Aki Day 11 Recap – Mayhem At The Top

Here we are, in the last leg of this wonderful basho. The yusho race is getting hot. Tochinoshin’s kadoban is not clear yet. Some rikishi are teetering on the edge of make-koshi. Let’s dive in!

tochinoshin-carrying-kakuryu
What morozashi?

Kotoyuki determined not to roll today. He and Ryuden clash heads at the tachiai, and Kotoyuki continues with some strong tsuppari. It could be that Ryuden is a little dizzy from that clash, but I have a feeling he has his foot slightly off the accelerator now that he is kachi-koshi.

In the match of the dew-gatherers, Kakuryu’s tsuyuharai, Nishikigi, faces Hakuho’s Ishiura, who has seven losses and can’t afford another one. Ishiura has the faster tachiai and slips in his arms. It takes him about a second to secure a grip – but Nishikigi already has him at the edge, and makes sure he is no longer a dew-gatherer as of next basho (only Makuuchi wrestler participate in a Yokozuna dohyo-iri).

Takanosho, the newcomer, faces Okinoumi, with the NHK broadcast team (Japanese) making much of the fact that Okinoumi has sanyaku experience. Takanosho cares about none of that – goes low and upwards at the tachiai, applies “hazu” to Okinoumi’s armpits, and quickly drives him out. Takanosho has a good chance of achieving kachi-koshi in the next few days.

The next bout features the man who would have been the natural replacement for Ishiura in Hakuho’s dohyo-iri. Alas, Kyokutaisei has gone kyujo again. Damage to the meniscus in the right knee. Chiyomaru gets the fusensho, and Kyokutaisei will join Ishiura in Juryo next basho.

Chiyoshoma starts his bout with Sadanoumi with a kachiage, but has no follow-up, and Sadanoumi uses his right elbow to push the Mongolian to the edge rather quickly. Then he slides his arms around Chiyoshoma and drives him out… or so he thinks. Chiyoshoma does some of his acrobatics, and turns the tables with a throw. Pay attention to how Chiyoshoma works to keep his tiptoe planted on the dohyo until the very moment Sadanoumi touches ground. Thus, no monoii, and it’s Chiyoshoma’s win.

Daieisho overwhelmes Yoshikaze with some windmill tsuppari. A few thrusts, then a hazu to direct Yoshikaze around towards the nearest bales, then some more thrusts. Yoshikaze tries to land a grip, but can’t get through the barrage, and ends up landing on Futagoyama oyakata.

Takanoiwa and Kotoshogiku are kenka-yotsu – meaning that they prefer opposite grips. This normally means that whoever manages to land his favorite grip has the advantage. In this bout, it’s Kotoshogiku who gets his hidari-yotsu. But Takanoiwa is unfazed, secures a strong grip on both sides, and pulls Kotoshogiku up, occasionally even lifting him off the ground a bit. This completely neutralizes Kotoshogiku’s ability to chug, because a gaburi-yori is less about the pelvis, and all about the traction your feet have transferring power into aforesaid pelvis. Not touching the ground, he can’t do that, and when he gets a start, Takanoiwa finishes him with a shitatenage. Takanoiwa well deserves the spot in the yusho arasoi where he finds himself at the moment.

Hokutofuji is getting tired of seeing his kachi-koshi slipping away time and time again. This time he sticks to his guns. And although Shohozan throws his own guns and the kitchen sink at him, he just patiently continues with that tsuppari, his right hand forming large circles, each pushing Shohozan further. Oshi-dashi and kachi-koshi.

Aoiyama and Onosho start their match with the expected exchange of thrusts. Aoiyama probably realizes that Onosho plans to pull at some point and let him drop, so he envelopes him in his big arms. Onosho, with his inferior reach, can’t do much against that, and the bout ends with a yori-kiri and a make-koshi for Onosho, who will have to spend some time in the nether regions of Makuuchi before regaining his Prince Tadpole status.

