Nagoya Day 9 Highlights

If you only occasionally catch video of sumo matches, today is the day to make a point of watching them. NHK video on demand, Kintamayama, Jason, Natto – hell, watch them all. It was a day of surprises and “did you see that” events. Well worth the time it will take to see it all.

One of the least enjoyable elements on day 9 is yet another Tagonoura top-ranking rikishi, with an injury to his left upper body, sent back to the dohyo to compete. To be clear I am not in Japan, or Japanese in any way—but I really have to wonder—is this a sumo cultural thing, or is sports medicine more or less nonexistent in Japan? Is Tagonoura Oyakata completely hands-off in managing the health of his men? I know that Chiganoura Oyakata gets it.

I hope Tagonoura realizes that Takayasu is an important “bridge” element between the current generation that is aging out of their top division roles they have held for so long, and the next generation who are forming up nicely. Someone has to rule the roost for a short while as the new crop get experienced enough to hold down the top ranks. Wreck Takayasu, and you lose that to his detriment and that of the sport’s future. Does he want to get 8 wins so he’s not part of an entry in sumo’s record books? Sure, but shut up Takayasu, and go see a doctor. Put his ass on the Shinkansen and get him to Tokyo to lower the temptation to get back on the dohyo.

With that rant of frustration complete, there are some bloody wonderful matches to talk about. Let’s get started!

Highlight Matches

Sadanoumi defeats Kaisei – This is not a highlight; Kaisei is also too hurt to compete. It’s over good sir, you are make-koshi. Get medical attention now.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan is really starting to fade out now; I think we are in a 2-4 basho period where a lot of these old mainstays are going to fade down to Juryo and quietly make their exits. Prepare for a rolling parade of intai ceremonies for some long-famous names of the sumo world. Terutsuyoshi’ sumo was dead solid today. He kept his attack on Tochiozan’s center-mass and just relentlessly drove forward.

Kotoyuki defeats Nishikigi – Kotoyuki’s tsuppari attack was especially effective today against Nishikigi, who has a tough time with a pushing fight due to his poor eyesight. Unable to grab a hold of Kotoyuki, Nishikigi was little more than practice ballast for the day.

Enho defeats Takagenji – Enho delivers the high intensity sumo again today. He was able to get enough exposed body on Takagenji to get to work, and finished it with a leg pick. The look of frustration on Takagenji’s face tells the story of his maddening inability to stand up to the Fire Pixie.

Kotoeko defeats Yago – I am going to assume Yago is headed back to Juryo after 4 tournaments in the top division. He’s clearly working through some manner of injury(s), and may need a period of recuperation to return to good form. Kotoeko’s relentless focus on center-mass left Yago unable to escape or respond.

Daishoho defeats Chiyomaru – Daishoho goes bowling, using Chiyomaru as the ball and the front row of the zabuton ranks as the pins. It’s a strike! Chiyomaru sometimes thinks his enormous belly is proof against a mawashi grip, but Daishoho fought for and obtained a grip that he employed with great effect.

Tomokaze defeats Kagayaki – Tomokaze met Kagayaki’s tachiai and raised Kagayaki up before immediately swinging his arms to bring him down with a lightning hatakikomi.

Myogiryu defeats Toyonoshima – I honestly thought Toyonoshima would bring more to this match, but Myogiryu rode him like a rented bicycle. This seems to be a good rank for Myogiryu, but it’s certain we will see him tested in the joi-jin in September.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shohozan’s mobility-focused sumo takes a hit with the slick Nagoya dohyo robbing him of traction at the worst moment. It took a moment for Shimanoumi to realize that his opponent was starting to fall forward and shift his balance to assist Shohozan’s slide into defeat. Faster reactions Shimanoumi!

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Hit and shift, followed by a push from behind. Simple, elegant and effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Onosho – Once again, check out how poor the traction is on that dohyo. I think we are going to see more injuries as people slip and fall. Kotoshogiku takes full advantage of Onosho’s balance problems and drops him face first to the clay after a pushing match.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – Daieisho spent half the match circling away from Takarafuji, working to ensure that Takarafuji never put a hand on his mawashi. The tactic worked, leaving Takarafuji only really able to work defense, but with poor ring position.

