a double hand shove which lifted Hoshoryu, and set up the thrust down that came a moment later. These two are going to be tossing each other around for the next few years, and that makes me quite happy.

Kotoshoho defeats Shohozan – Shohozan has no sumo. I don’t know where it went, but it’s gone. It was good to see him generate some offensive pressure against Kotoshoho, but Shohozan is not the fearsome force he was even a year ago.

Kaisei defeats Meisei – Kaisei was mobile today, and a tad aggressive for him. I don’t think that Meisei was being passive, but if Kaisei is moving forward, and stays in motion, you are going to need more mass than 1 Meisei Unit (MU) to effect him.

Kotoeko defeats Sadanoumi – I really like Kotoeko’s opening combo today. Sadanoumi applied more force, but Kotoeko got his right hand inside, and his left hand in good position. Sadanoumi quickly found that winning the tachiai left him in Kotoeko’s grip, and there was no chance to escape.

Chiyotairyu defeats Onosho – There was always going to be a first loss for Onosho, and it came at the hands of another power-front rikishi, Chiyotairyu. The two exchanged pre-bout matta, clearly they were trying to figure each other’s opening moves out. When they got underway, Chiyotairyu got his hands inside, and never gave up the inside lane to pushing hard on Onosho’s chest. Unable to get proper defensive footing, Onosho was unable to answer, and quickly exited the dohyo. He drops to 5-1, and the leader board broadens considerably.

Wakatakakage defeats Ryuden – Another matta exchange (this sure does get old fast) as the each tried to figure out the other one’s fight plan. Wakatakakage took control early, but could not finish Ryuden off, and Ryuden rallied. As Ryuden was driving forward, Wakatakakage manage to get to his left side, and the lateral attack proved succesful for Wakatakakage’s 4th win.

Takayasu defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu wanted a thrust down at the tachiai, Takayasu wanted a belt grip. Both men came up empty and had to settle for a chest to chest battle of strength. I had a moment of worry when Tokushoryu took Takayasu’s previously injured left arm and pulled it around his body. Takayasu escaped, and as Tokushoryu moved to re-engaged, he found himself slapped to the clay.

Kagayaki defeats Enho – Enho tachiai attempt to get underneath was only partially successful, and his grab at Kagayaki’s mawashi missed, leaving him low and vulnerable. Kagayaki attacked with gusto, and Enho never had another moment where he could generate any offense.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji wisely closed in to prevent Aoiyama from getting any kind of thrusting or bashing attack set up. Twice Aoiyama tried to twist and pull Takarafuji’s head down, but Takarafuji’s foot placement and balance were excellent. A 3rd pulling attempt from Aoiyama went nowhere, and you really have to be impressed by Takarafuji’s defense. Then came Aoiyama’s attempt at a leg kick, that was a gutsy move! Takarafuji advances, and Aoiyama delivers a sukuinage. Damn, that was impressive sumo from both.

Kiribayama defeats Tamawashi – I would call this the decade mirror match. We have the venerable Tamawashi facing off against his direct replacement Kiribayama. Let’s face it, these are more or less the same rikishi in a number of ways, about a decade apart. Tamawashi got some offensive thrusting in, and Kiribayama answered in kind.

Hokutofuji defeats Takanosho – All I can think of is that Takanosho got distracted. Maybe he was trying to focus on what he wanted to do following the tachiai? Hokutofuji hit hard, moved to his left and thrusted hard. Takanosho did not keep Hokutofuji in front of him, and was left with no defense to Hokutofuji’s lateral attack.

Terunofuji defeats Okinoumi – With Onosho’s loss, we know the yusho winner will have at least 1 loss. Terunofuji is fighting well, and it’s not outside of reasonable consideration that he might be in a position to contend for the yusho in week 2. Okinoumi got his favorite grip at the tachiai, but that left hand outside grip of Terunofuji, it just seems to be unstoppable right now.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – How the hell did this happen? A clean tachiai, with neither man getting their preferred starting grip. Mitakeumi just reaches up and pulls Endo down? There are days when I just wonder about Endo.

Shodai defeats Tochinoshin – This was a bit painful to watch. Tochinoshin attempts to reach for his favored left hand outside grip at the tachiai, nearly gets it, but finds that Shodai is already moving him back. Shodai never let up the pressure, and Tochinoshin was run out of the dohyo in reverse. Shodai maintains his share of the lead.

Daieisho defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama continues to struggle, and Daieisho looks to be setting in a bit now that act 1 is done. To my eye, Yutakayama can only apply partial force to the front, and this makes him much easier to move back than would normally be the case.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu – Might have been a candidate for a matta call, but Myogiryu’s early start gave him a left hand shallow grip, and stood Asanoyama upright at the tachiai. But both hands were outside, and Asanoyama had what he needed to attack. Realizing he had been stalemated, Myogiryu attempted a pull, and that was the moment the match was lost.

Takakeisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Oh what a match. Takakeisho’s really crummy and aggressive matta was designed to set Takakeisho up for a henka. The look on Takakeisho’s face is priceless, and easy to read, “Who do you think you are trying to fool here?”. Sure enough, a hit and shift from Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai, but Takakeisho was having none of it, and ejected Terutsuyoshi with prejudice. I counted 4 big shoves to send him flying over the edge. G’bye!

Aki Day 6 Preview

Welcome to the start of act 2 of this wonderful Aki Basho! Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. With both Yokozuna out, and no clearly dominant rikishi group, there’s a lot of sorting to do. Act 2 includes the middle weekend, when we will start to watch the yusho race and publish the leader board. Though Onosho exited Act 1 as the sole man at the top, I don’t expect that to hold for too long. There are a cadre of 7 rikishi trailing at 4-1, including Ozeki Takakeisho, Ur-Sekiwake Shodai and.. Ichinojo?