Asanoyama falls for Daishomaru‘s henka, hook, line and sinker. His hand touches the ground before the gyoji even completes his “hakki-yoi”. For some reason, Daishomaru looks disappointed.

Takarafuji can’t recreate his magic from yesterday. He tries to circle around the dohyo until he gets his grip, but Myogiryu makes sure he leaves orbit. Oshidashi. Takarafuji 5-6, Myagiryu nearing his kachi-koshi.

Tochiozan slams into Chiyonokuni. Kuni doesn’t really have much power in him this basho, and soon finds himself outside – and make-koshi.

Endo has a good tachiai vs. Kagayaki, but Kagayaki has the better reach and, really, Endo doesn’t have much power in him. At the edge he tries to sidestep and start his own attack. Kagayaki rallies, and Endo runs out of gas. It seems to me that whatever mystery disease was plaguing Yoshikaze in the previous basho has taken Endo in this one. He simply can’t produce any power. But while everybody was very gentle with Yoshikaze, nobody is giving Endo any breaks. Must be all those kensho envelopes.

Abi and Chiyotairyu start a tsuki-oshi match, which suddenly comes to a halt as Abi holds Chiyotairyu at arms length. Abi, however, shows the same lack of patience he has shown yesterday, miscalculates his footing, and tries to restart the attack, promptly falling on his face. Chiyotairyu doesn’t say no to free gifts.

Takakeisho slams into Ikioi, knocking the air out of him, then sidesteps, and lets the taller man find his way to the opposite side. By the time Ikioi turns back, the tadpole is there to give him that final farewell. Given the joi carnage this basho, Takakeisho is doing rather well with a 5-6. Ikiyoyo is 1-10.

Yutakayama still has nothing to offer having returned from kyujo. He lands a classic tsuppari on Tamawashi‘s chest. Tamawashi, unimpressed, gives him one big shove for his trouble, which seems to land him on Kaisei. See, Tamawashi is very considerate about Yutakayama’s health (less so about Kaisei’s).

I don’t know what posessed Mitakeumi to try that little henka, but Kaisei sees through it. He gets all over Mitakeumi and hands him what must be his most humiliating loss so far. Mitakeumi is 6-5, and kisses his Ozeki run goodbye. Although some media people still hope that he can do something if he wins out (giving him 10-5, thus 32 wins over three basho), Shibatayama oyakata says “not with this sumo”, rather emphatically.

Goeido continues his generally good performance this basho. Slams into Shodai, and starts pushing him. Shodai can only pride himself on surviving more than the one second it usually gets to reach one side, as he causes Goeido’s circle to be larger than usual. That’s all.

And then Kakuryu meets Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin.

Really, Kakuryu has been absolutely wonderful this basho. He went through those wins day after day. Straight forward and with power. But Tochinoshin is both desperate and, apparently, on the mend.

Kakuryu starts with his usual tachiai this basho, which looks like he is dropping head first into his rival’s chest. And he gets not just a grip – he gets a tight morozashi. Now, in that situation, most rikishi start saying their prayers and wondering which shimpan they are about to hit. But not Tochinoshin. His weapon against morozashi is a soto-yotsu grip, which means both arms outside. With the height difference between him and the yokozuna, he gets a very good one. And then it starts to look like a crane game in one of the ubiquitous Japanese arcades. Lift once… drop… lift again… and you got your prize toy. The kadoban is not clear yet – one more win needed – but the Incredible Hulk (red version) is back, and tomorrow’s bout between him and Hakuho is going to be a doozy.

Moving on to the next Yokozuna match, Kisenosato, and his much celebrated kachi-koshi, faces up the near make-koshi Ichinojo. Now, although he lost to Hakuho yesterday (and got that annoying extra push), Ichinojo already looked better in that match than he did most of this basho. So my guess is that his back stopped hurting. Ichinojo has a good-boy tachiai – both fists on the ground waiting for his rival’s initiative – so there is nothing the gyoji can do to help the ailing yokozuna this time. Ichinojo straightens, and hands Kisenosato three servings of kaiju nodowa. The Yokozuna doesn’t get to lift a finger, he is blown away that fast. And he is very very unhappy about that. He has to sit down for the last bout as make-nokori, and his face is more clouded than the Tokyo sky.