Endo defeats Aoiyama – The part where Endo plants his face in Aoiyama’s pendulous man-boob for the win demands some kind of special prize for Endo. The only thing worse than watching it in real time was the slow-motion replays. At least they did not try to interview him about it following the win.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama continues to shine, and prevails after almost losing traction on that dohyo and falling for a loss. He keeps Ryuden moving in reverse and keeps his hips surprisingly low. If he can stay healthy, I think he is going to be a big deal. His sumo looks better every tournament, and his confidence keeps going up. Perhaps a little statement from Asanoyama to the banzuke committee about which of the two should have been ranked Komusubi. -lksumo

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – You may not have realized how satisfying it might be to see Tamawashi go flying off the dohyo, but I am thankful that Hokutofuji was thoughtful enough to take the time to create this masterpiece and present it to the fans.

Abi defeats Mitakeumi – I jumped up and shouted. We knew that Abi-zumo 2.0 has been under construction for at least a year, and when he finally pulled it out and fired it, it was as glorious as we all hoped. It started with the traditional double arm thrust to the upper body, but he immediately released pressure and landed a deep right-hand outside grip while his left took a hold of Mitakeumi’s neck. In a blink of an eye Abi executes a flowing uwatenage that had a bit of Harumafuji spiciness to it. I kept rewinding, and watching it again. Watch out sumo world, now that there are two attack modes, you may not quite know what’s coming.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – There has been no word on Takayasu’s condition since the bout on day 8. Many of us expected him to go kyujo, but for some daft reason, here he is on the dohyo, barely able to move that left arm. Shodai is no fool, and attack hard against the Ozeki’s damaged left side, and Takayasu could only respond. Shodai’s sumo is highly chaotic at times, and when you think you have him beat, you get the surprise that he was in fact setting you up. This happened to Takayasu. With Shodai at the bales, I am sure the Ozeki was ready to win, but instead he took a roll off the dohyo. I am equal parts outraged and sad. Takayasu is in no condition to compete, and he’s out of the yusho race as certain as I am writing this from Texas.

Ichinojo defeats Hakuho – But the Great Sumo Cat was not done with us today, dear readers. Member in good standing of the damaged elbow club, Hakuho, found out just how powerful Ichinojo can be. After Hakuho tossing a few humiliation elements into their past matches, the Boulder reduced the dai-Yokozuna to an ineffective, struggling mess. The zabuton fly as a well-earned kinboshi is minted in the Nagoya heat. Will this loss be enough for Hakuho to recognize the limitations his injury has imposed? Perhaps. He faces “arm breaker” Tamawashi day 10.

Kakuryu defeats Meisei – I give a lot of points to Meisei: he put in an enormous effort against Kakuryu. But Big-K is dialed in and contained his wildly shifting and twisting opponent. Kakuryu takes sole possession of the lead, and I would think he is genki enough right now to keep the lead.

Nagoya Day 8 Preview

It’s the middle day of the glorious Nagoya tournament, and NHK World Japan will be live for the final 50 minutes of Makuuchi across their global streaming platform. Sadly I don’t think we will get to hear John Gunning, who was doing commentary with Ross Mihara for day 7, but the NHK Grand Sumo crew always do a fantastic job. If everything goes well, both Yokozuna could make kachi-koshi today, as they are unbeaten going into day 8.

Also with day 8’s preview, we take a look at the basho leader board. Act 2 is doing its job remarkably well – shaping the yusho race. There are 4 rikishi in numerical contention, with 3 actually likely to battle it out for the cup. But until someone starts putting dirt on the Yokozuna, it’s theirs to lose.

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leaders: Kakuryu, Hakuho
Chasers: Takayasu, Terutsuyoshi
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Ichinojo, Myogiryu, Tomokaze, Enho, Kotoyuki

8 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotoyuki vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu is up from Juryo to fill the Tochinoshin gap, and he draws against a surprisingly genki Kotoyuki who somehow is part of the leaderboard. Ok, fine – Mr 5×5, please take it into week 2. I would love to see you make a case for the cup.

Chiyomaru vs Enho – They don’t come much bigger than Chiyomaru, and they don’t come much smaller than Enho. If you wanted a bout of contrasts, here it is. Enho will need to find a way to get under that enormous belly in order to get to work.

Yago vs Sadanoumi – The series favors Sadanoumi 2-0, and Yago fans are hoping he can win his first today. I don’t have any news on what manner of malady is plaguing Yago, but it has to be something. You don’t go from a decent battler to someone squeezing by without an injury.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – Terutsuyoshi would love to hang on to his slot in the chase group, but he has never won against Kagayaki (0-2). Kagayaki suffered a horrible case of ring rust in the first week, but seems to be back on his sumo. This will be a pivotal match.

