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 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.

Tokyo July Basho Nakabi Highlights

The first week of the tournament over and we have quite the entertaining show on our hands. Unfortunately, before today’s action we received word that promising Kotonowaka has withdrawn due to a knee injury. Herouth sussed out the reason and it sure sounds painful. The young man had soreness after his bout with Kaisei yesterday and couldn’t bend his knee this morning. As a result he has pulled out.

Highlight Matches

Terunofuji (7-1) defeated Nishikigi (2-6): Terunofuji succeeded in grabbing Nishikigi’s belt with his left hand just out of the tachiai. His right arm was just under Nishikigi’s left arm pit, forcing Nishikigi’s left arm into an awkward and useless raised position. Even in this awkward position, Nishikigi was able to resist Terunofuji’s first drive to the edge. However, he was unable to improve his position so the second drive to the edge proved decisive. Yorikiri.

Kotoeko (6-2) defeated Takayasu (4-4): As Bruce predicted, Kotoeko focused on Takayasu’s left arm and immobilized it. He continued to drive confidently into Takayasu, fishing for the belt. For a few seconds, Takayasu was able to get Kotoeko off and force an oshi battle but Kotoeko dove time and time again for the belt. Takayasu grimaced after a kotenage attempt on the arm and shortly afterward Kotoeko edecuted a throw. Uwatenage.

Sadanoumi (4-4) defeated Kotoshoho (6-2): After a strong tachiai, Sadanoumi locked up Kotoshoho’s belt with his left hand. Keeping action in the center of the ring, Sadanoumi lulled Kotoshoho to sleep and then executed a wonderful left-handed throw. Uwatenage.

Wakatakakage (4-4) defeated Shohozan (2-6): Shohozan’s intimidation stare down was ineffective. At the tachiai, Wakatakakage drove for the shoulder. The slight shift forced Shohozan into an awkward sideways position and his own thrusts missed. Wakatakakage pushed forward with Shohozan’s left arm up, forcing Shohozan to slide over sideways and out. Oshidashi. *I miss Tochiozan.

Tochinoshin (5-3) defeated Kotonowaka (4-4): Kotonowaka’s sudden kyujo handed Tochinoshin the walk-over win. The reason for the kyujo is listed as an injury, not dinner. It appears his left knee was injured after yesterday’s bout. Fusen.

Kotoyuki (2-6) defeated Kaisei (3-5): Kotoyuki was the aggressor on this bout, forcing an oshi battle. The strong tachiai led to a quick pull attempt, forcing Kaisei off-balance. Kaisei just barely stayed up but Kotoyuki kept up the offensive, forcing Kaisei around the ring. Tsukidashi.

Chiyomaru (2-6) defeated Myogiryu (6-2): Chiyomaru found his sumo and charged out on the offensive. A strong tachai drove Myogiryu back and then a quick pull unsettled Myogiryu. He got a rare vocal response from the crowd with his well-timed decisive shove. Shoving with his left hand into Myogiryu’s right shoulder, Myogiryu landing on the bales. The impressed “Oooo” reminded me of the crowds of old…followed by the applause brought me back to reality. Tsukiotoshi.

Ishiura (3-5) defeated Shimanoumi (2-6): Ishiura gets more “Oooo” reactions from the crowd with a well-timed left foot trip. His left-handed belt grip rotated Shimanoumi into a spin, once he completed a full rotation, he slipped that left foot behind Shimanoumi’s right leg and then rotated backwards. Having successfully fumigated the dohyo, Ishiura seemed to regain his confidence. Susoharai.

Kotoshogiku (6-2) defeated Chiyotairyu (3-5): A quick belt grab and drive, Kotoshogiku bulldozed Chiyotairyu over the edge with little resistance. Perhaps it was the angle that left Chiyotairyu unable to counter? Yorikiri.