Musubi no ichiban. Hakuho faces Takayasu, who is just one behind at this point. Win, and given Kakuryu’s loss, Takayasu would be in the leader group for the yusho. Lose, and he drops behind the chasers.

Takayasu stands up too early. Matta. Bad, bad mistake. This pisses off Hakuho, who reacts by stepping over the shikiri-sen and giving Takayasu a penetrating death stare.

Now, the Yokozuna is trying to get Takayasu to lay both fists on the ground like a good boy. Takayasu lays just one fist down, as does the Yokozuna. Hakuho doesn’t like the fact that Takayasu is not committing himself, and straightens up. It’s a second matta.

Now, the third time that Takayasu tries a tachiai without committing himself, Hakuho  throws hinkaku to the wind. He doesn’t care what they say – he shoots at Takayasu who still doesn’t have his fists on the ground, hands him a slap from the right side, and a kachiage aimed at the nose from the other. Let tongues wag. That… wasn’t really sumo. And yes, there was another dame-oshi there.

hakuho-takayasu-blink-of-an-eye

Mere mortal, don’t try playing mind games with a kitsune. The Dai-yokozuna is now the sole leader of the yusho arasoi – although Tochinoshin may change things come tomorrow.

Yusho arasoi Day 11

11-0Y1WHakuho
10-1Y2EKakuryu
9-2O1EGoeido
O2ETakayasu
M13WTakanoiwa

yokozunameter-2018-aki-day-11

Natsu Jungyo 2018 – Final Report

Yes, we made it! Day 26 of this long-long-long Jungyo is here. Sit back and fasten your seatbelts, because today there is a lot of sumo action.

🌐 Location: KITTE, Tokyo

venue

This Jungyo event is different than the rest of the events we have been covering. KITTE is a chain of malls in Japan. This one in particular takes place in the KITTE mall at Tokyo Station. And it takes place on the last day of every Natsu Jungyo (for the past 5 years).

In addition to being a fixed location on the schedule, the order of the day is different than a Jungyo day. For one, there is no keiko, only bouts and “okonomi” performances. And a “talk show” (on-stage interview) with selected rikishi – in this case, Tochinoshin and Mitakeumi.

In fact, the Juryo wrestlers did not participate in this event at all – except for Akiseyama who had a Makuuchi bout.

But this doesn’t mean there was no goofing around. Here you see Chiyomaru, Daieisho and Takakeisho. They got a huge fan, and play rock-paper-scissors to see who is “it” – the one who has to cool off the other two.

Turns out, Takakeisho sucks at rock-paper-scissors:

The event started with sumo Jinku, followed by an oicho-mage tying demonstration, featuring both Endo and Yutakayama – so that spectators in all directions can enjoy the view.

As you can see, a large part of the oicho-mage preparation process is actually getting the pomade (“suki-abura” – apparently binzuke-abura is no longer used) evenly spread in the hair.

Next, Sandanme and Makushita had bouts in the form of an elimination tournament. The Makushita brackets were:

  • Enho-Tochiseiryu
  • Chiyootori-Nakazono
  • Chiyoarashi-Kyokusoten
  • Ikegawa-Ichiyamamoto

Here is the tournament itself.

I’m very disappointed in Enho there. He really shouldn’t be imitating Ishiura, for crying out loud. Tochiseiryu takes care of him very quickly.

Kyokusoten is an example of an underachieving foreigner. He is a nice guy, has many friends, has decent English and a very nice shiko. But his sumo is meh.

The deciding battle is between members of the same heya (which can happen in elimination format bouts) – Chiyootori and Chiyoarashi

The winner of the Sandanme tournament won ¥50,000. The winner of the Makushita tournament won ¥70,000.