Kaisei vs Nishikigi – Two sumo nice guys go head to head, but the outcome is fairly certain. I am sad for Kaisei. He’s hurt and not doing well, but he seems intent to solider on.

Kotoeko vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan continues to be a half step behind his normal level of sumo, and that might not be good enough to defeat Kotoeko this time around.

Toyonoshima vs Takagenji – Toyonoshima opened Nagoya losing 5 straight, and has now won the last 2. Did he learn from the prior 2 days matches against Takagenji? Lets see if Toyonoshima goes chest to chest and waits him out.

Myogiryu vs Daishoho – First time meeting between these two, but frankly I expect Myogiryu to put Daishoho without too much trouble.

Chiyotairyu vs Shohozan – Oh good, two heavily armed battle boys here to slug it out. If Shohozan can keep his balance and survive the first 10 seconds, he has a good chance of winning this one.

Okinoumi vs Shimanoumi – Another great first time match between an veteran Makuuchi mainstay who is holding his own this tournament, and a young, hard charging rikishi who seems to have some good upside potential. I give experience a small advantage here.

Kotoshogiku vs Tomokaze – Tomokaze won his first 5, and has dropped the last 2. The main weakness of his opponent today is poor strength from his lower body. If he can overpower Kotoshogiku after the tachiai, the veteran may not have enough strength to slow him down.

Onosho vs Takarafuji – I am looking for Takarafuji, who has excellent mobility, to take full advantages of Onosho’s apparent balance problems. Onosho will be well served to keep Takarafuji in front of me, and to overpower him early and keep moving him back.

Asanoyama vs Endo – Both are going to go yotsu, and it’s going to be fantastic. Endo is the far more versatile rikishi, and I expect that he will set the tone of the match. Asanoyama will try to keep it in his comfort zone, but I expect Endo to try for that shallow / mae-mitzu straight from the tachiai.

Aoiyama vs Hokutofuji – Although Hokutofuji holds a career 7-1 advantage over Aoiyama, I am expecting this to be a real brawl. Hokutofuji is looking more composed and more on point than he has in a long time, but Aoiyama has upped his sumo prior to Nagoya and is showing excellent balance and ring sense.

Abi vs Ryuden – At some point Abi-zumo is going to come roaring back, and this might be the day, as Abi holds a 3-1 career advantage over Ryuden. Ryuden has been leading with his head the past two days, and maybe that might be slowing him down.

Mitakeumi vs Ichinojo – Both are in the hunt group, both are fighting well, and both are my favorite to win this match. Mitakeumi does hold a7-4 career advantage on the Boulder.

Goeido vs Meisei – If Goeido loses to Meisei, he’s really really hurt his ankle. This is like a bait minnow you feed to your bigger, fancy fish. You feel a bit sorry for it, but you know your fish needs to eat.

Tamawashi vs Takayasu – These two used to beat each other senseless occupying the Sekiwake ranks, and their career record is 12-12. If Takayasu is going to contend for the cup, he needs this win.

Kakuryu vs Daieisho – I am expecting a straight-forward win for the Yokozuna.

Shodai vs Hakuho – Given how much I deride Shodai, you would think I am going to make some quip about The Boss catapulting him back to toon town. But this is a very serious, very important match that I think is a must-win for Hakuho. Not only because he wants “yet another yusho”, but I think he may be near the limit of what his body can support for this basho. He needs his 8th win before he starts knocking heads against Takayasu, Mitakeumi and Tamawashi. So he’s got to beat Shodai, and I expect him to use every psych-out and mind game in his considerable arsenal to make sure Shodai defeats himself before the tachiai. Bonus points to Kakuryu if he can give his tachi-moshi one hell of a pep talk today.

Nagoya Day 7 Highlights

I stated up front that I expected Hakuho to take the yusho, and possibly do it with 15 straight wins. I continue to think this is a strong possibility, but if you take the body of his 7 matches thus far in Nagoya, you can see a trend. Firstly, each day he struggles a bit more to win. His sumo is less smooth and efficient, and he is definitely favoring that right arm.

While he may have “rested up” and gotten to the point where he felt like things were good, once he is in full power combat with real opponents, it’s possible that he either re-injured that bicep tear in his right arm, or the strain of daily matches has brought in the biggest long term threat, inflammation. I cite this as a threat because swelling will tear tissue, and create damage that cannot heal.