What We Are Watching Day 6

Shimanoumi vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo starts act 2 with a surprising 4-1 record, really one of his best starts in the top division in a long time. If he can stay in this groove, and can continue to use his size and strength to his advantage, he could be a contender in act 3. Today he’s up against Shimanoumi, who lost their only prior match. I am going to look for “The Boulder” to continue to over preform.

Tobizaru vs Hoshoryu – I know I have been waiting for this one! Now that Tobizaru has picked up his first loss, he can dodge any odd feelings of pressure about being on top of the leaderboard. He has a 3-1 career record over Hoshoryu, and I expect a lot of rapid action as these two strong, fast young rikishi engage in a battle of the flying hands.

Kotoshoho vs Shohozan – Shohozan has no real defensive power, I have to wonder if he has some back or leg problem that has robbed him of his sumo. So I am guessing that Kotoshoho takes him to the dirt in short order.

Meisei vs Kaisei – It seems like Kaisei’s enormity is not enough to get him him to even a 50% win record right now. So he’s going to have to try some offensive sumo. Forward sir! Meisei is a fraction of your size, make him feel like roadkill today.

Sadanoumi vs Kotoeko – Kotoeko looked really good against Tobizaru day 5, and I think he can try a similar approach with the speedy Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi will present lower mobility, but higher thrust force, in my opinion. Their career record (5-4) show them equally matched. Could be some raging action, or over in a flash.

Chiyotairyu vs Onosho – I love this match. Both are going to rip hard into the tachiai, and given that this is Chiyotairyu’s forte, I am looking for him to have an advantage in the first 2 steps. If he can’t overpower Onosho by that time, I think we will see a massive counter-attack. As the only undefeated rikishi remaining in the basho, everyone will want a piece of him now. For Onosho, its just 3 more wins to his 8.

Ryuden vs Wakatakakage – Question 1 – will Ryuden step onto the dohyo with comically large pieces of bandage tape arranged in an “X” over his crotch? This is a first time meeting between these two, so I would not be surprised to see a few Ryuden matta to try and smoke Wakatakakage out.

Takayasu vs Tokushoryu – It’s clear from his day 5 loss to Tochinoshin that Takayasu is not quite as genki as I had hoped. His 3-3 career record against Tokushoryu is a bit misleading, their last head to head match was in 2016!

Enho vs Kagayaki – I could make Enho vs Ryuden jokes here, but good manners are restraining me. I will say that Kagayaki’s normal post-tachiai stance tends to preclude Enho’s preferred under and to the left attack strategy. I would love to see Enho continue to get high-energy wins. Let’s hope he’s got a new plan for day 6.

Aoiyama vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji, by his nature, will want to try to dodge Aoiyama’s double arm bludgeoning attack. For 20 out of 23 times, it has failed and Takarafuji tosses the man with no neck around before he hits the clay.

Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi missed hard with his opening gambit on day 5, and he lost to Kiribayama in their only prior match. I give good odds he is going to apply maximum sumo offense today against Kiribayama, and it might be glorious to watch.

Hokutofuji vs Takanosho – Another match with huge potential. I am sure Takanosho will want to bounce back from his day 5 loss to Yutakayama, and its been a couple of years since the last time that he faced Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji seems to once again working hard towards the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo, which is a huge disappointment to his fans (1-4).

Okinoumi vs Terunofuji – Terunofuji is done with the “difficult” portion of his schedule, with both Yokozuna out, and one Ozeki scalp. Now he is going to work through the Komusubi, and it’s a question on his endurance and how much his knees can take. While Terunofuji has the brute power to win, he is more or less equal to height and wight to Okinoumi, who has proven himself a master sumo technician again this basho. Strength against encyclopedic skill, great potential! Terunofuji holds a 9-3 career record, but those are from before Terunofuji dropped rank and fought his way back up.

Endo vs Mitakeumi – Day 5 saw Mitakeumi go from quite sloppy to “cool move!”. That was perfect to Terutsuyoshi, but someone like Endo is going to laugh that one off like some kind of amped up kabuki villain. He has a 9-5 career advantage over Endo, and it seems to be that is Mitakeumi can get a thrusting attack going, it tends to disrupt Endo’s offense.

Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got a nice, welcome win on day 5 against fellow busted and battered Ozeki Takayasu. But Aki 2020 Shodai is another matter entirely. Something happened to cuddly, ridiculous Shodai with his teddy-bear tachiai and his limp offense. Now we get this fellow who seems driven to win.

Daieisho vs Yutakayama – Daieisho may have been over-promoted to a 3rd Sekiwake slot, or he may be having a cold start, or some of each. But Yutakayama is not a credible match for him this September. I am not sure what Yutakayama’s challenge is, but it was clear from practice against Shodai prior to the basho that he was struggling. They have a 5-5 career record, but I am not predicting a good day for the Tokitsukaze man.

Asanoyama vs Myogiryu – Asanoyama seems to have found some version of his sumo. I am not sure it’s the Ozeki grade sumo yet, but at least it’s better than that Juryo version he seems to have restored from backup prior to day 1. He holds a 6-2 career lead over Myogiryu, so with luck, the Ozeki can find his 3rd white star.

Terutsuyoshi vs Takakeisho – Checked, and yes – first time match. I like Terutsuyoshi, I think he’s great. I just wonder what the Grand Tadpole is going to do with this guy. Will he go for some small man sumo? A henka? Some tug-n-shove? I don’t think Takakeisho has a clear advantage today, and I am going to be watching with great interest.