This was followed by the aforesaid “Talk Show”, whose highlight seems to be that while Tochinoshin’s favorite animal is the wolf, Mitakeumi actually likes pigs.

By the way, take a look at what Tochinoshin was wearing:

Do you think that he’ll get the same kind of flack that Hakuho got for wearing that “Mongolian Team” jersey in the Fuyu Jungyo?

(I don’t think so. First, those deadbeats probably wouldn’t recognize the Georgian flag if it spat in their eye. If Hakuho had a flag on his back rather than a phrase in English, they would probably have never caught on. Second – there’s no semi-organized effort to get Tochinoshin out of the sport. He is perceived as harmless, I guess).

After the Shokkiri, Hakuho had his rope tied. Note the symmetrical Shiranui rope:

Then came the Makuuchi and Yokozuna dohyo-iri. And then…

Sumo! Sumo! Sumo!

  • Hoktofuji – Akiseyama
  • Kotoeko – Okinoumi
  • Sadanoumi – Tochiozan
  • Ryuden – Onosho
  • Aoiyama – Ishiura
  • Nishikigi – Yutakayama

Onosho is here to win. Aoiyama is not even slightly surprised by Ishiura, catches him in mid air, and gives him the potato-sack lift. Tsuri-dashi, and Ishiura is frustrated. Please don’t do that in honbasho, Ishiura – you’ll find yourself in Juryo before you can say “hassotobi”.

And that was an impressive Nodowa Yutakayama applied to Nishikigi.

  • Myogiryu – Chiyomaru
  • Kyokutaisei – Daieisho
  • Endo – Chiyotairyu
  • Daishomaru – Takakeisho

Chiyomaru uses his famous stomach push. Daieisho with a mighty tsuppari. Daishomaru not even putting up a fight.

Now, the next set starts with Kaisei vs. Ikioi. Here is this bout in another video first – watch what happens when Kaisei lands on Shodai:

Poor Shodai. After being abused by Kaisei he is being further abused by the shimpan (not sure – is that Onomatsu oyakata?)

So here is the set of bouts:

  • Ikioi – Kaisei
  • Kagayaki – Kotoshogiku
  • Shodai – Shohozan
  • Tamawashi – Mitakeumi

I think there should have been a monoii on that Ikioi-Kaisei bout, but the shimpan’s attention was drawn elsewhere…

Did you see Kagayaki beating Kotoshogiku by… gaburi yori?

Shohozan continues his bar brawl style, and Shodai finishes this day very very frustrated.

Tamawashi has a really scary nodowa.

Finally, we have:

  • San-yaku soroi-bumi
  • Ichinojo vs. Tochinoshin
  • Kisenosato vs. Goeido
  • Kakuryu vs. Hakuho
  • Yumi-tori shiki

Ichinojo must have heard that Tochinoshin likes wolves. He came ready for the kill. Please, please, Ichinojo – that’s the Ichinojo we want to see in Aki. Not the Leaning Tower of Pizza.

Hakuho is back on the torikumi – well, it’s just the one last day. I have a hunch he’ll need to be kyujo again in Aki. Those legs don’t carry him, despite having lost a couple of kilos since Natsu.

Kasugaryu’s technique with the bow has improved! His behind-the-back passes are getting smoother.

Here is your final Enho in a black mawashi. May he never wear one again in his long, healthy sumo career:

enho

By the way, this is what he looks like today – with his newly assigned tsukebito (Takemaru and Kenyu) and white mawashi:

enho-with-tsukebito

Did Miyagino oyakata manage to find Enho a tsukebito who’s shorter than he is? Apparently so… but Takemaru is actually only 17, so this may actually change.

Jungyo over – and out!