Halftime? (I Lost Track)

Terutsuyoshi (4-4) defeated Ikioi (2-6): “ちくしょう.” A slight deflection from Terutsuyoshi at the tachiai but Ikioi was ready. After a short oshi battle, Ikioi reached around Terutsuyoshi to attack from the back but Terutsuyoshi countered with the same attack to Ikioi’s back was able to push Ikioi out awkwardly. Yorikiri.

Tamawashi (6-2) defeated Tokushoryu (4-4): A bout of champions. Tamawashi’s right-hand in Tokushoryu’s face forced Tokushoryu high. He then followed with a well-timed pull, Tokushoryu in a heap at the center of the ring. Hatakikomi.

Takarafuji (3-5) defeated Ryuden (3-5): Ryuden pitched too far forward trying to get that left-hand in. Takarafuji twisted and shoved into Ryuden’s right side.  Tsukiotoshi.

Kiribayama (3-5) defeated Enho (4-4): Enho missed with his slap at the tachiai but connected with the belt. Kiribayama’s right hand grip from above and Enho’s left-hand grip from below. Twice Enho pulled and almost got Kiribayama off balance but each time Kiribayama recovered. When it was Kiribayama’s turn to go on the offensive, he did not disappoint, pulling Enho across the ring and into the dirt. Uwatenage.

Takanosho (5-3) defeated Yutakayama (0-8): Onosho kept up solid pressure on Yutakayama after a brief oshi-battle. Yutakayama extended a bit awkwardly with his right and Onosho’s sustained effort forced the mountain out over the bales and to an early make-koshi record. Yorikiri.

Sanyaku

Daieisho (5-3) defeated Onosho (0-8): After the tachiai both rikishi attempted to decapitate each other with matching facial shoves. Onosho tired of the nodowas, turned his head, perhaps searching for the exit. One final shove from Daieisho and Onosho capitulated, joining Yutakayama as make-koshi. Okuridashi.

Okinoumi (4-4) defeated Endo (2-6): Okinoumi’s solid tachiai worked Endo back a step. His height meant his extended body was too long for Endo to secure that right-handed belt grab. As Endo kept reaching, Okinoumi drove forward, forcing an impotent Endo over the edge and into the crowd empty purple mats. Endo left running away from the dohyo, as seems quite common. Yorikiri.

Shodai (7-1) defeated Mitakeumi (7-1): No wild, cartoon nonsense from Shodai today. Solid tachiai. Perhaps the shoulder blast stunned Mitakeumi? Mitakeumi forced Shodai high but couldn’t follow with a real attack and seemed lost. So, he lost. Shodai’s left arm under aite’s right armpit gave him leverage to bring high-flying Mitakeumi back to Earth. Tsukiotoshi.

It’s a two-horse race for now. How will Asanoyama and Hakuho respond?

Hokutofuji (5-3) defeated Takakeisho (5-3): Takakeisho’s scowl vs Hokutofuji’s stomp. Stomp wins quickly with a sudden sidestep. Solid tachiai but Hokutofuji shifted left and brought his right arm down on Takakeisho’s head. Takakeisho could not find a way to pull. Rather, it was Hokutofuji. Hatakikomi.

Asanoyama (8-0) defeated Aoiyama (3-5): Asanoyama did not let Aoiyama’s thrusts dissuade him from latching on to Aoiyama’s belt. Once Asanoyama grabbed that belt, Aoiyama knew it was over and the V-twin went into reverse, stepping out. Yorikiri.

Hakuho (8-0) vs Kagayaki (3-5): Hakuho derives his power from that copper-infused mawashi. A strong tachiai from Kagayaki but the blow to the face really angered the master. Hakuho decided he did not need to mess with a belt grab and instead grabs Kagayaki’s head and shoved it to the clay. Bruce was prescient. Wakanohana wonders, “who can stop Hakuho?” Aoiyama?

Tokyo July Basho Day 6 Highlights

One third of the way through the tournament is really far too early to start comparing this tournament to the performance of the simulation tournament. We’ll do that much later on as we see what it got right versus where there’s need for improvement. What matters to me at this point is that this tournament is contrasted from that one by featuring such strong starts from our leadership.