Right now, The Boss is playing for time. He has a personal goal to make it to next summer to still be an active Yokozuna during the Tokyo 2020 summer olympics, and to continue in sumo until he can secure his Japanese citizenship and transition to an Oyakata. The question now, can his arm hold out that long? If he takes the pattern of one tournament on, one tournament off, he needs to just survive 3 more tournaments to reach his olympics goal. That’s 25 more wins (1+8+8+8) for the winningest man in sumo.

But as an egotist, I could see Hakuho driving himself to the point of muscle failure in that injured arm, simply to maintain the facade of the invisible, unbeatable ultimate dai-Yokozuna. Let’s hope it does not come to that. But his sumo is very rough now, and I fear he will have some big problems with his second week opponents. He can reach the safety of kachi-koshi on Sunday by beating Shodai.

Highlight Matches

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tokushoryu – Terutsuyoshi’s poorly executed henka attempt nearly lost him the match, but he rallied and drove Juryo visitor Tokushoryu out of the ring. That was one fine recovery.

Toyonoshima defeats Sadanoumi – As always, act 2 brings some great reversals, and after having a miserable basho in act 1, perhaps Toyonoshima has found his sumo. Toyonoshima finally looked more like his normal self, as he used his belly to disrupt Sadanoumi’s offense, and closed the match with a painful looking tottari.

Kotoyuki defeats Chiyomaru – Kotoyuki’s superior mobility carried this match, coupled with Chiyomaru’s poorly executed attempt at a pull down.

Kagayaki defeats Enho – Once in a while, Enho’s up and under tachiai misses its mark. This happened today as Kagayaki blocked him out at the initial charge and powerfully tossed his much smaller opponent out of the ring. Enho never had a moment to plant his feet to defend, and Kagayaki’s mobility ensured he was glued to Enho’s retreat.

Yago defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan owned the tachiai, but for some reason broke contact, probably to try and improve his body / arm position. This left him off temp and Yago battled him for every attempt at a grip. With Tochiozan off balance, Yago was able to slap him down for the win. Fairly sloppy match, but I am sure Yago is happy for the win.

Kotoeko defeats Kaisei – Kaisei had a strong position, but that injured right arm robs him of any chance to generate meaningful offense. Kotoeko’s sukuinage was brilliantly executed, with his left foot as close to out as you could ever get and still win.

Shohozan defeats Takagenji – It seems Shohozan did indeed study that match against Okinoumi, as he applied a variation on the same theme. Although Shohozan’s usual style of sumo is a fairly brutal oshi style, he took Takagenji to his chest, and wore him down. For the second day in a row, this worked.

Okinoumi defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi works for his normal arm pin, but Okinoumi deftly entraps him instead, pulls him off balance to the right and rolls it into a uwatehineri. When you have veterans like Okinoumi on the dohyo, you can get some really impressive displays of sumo skill.

Onosho defeats Daishoho – Onosho really needed this win. He nearly bounced too far back at the tachiai, but was able to recover and advance with surprising strength and speed. His balance was still to far out in front of his big toe, but today it worked for him.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tomokaze – I am not sure if it was the plan, or Chiyotairyu improvised today, but this was lightning fast and perfectly executed. Tomokaze, to his credit, absorbed most of that cannon ball tachiai, but Chiyotairyu smoothly shifted to his right, and pushed hard. That put Tomokaze off balance and out of control.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – As I mentioned earlier in the week, I was happily enjoying the genki Kotoshogiku, but knew that with his catalog of injuries he was going to struggle later. We can see in this match against Shimanoumi, that the former Ozeki just can’t quite generate much in the way of forward pressure.

Myogiryu defeats Ichinojo – Myogiryu continues his dominance over the Boulder, and for at least today, he distracted Ichinojo by attacking his neck / face. For whatever reason, Ichinojo decided to respond in kind rather than pressing the attack to win, and while Myogiryu received something that looked like the Vulcan Death Grip, his right hand found a deep grip on Ichinojo’s mawashi. Now Ichinojo is high, and has no real grip on Myogiryu. Myogiryu drops his hips, and Ichinojo has no defense. I am sure it hurt, but Myogiryu’s gambit paid off.

Meisei defeats Takarafuji – I think everyone in the Dolphin Arena was relieved for Meisei, who finally scored his first win of the basho. Sadly, journeyman technician Takarafuji only has 2 wins thus far.