Natsu 2018 Jungyo Newsreel – Day 19

🌐 Location: Obihiro, Hokkaido

dohyo
Preparing the dohyo

As I mentioned in my previous post, on August 17, there was a short intermission in the Jungyo as the gigantic traveling show made its way off the main island of Honshu and on to Hokkaido. While a few Isegahama men had duties with their heya and remained in Aomori, the bulk of the ensemble had some time to relax in the relative coolness of the northernmost prefecture.

And everybody who is anybody had to be seen at the BBQ hosted by Yago:

That is to say, Yago himself, Tobizaru, Takanosho, Wakatakakage, Chiyonoumi, Daieisho and Asanoyama.

Yago’s family is from Memuro, about 11km from the Jungyo’s host town of Obihiro. And so he had time to let loose at home and get charged for an eventful day the next day.

There are 20 active rikishi coming from Hokkaido, in addition to three active Oyakata from the Tokachi region, where Obihiro is located, two of whom are former Yokozuna – Hakkaku (Yokozuna Hokutoumi), Shibatayama (Yokozuna Onokuni) and Isenoumi (former Kitakachidoki) – who is from the Obihiro itself.

The two most prominent active Hokkaido rikishi are Kyokutaisei and Yago. While Kyokutaisei did get attention enough to be loved by a Yokozuna:

(Yes, this Youtuber found himself a seat I would personally kill for), the real star of the event was the even more local Yago:

Yago got loved by a mere Ozeki, but got a whole news story to himself. “I have special feelings for my home area… The gates to Makuuchi are right before me, so I’ll strive to get through them”, he says in the interview.

Moving on from the local boys, here is Takanohana working with Takakeisho:

Here is the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, west side (the one where there are actual adults). The youtuber got really personal with Takayasu:

Here is Kisenosato getting his rope tied:

The announcer tells us that the squat is an essential part of the tying process, as it ensures that the Yokozuna can perform his dohyo Iri which includes Shiko and whatnot, without anything falling off.


We have bouts today. Lots of bouts. First, Makushita had an interesting exhibition today. It’s something called “kessho gonin nuki”, and it seems that the winner is whoever beats 5 men from the opposite side in a row. The video is spread over three tweets:

Pretty impressive performance from Ichiyamamoto there.

I believe in addition to that there were also regular Makushita bouts, as I have this image of Enho vs. Nakazono:

enho-bout

Enho won this one.

We have, of course, Yago vs. Takanoiwa:

And we have rare footage from the two oldest sekitori’s bout – Takekaze vs. Uncle Sumo:

Endo again has to face a local boy (Kyokutaisei):

Daieisho vs. Takakeisho:

Ikioi vs. Chiyotairyu. A bit of a miss here at the end but I suppose it just ended there:

Here we have the sanyaku soroi-bumi (synchronized shiko), followed by Mitakeumi vs. Ichinojo:

Dammit, Ichinojo. 🙁

Finally, the highlight of the evening, Kakuryu vs. Kisenosato, in which one of the Yokozuna has a wardrobe malfunction so severe that the gyoji can’t let them stay in the same position but has to separate them to rearrange the unruly mawashi. Oopsie!

I really hollered through that one. You don’t see something like that every day.

So here is your daily Enho. You missed him, right? 🙂

enho

Tanabata Wishes

This post originates in quote-retweets I made of the relevant NSK tweets. Josh suggested I collate them into a post. So for the benefit of those who don’t follow my Twitter account, here is the collation:

tanabata

Tanabata is an ancient Japanese festival, celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month. Nowadays, it’s mostly celebrated on July 7th.

The main Tanabata custom is to write one’s wishes on a small piece of paper called “tanzaku”, hang the wishes from a bamboo – sometimes with other decorations – and then float the bamboo, wishes and all down a river or burn it around midnight or the next day.

This year Tanabata falls on Saturday, July 7th – the day before the Nagoya basho.

A couple of days ago, a rikishi-kai took place. “Rikishi-kai” is both the name of the meeting of sekitori taking place before each basho, and the body of sekitori itself. As a worker’s association, it’s pretty useless. But they have a fun meeting before each basho, sometimes raising money for charity, and sometimes just giving fans an opportunity to meet their idols and get photos.