In the mock basho all sanyaku stumbled out of the gates early to chase a rank-and-filer, in sole ownership of the lead after Day 5. We start Day 6 of this tournament with three sanyaku undefeated. The joi-jin took a bath in the simulation and they’re getting pummeled in real life. But crucially, they’re not picking off as many big wins so early on. They’re definitely getting a few but the meat grinder is in fine form.

For me, this old-school, dominant Hakuho paired with the youth and promise of Asanoyama at the top of the table is a whole mood (as the kids are fond of saying lately). Confidence, patience, strength, authority…it just feeds my optimism for where we are now versus where we were at this point in May. And as we see on Day 6, my optimism has reason to grow by the end of the day.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeated Nishikigi (2-4): Nishikigi wrapped up Azumaryu and started him moving backwards with both arms outside Azumaryu’s arms. However, he wore himself out trying to lift the Juryo visitor, Terunofuji-style, over the bales. Azumaryu took over and pushed Nishikigi out. Yorikiri.

Terunofuji (5-1) defeated Kotoshoho (5-1): Kotoshoho began with a slight advantage of position after the tachiai but Terunofuji’s size and strength reigned this bout. Kotoshoho allowed Terunofuji to get a mirror belt-grip and that was a huge mistake. As Takayasu showed, use all your might to keep him off. From here Terunofuji took over the bout and quickly worked Kotoshoho back and out. Yorikiri.

Takayasu (4-2) defeated Kotoyuki (1-5): Kotoyuki tried a few slaps and a nodowa at the tachiai, and twisted around for a change of direction but all attempts in the opening volley had no effect on Takayasu. With one shove, Takayasu demonstrated who was boss, forcing Kotoyuki out. Oshidashi.

Kotonowaka (4-2) defeated Chiyomaru (0-6): Chartreuse vs Emerald. Chiyomaru gave it his all, but like Kotoyuki before him, all attempts had no impact. Kotonowaka walked Chiyomaru out easily. Oshidashi.

Wakatakakage (3-3) defeated Sadanoumi (2-4): Henka! Sadanoumi fell for it. Wakatakakage pushed down with both hands on Sadanoumi’s back and Sadanoumi fell to the clay. Hatakikomi.

Shohozan (1-5) defeated Kotoeko (4-2): Shohozan landed a weak harite slap that served to piss off Kotoeko. Kotoeko’s slaps and thrusts took over the bout, forcing Shohozan into retreat, circling ‘round and ‘round. Kotoeko was too aggressive, though, as Shohozan needed only one sidestep to push Kotoeko out. Oshi—wha..? Hatakikomi? Huh.

Tochinoshin (4-2) defeated Kotoshogiku (4-2): Kotoshogiku IS keeping his knees straight at what amounts to an awkward tachiai. The first attempt was out of sync, so matta… Ross called the henka at the next tachiai, as Kotoshogiku rolls across the dohyo… but mada matta! Tochinoshin, pissed at the gyoji more than anything, lands his left-hand overarm grip after a solid tachiai, and worked Koshogiku to the edge. Rather than try to power the former ozeki over the edge, Tochinoshin wisely chose to throw him back to the center of the ring. Uwatenage.

Tamawashi (5-1) defeated Myogiryu (5-1): Matta fest today. Tamawashi started things out way early. Once they got going for real, Tamawashi seemed interested to see what Myogiryu would be able to do and let Myogiryu try some thrusts but not enough to move Tamawashi back. Tamawashi decided it was time to act and shoved Myogiryu back. Another shove and Myogiryu was out. Surprise, surprise, Oshidashi.

Shimanoumi (2-4) defeated Ikioi (2-4): Ikioi was determined to keep Shimanoumi at arms length, pushing his opponent’s arms. He tried a pull but a balanced Shimanoumi followed well, stayed upright, pushing Ikioi out Oshi—Yorikiri? Okay.