Hokutofuji defeats Abi – This is the first time that Hokutofuji was able to score a win against Abi, and I think it happened because Hokutofuji’s tachiai landed deeper than Abi expected, and he was able to shut down Abi’s right hand lead off to his normal thrusting attack. Abi-zumo requires a bit of distance to the opponent, and has Hokutofuji has show before, his lower body is nearly autonomous, able to advance while his upper body absorbs blow after blow.

Ryuden defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi came out strong, and took the tachiai, forcing Ryuden back. But Tamawashi has a predictable left-right thrusting attack, and Ryuden was able to pivot at the end of Tamawashi’s right arm thrust, leaving no where for his left to go. Now off balance and leaning forward, Ryuden finishes him with a shove to the shoulder. Nice timing on Ryuden’s part.

Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Don’t fret Asanoyama fans. His first trip to the upper reaches of Maegashira was always going to be a rough ride. His sumo is still solid, and it’s still improving. Mitakeumi gave him a close in demo of tadpole sumo, and it worked brilliantly. Robbed of any ability to land a grip, Asanoyama tries to pull, and that release of forward pressure is all any tadpole needs to put you away.

Takayasu defeats Aoiyama – In spite of his 3-4 record, I don’t think Aoiyama has looked this good since two years ago at Nagoya where he took the jun-yusho. If you look at Aoiyama’s foot placement during this match, its quite excellent, and his focus on keeping maximum pressure against Takayasu’s upper body is relentless. But when his attempt to throw Takayasu failed, he was defenseless, and Takayasu moved him out for the win. Good sumo from both. I think that Andy may have been on to something he thought it might be time for Takayasu to contend for the cup.

Endo defeats Goeido – I am calling it now, Goeido’s ankle is acting up again, and we are not going to see good Ozeki sumo out of him for the rest of the tournament. He is going to try to piece together his 8, which he might do, but don’t look for his awesome pure offense sumo on a daily basis. I think Endo was surprised by how easy it was to land a mawashi grip at the tachiai.

Hakuho defeats Daieisho – The Yokozuna looked rough, out of control and trying anything he could short of his favorite throws, all of which count on that right arm. Fans who are not comfortable with the sometimes brutal nature of sumo should be put on notice. Once Monday rolls around, Hakuho will be facing higher ranked opponents, and every one of them are going to work to attack that arm. I am sure The Boss knows it too, and why the day 8 match against Shodai is going to be pivotal.

Kakuryu defeats Shodai – I will say it, Kakuryu looks more genki right now than Hakuho. Shodai gave him a few tricksy moves, but really had no answer to the Yokozuna’s forward advance.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview

Hey, Shin-Ikioi… Get Ready

We are only up to day 4, and we already have some very interesting developments in the basho. Ryuden is up today vs The Boss, and while I don’t expect him to beat Hakuho, I am curious to see how much of a challenge he presents. His sumo has taken on some great techniques that I think are going to cause all kinds of havoc in his lower ranking week 2 matches.

We also seem to have a switch in Takayasu’s sumo to a more deliberate, powerful style. I suspect this was forged in endless practice sessions with Araiso Oyakata, and it seems to still be settling in. We might see some very nice results in September, and better still in November if he can stick with it, and make it work.

Tomokaze is showing fantastic sumo, and I think he has a lot of potential. As we have been communicating at Tachiai, we are in an evolving transitional period in sumo, and it’s starting to become clear who some of the stars of the next era of sumo are likely to be, and I think Tomokaze could be a star.

Last but certainly not least, even though he comes to the dohyo heavily bandaged each day, Enho is a force in sumo at this rank. The question remains open as to what happens to him once he is placed higher up the banzuke. He is so amazingly fast, and never ever gives up. The crowd loves him, and so does Team Tachiai.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Toyonoshima vs Kaisei – Kaisei is finally done with those pesky short guys and their hyper-speed sumo. That right arm looks like it is a constant bother, so we know he is competing at less than genki levels. Toyonoshima needs a win in a bad way, and he holds a 6-2 career advantage over Kaisei, though their last head to head match was 2016!

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – Pixie fight! This should be a giant pile of ultra awesome early in the top division day. I expect a lot of action, a lot of changes in who is dictating the match, and possible a few “did you see that” moves.

Chiyomaru vs Yago – While I have confidence that Chiyomaru can get his sumo in gear by the middle weekend and still end up with 7 or 8 wins, it seems something has broken lose in Yago-land, and his sumo is suffering. The guy has all of the tools needed to dominate this low in the banzuke, so I am going to assume its mostly some undisclosed injury.