Given the date Tanabata falls on, it’s no wonder that sekitori attending the rikishi-kai were handed tanzaku, and asked to write their wishes on them. Their wishes will be hung at the Dolphins Arena (the location of the basho) during Tanabata. Here is what they came up with:

Sokokurai: “I wish my injury to heal”. Ouch.

Yago (in an Oguruma yukata): “Promotion to Makuuchi”.

Seiro: “To aim for the top!!”. So, you wish to aim for the top or you wish to get to the top?

Hidenoumi: “Establish myself at Makuuchi”. No moro yo-yo for Mr. Magenta Mawashi, please.

Daishoho (in a Kakuryu yukata): “Promotion to Makuuchi”. Well, if a cute duck-face can get you there…

Takanosho: “Promotion to Makuuchi”. I hate to tell you this, but the gods can only arrange for a small number of promotions each basho. 😁

Takagenji and Shohozan kept their wishes a secret (they are showing the side with their names):

Daiamami (in a Fuji TV yukata? wow): “I want brand new kneecaps”. Ouch.

Up to Makuuchi, Hokutofuji wishes to advance to san-yaku:

Ishiura: “I want to make another child”. Heh, give your wife a little rest, will you? She just had a baby. Or is this just code for “I want to get some”?

Asanoyama (in the ever-popular Chiyoshoma yukata): “Double digit wins”

Nishikigi-mama: “Health above all”. Nishikigi for chairman of the board! Who’s with me?

Kyokutaisei (in a Hakuho yukata): “Have savings!!”. Let me guess, the guy is recently married. 😆

Chiyotairyu: “I need money”. Somebody please give the Kokonoe koen-kai a call. Help a poor rikishi, will ya?

Endo: “Get through the group stage”. Bruce claims this is about the Tachiai Sumo World Cup. I have a hunch he was talking about Team Japan in the FIFA World Cup. And he got his wish, though I wish those last 10 minutes would be erased from history.

(Yeah, yeah, derailed here).

Abi worrying what he should wish for. Yes, that’s his worried face.

Chiyonokuni (in the new designer Kokonoe yukata) wants to advance to sanyaku:

Shodai: “I want a watch”. I’m sure he’s not addressing the gods… You want Japanese make or Swiss make? I’ll bet many of his sashi-ire (gifts to rikishi… or prisoners…) in the coming weeks are going to be ticking.

Mitakeumi: “I want to become handsome”. Well, he is using the word “ikemen” which is a manly man kind of handsome. There has been an argument about this on Twitter, in which some of the ladies claim that he already has his wish, whereas I claim that despite his obvious sumo prowess and good nature, he looks like a carp in a mawashi.

Tochinoshin: “I want the yusho”. Well, duh!

Hakuho: “Win #1000”. He is referring to number of wins in Makuuchi – he wants to pass 1000. He won’t make it this basho, though, as he is still 17 or so short, and I’m sure he doesn’t want the gods to extend the basho to 17 days.

Finally, we end with the leader of the banzuke, the surprisingly genki yokozuna Kakuryu: “I wish not to be injured”. I’ll add my voice to that, Amen. Chuckle for coming up with a wish that requires no kanji (“kega” is written in hiragana or katakana more frequently than in kanji).

Natsu Day 3 Preview

Natsu Day 3

A bit abbreviated tonight due to urgent circumstances. Sheltering here in the wilderness of Texas, it’s become apparent that my means of watching sumo have all given out on the same day, and I am eager to return to troubleshooting my wiring. So let’s crack on. But first… Something I noticed today……

Abi-Tochinoshin

The above screen grab is from Jason’s YouTube channel today. Yes, Tochinoshin tore Abi up and fed him to the cameramen in the corner of the dohyo. Abi is young, he’s been oshi-zumo forever, and is now finding out that you can’t usually push your way to a joi win. But that’s not the point of this.