Ishiura (2-4) defeated Kaisei (2-4): I thought the matta foretold a henka but I was wrong. Ishiura hit Kaisei head on! Both men settled at the center, fighting for belt grips. Ishiura secured a left hand grip and with a little sidestep pulled Kaisei forward. This is the Ishiura of the simulation. Unafraid of bigger guys, getting things done with skill and strength rather than games. Please bring it like this more often. Shitatedashinage.

Enho (3-3) defeated Chiyotairyu (3-3): A little submarine work from Enho at the tachiai diverted Chiyotairyu to the side. With the larger man off balance, Enho tugged on Chiyotairyu’s belt to bring him to the floor. Whattaya know? The Miyagino beya brings us twin Shitatedashinage.

Halftime

Ryuden (2-4) defeated Abi (3-3): Abi’s slaps and pull attempts forced Ryuden into chase mode. Ryuden kept his balance at the pull so Abi drove forward again, slapping and keeping Ryuden upright but this time the pull never came. Instead Ryuden ducked to the side and Abi fell in a heap on the floor. Tsukiotoshi.

Tokushoryu (3-3) defeated Hokutofuji (4-2): Hokutofuji bulled forward with his head down. Tokushoryu moved to the side to let Hokutofuji pass. With both hands on Hokutofuji’s back, Tokushoryu shoved Hokutofuji down onto the tawara. Hataki— Tsukiotoshi.

Aoiyama (3-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (2-4): After a solid tachiai and a few exchanges of slaps and shoves, Terutsuyoshi tried a change of direction and Aoiyama almost fell for it. But as the man mountain threw his arms out to maintain his balance, his right arm connected with Terutsuyoshi’s head. Aoiyama kept Terutsuyoshi in front of him and wrangled him out. Tsukidashi.

Kagayaki (3-3) defeated Yutakayama (0-6): Kagayaki was all business today. Solid tachiai. Poise, control, forward movement…Yutakayama had no chance. Oshidashi.

Sanyaku

Takanosho (3-3) defeated Daieisho (3-3): A solid tachiai from both men but Takanosho shifted to the right and pushed Daieisho past. Daieisho lost his balance while trying to turn around to meet Takanosho, landing on his butt. Oshitaoshi.

Shodai (5-1) defeated Endo (1-5): A strong tachiai and some off-balance flailing sumo from Shodai as Endo grabbed the left arm, pulling him forward to the bales. Shodai slipped his left arm in and tried the same tightrope walk throw from yesterday but he was too out of control. Endo tried a trip but missed. As Shodai reclaimed his arm, Endo lost his balance. This gave Shodai an opportunity to wheel back around and pushed Endo out. Oshidashi.

Mitakeumi (6-0) defeated Okinoumi (3-3): A solid tachiai from Okinoumi forced Mitakeumi half-way to the bales but it was not enough. Try as he might, Mitakeumi would not move back and farther. Mitakeumi mustered his strength and drove Okinoumi back to the edge. A final shove back to the center of the ring brought Okinoumi to the dirt. Tsukiotoshi.

Kiribayama (2-4) defeated Takakeisho (4-2): Takakeisho started off with some standard thrusting. The agile Kiribayama lept and got his hands up to the back of Takakeisho’s head, shoving down forcefully. This negated Takakeisho’s advantage as the Ozeki fought to maintain his balance. Kiribayama got his hands into the mawashi and drove Takakeisho backwards and out. Yorikiri.

Asanoyama (6-0) defeated Onosho (0-6): Onosho forced Asanoyama’s head back but it was not enough to get the Ozeki moving backwards. Instead, he quickly secured an left-overarm belt grab, and used his superior footwork to usher Onosho over the edge. Yorikiri.

Hakuho (6-0) defeated Takarafuji (2-4): A straightforward win from the master. Strong tachiai and he drives Takarafuji back. Takarafuji tries to move left along the edge but the master kept him in front and continued the forward pressure until Takarafuji stepped over the bales. Yorikiri.