Kotoyuki vs Sadanoumi – Kotoyuki went back to the shitaku-beya following his match, feeling like something was missing. Yes, he was unable to great the fine people who had made it to the venue to watch sumo. He had not been able to land his large, sweaty form in the middle of well connected ladies and high ranking corporate executives, and this left him feeling down. Today will be the day, Kotoyuki let your dreams take flight!

Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – I am sorry, but this match has me really interested. Nishikigi has been strong but slow since May, and Kagayaki was a dumpster fire for all of Natsu. Now Kagayaki seems to gotten most of his sumo back, and is ready to fight with limited gusto. I am sure Nishikigi will hug the nearest blurry object, and pin their arms to his body, then walk forward. I want to see Kagayaki do something unexpected here.

Tochiozan vs Takagenji – As Tochiozan ages out, his “hot” streaks are fewer and further between. Takagenji seems to be on a hot streak of his own right now. and his sumo looks better than I have recalled seeing it in over a year.

Shohozan vs Kotoeko – A’slappin and a’poundin and a’smackin and a’shovin. This match has all of the goodies one hopes to see on a day at “The Sumo”. Shohozan is eventually going to get it in gear. Maybe today is the day.

Daishoho vs Okinoumi – Also in the “aging out” group we find Okinoumi. This is his first ever match against the winless Daishoho. I would expect that the man who put Shimane-ken in the sumo lexicon will dominate over the hapless Mongolian.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – Career favors Onosho 3-1, but Onosho can’t keep his weight centered since his knee injury. Unless he gets his balance down, its going to be face plant after face plant. Oh, and bring back that red mawashi. Whatever kami was in that thing was a real fighter.

Tomokaze vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has yet to take one from Tomokaze, who I am thinking will be a force for the future. Hell, Shimanoumi might be too, but he needs a bit of seasoning.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Oh goodie, this one is lopsided for the Kyushu Bulldozer, as Kotoshogiku leads the career series 13-1. Not that Chiyotairyu lacks any power or fighting spirit, but Kotoshogiku seems very dialed in right now.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Bruce want monster-Ichinojo to pick up puny Takarafuji and take him home to meet the pony. (11-2 carer favors Ichinojo)

Aoiyama vs Meisei – I was not expecting Meisei to open Nagoya 0-3 (I am sure neither was he). Save for the one match with Goeido, Aoiyama has looked in form and powerful. I don’t expect Meisei to correct the slide today.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Readers of Tachiai know how I feel about Shodai. He’s nearly as annoying as Endo in the breaks he gets, but without the good looks or technical sumo chops. But he does tend to blow Mitakeumi up. I am sure this really annoys Mitakeumi, too.

Endo vs Tamawashi – I think this is the match where Tamawashi overcomes his extensive, explosive and crippling ring-rust. 0-3? Come on! Go smack Endo the Golden around, I am sure he does not want another interview this basho, so help him get a make-koshi, if you would.

Daieisho vs Tochinoshin – A sumo fan using the wonderful sumodb might assume that the schedulers had given Tochinoshin a lovely cupcake with his match today against Daieisho. But I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s injuries are performance limiting enough that this is more or less a bit of a “decider”. If you can’t overcome Daieisho, maybe you need to go kyujo. Let’s see if Tochinoshin can rally.

Asanoyama vs Takayasu – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, than you for blessing your humble sumo fans with this match. We hope that it involves two burly men grabbing each other bodily and trying to toss the other one around. Grant us our pleas that we might see yet another Takayasu rematch, and an endless shimpan parade.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – Both of these men like to blast off the line with the subtlety of a bowling ball to the crotch. What he hell happens at a quantum level where these two guys slam into each other? I do expect that yet again, Hokutofuji will fight brilliantly, but lose. This seems to be the stage he is in right now with his sumo career.

Kakuryu vs Abi – Kakuryu is looking really good right now, and I am eager to see him play with Abi before he puts him into the clay. But you have to love Abi, the guy really gets pumped when it’s time for his match, and it’s really clear that he has a lot of fun with the sport.

Ryuden vs Hakuho – Oh good heavens! This has the potential to be quite the battle. Hakuho seems to only be about 80% genki, and that may be degraded enough that Ryuden can put him in that pain-pose that he has been using for the last dozen or so matches. Of course we have all seen Hakuho use it in the past, so I am hoping he has some special magical moves to counter it with a flourish and a thud.