I saw a potential for something amazing. Granted its probably at least a year from now, but I think it could be damn impressive. Tochinoshin is a big, big man. He’s about maximum of what Northern Europe can produce as far as a powerful, well muscled battle wagon. Sure there are variations on that theme, but he is close to an optimum. But look at Abi. He has Tochinoshin high, head back with a powerful nodowa. That reach.. that reach..

The situation is would be more extreme against Asian opponents. If that young man can train, practice and fight on the mawashi, there could be big things for him in the future. Able to achieve a grip in situations that many others could never negotiate, he could be one of the greatest yotsu-zumo men ever.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Aoiyama vs Asanoyama – This should be a chance for Aoiyama to pick up a much needed win, but I think instead it’s going to be further validation of the theory that he’s having a lot of problems with his knees, and it is genuinely impacting his sumo. As a large fellow, and damage to his undercarriage compounds quickly, as the stress his body is already under trying to support his incumbent enormity.

Daiamami vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is still not looking 100%. This guy was the meanest tadpole in the puddle for about a year, and many were talking (justifiably) about him as a San’yaku feature by mid 2018. But like so many promising rikishi, and injury has left him adrift, and the sumo world has figured out his schtick, so now he’s not the threat he used to be. Interestingly enough, this is the first time these two have fought.

Yoshikaze vs Kagayaki – This should be a straightforward Yoshikaze win. However I fear that will not be the case. Kagayaki does not get a lot of attention because he is quiet, workman like, and very steady. He has been mid-Maegashira quite a bit, and he seems to be comfortable here. Yoshikaze won their only prior match.

Ryuden vs Ikioi – Ryuden needs to turn things around. It’s clear he is struggling, and finding his new rank a challenge. But I think given how Ikioi has been performing he is not going to find relief on day 3. Frankly, I am thrilled to see Ikioi looking genki for once, after many basho where he seemed to just be trying to survive.

Chiyotairyu vs Shodai – Can Shodai complete his Chiyo collection? The big problem here will be Shodai’s weak tachiai, and Chiyotairyu’s habit of launching like a 450 pound cannon ball at his opponent. If Shodai can survive the impact, and if the sideburns don’t grab a hold and pin him to the clay, he will have a narrow window to try to do something effective. I can’t wait to see what that is.

Mitakeumi vs Abi – Sucks to be Abi this week. Next up is King Tadpole. I know he’s going to deliver a lot of oshi to Mitakeumi, but I also do think Mitakeumi is going to let it bother him too much. Fans who are curious as I am, let’s see what kind of impact Abi’s superior reach has on the early moments of Mitakeumi’s battle plan.

Daieisho vs Ichinojo – Daieisho has been fighting well, not winning much, but putting a lot of effort into his matches. But the bad news for him is the appearance of Ichinojo on the west side of the fight card. Right now the Boulder looks to be in charge most matches, and as long as they keep the ice cream flowing, he might just keep winning.

Tochinoshin vs Tamawashi – The Ozeki hopeful will work to get a shallow belt grip against a Mongolian hitting machine. And he hits HARD when he can set up his offense. So Tochinoshin’s going to take a couple of angry blows on his way to his 3rd win.

Endo vs Goeido – Great test for Goeido 2.1. Endo is happy to find ways to stalemate his opponents, much as Kakuryu does. I heard there is a new feature that takes care of this logic loop in the prior Goeido version. If Endo wants to hold a San’yaku slot, he needs to surprise a couple of top men with a visit to the zabuton.

Shohozan vs Hakuho – Shohozan is no easy mark, but we may see him surprise a Hakuho that looks increasingly out of his comfort zone. Money on the toes or that right knee. Any way to goes, I have confidence he will pull out of the tournament if things get too serious. But like the other Yokozuna match, Shohozan has yet to find any way to defeat Hakuho.

Kakuryu vs Kaisei – Not sure what kind of offense Kaisei can produce here. Kakuryu has 12-0 against him. Possibly a snooze fest.