Natsu Day 3 Highlights

After behaving itself for the first 2 days, the Natsu basho decided it was time to mix things up a bit, and let the men at the top of the banzuke taste some clay. All around it was a solid day of sumo, with some real crowd pleasers in the mix, and a couple of worrying indications about some favorites. Let’s launch.

Day 3 Highlights

Takagenji defeats Daishoho – Takagenji takes his third win of the basho over a frustrated Daishoho. Takagenji got the better of the tachiai, and was able to land a deep left hand inside, blocking Daishoho from getting his preferred grip. It seemed Daishoho kept trying to get something going with his blocked right hand, leaving Takagenji to control the match. Daishoho rallied for a moment, but he had no offensive sumo to work with today.

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – A lightning tachiai from Chiyoshoma nearly carried the match, but Kotoeko was able to dodge the follow up attack and rally. Both men loaded throws, but Kotoeko pulled Chiyoshoma away from his pivot leg and dropped him to the clay. Fast thinking and great execution from Kotoeko today.

Enho defeats Sadanoumi – You don’t get to see enough leg-picks in the top division, but Enho had this one dialed in. He went after Sadanoumi’s bandaged right knee, and there was nothing Sadanoumi could do to stop the loss.

Chiyomaru defeats Tokushoryu – Chiyomaru opens 3-0 after Tokushoryu can’t seem to remember how to win an oshi battle. Tokushoryu really looked like he could not commit to oshi or yotzu, and Chiyomaru made him pay.

Shimanoumi defeats Shohozan – Shimanoumi finally picks up his first win, after enduring a few good blows from Shohozan. Shimanoumi was able to lock up Shohozan’s arms, and keep him on defense.

Tomokaze defeats Onosho – Good defensive footwork by Tomokaze, he absorbed Onosho’s tachiai, and was able to stand him up, move to the side, and force the tadpole out.

Kagayaki defeats Nishikigi – Kagayaki takes control of the tachiai, coming in low and strong and hitting Nishikigi before he could even get his hands off the shikiri-sen. From there it was all Mr. Fundamentals, who seems to have shaken off some of his ring rust.

Asanoyama defeats Meisei – I really like the way Asanoyama is fighting right now. Although that sumo was some of this / some of that, Asanoyama kept a single focus of being close, inside and moving forward. It paid off as Meisei really had no chance to do anything other than react.

Kaisei defeats Shodai – Shodai has yet to take one from the Brazilian (you’ll sometimes see their head-to-head written as 1-9, but that 1 is a fusen –PinkMawashi), and I think its because Kaisei knows that Shodai’s tachiai is the worst in the top division, and as long as he can keep Shodai from moving laterally, he’s a cream puff.

Ryuden defeats Yoshikaze – Zero forward pressure from Yoshikaze. Whatever is affecting him physically has robbed him of any offensive power, which is terrible because Yoshikaze’s sumo is mostly attack.

Abi defeats Chiyotairyu – This was won at the tachiai, as Abi was able to engage first and dictate the terms of the match. Chiyotairyu struggled to even get his footing, let along respond to the double arm thrust attack common to Abi-zumo.

Daieisho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama had nothing today. Zip. Zero. Daieisho brought his best sumo: center mass, moving forward strongly. Right now Daieisho is doing well for Maegashira 2, and I am curious to see what kind of hell he takes from the Ozeki.

Tochinoshin defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi made him work for it, but the crowd was cheering for Tochinoshin. It’s safe to say that for the moment, Tochinoshin looks genki and he is back to being a fearsome competitor. Tochinoshin landed his left hand early, and although Okinoumi had a lot of moves he unleashed trying to break that grip, Tochinoshin held fast.

Tamawashi defeats Ichinojo – Textbook denshamichi-sumo. Tamawashi was the Shinkansen and Ichinojo was in no position to stop him. Tamawashi put everything into a center-mass contact at the tachiai, and engaged full power forward.

Mitakeumi defeats Takayasu – Clearly Takayasu is not in good physical condition. Furthermore his sumo seems to have gotten into a vague and unaggressive state. With Takayasu’s feet seldom in good position, Mitakeumi found himself able to control the Ozeki, and bring him off balance to slap him down.

Endo defeats Goeido – Goeido-unit suffered a critical malfunction when his attempt to get a mawashi hold at the tachiai failed, and Endo capitalized on the momentary break in the Ozeki’s concentration. Endo is capable, but fans wonder why we don’t see him execute on that level every match.

Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho’s initial shove did not find its mark, and Hokutofuji closed the gap to the point where Takakeisho could not set up the wave train. Hokutofuji’s opening gambit had a very narrow path to success, but he made it work.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Yes, but just barely. Kotoshogiku surprised the Yokozuna with a fierce hybrid attack rather than the usual “hug-n-chug”. In reaction (that’s Kakuryu’s thing, you see), the Yokozuna loaded a throw and they both went over together, but Kotoshogiku’s right forearm made it to the clay first. (shortly followed by Kakuryu’s head. We hope he’s ok after that. –PinkMawashi)

Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

Hakuho Dohyo Iri Day 2

The fans were out in force today in Nagoya, and I mean everyone was far too warm and fanning themselves with vigor. Parts of Japan are facing a very moist and hot summer this year, which is natural for that part of the world. While it may be uncomfortable for the fans sitting near the dohyo, it’s brutal on the clay, under the hot lights and struggling to out muscle a 400 pound opponent. Worse still is the lot of the gyoji. Not only do they have to stay up there for a series of matches, as the day wears on (and the temperatures rise), the regalia the gyojis wear increases in layers, accessories and complexities. One has to assume that during the Makuuchi matches, the poor gyoji is drenched in his own broth.

Highlight Matches

Hokutofuji defeats Akiseyama – Hokutofuji looking decidedly less awesome today in his win over Juryo visitor Akiseyama.

Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – Ishiura delivers some decent sumo today, stays mobile and keeps Kotoeko off balance. As a result he is able to stick the uwatedashinage for a respectable win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – The only thing more impressive than the way that Okinoumi was able to keep Asanoyama away form his belt was the moment Asanoyama says, “To hell with it”, and just rolls Okinoumi over and thrusts him down.

Onosho defeats Arawashi – Nice tachiai from Arawashi, who worked to get a right hand on the mawashi from the start, but Onosho overpowered every attempt and controlled the match. The end features a classic Arawashi cartwheel / tumble.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji never really was able to generate much offense against Endo, who absorbed the tachiai and turned the Isegahama man, then stepped out of the way when Takarafuji pressed forward.

Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – Big Chiyotairyu unleashes denshamichi-sumo (railroad sumo) on Yoshikaze and derails any hope the berserker might have had for a day 2 win.

Kaisei defeats Daishomaru – Its hard to describe a giant, lumbering rikishi as genki, but so far Kaisei is really looking dialed into his sumo. He made quick work of Daishomaru.

Takakeisho defeats Kagayaki – This was always going to be an odd match. Takakeisho got the better of the tachiai, but Kagayaki set up the oshi attack first, and best by getting inside. There were a couple of kinetic slaps that really rang out during the match, at one point the crowd gasps, as these two held nothing back. Then Kagayaki decided to go for a haymaker aimed at Takakeisho’s face, and lost focus. Sad mistake, Mr Fundamentals, as Takakeisho dropped his hips and gave him one blast of the “wave action tsuppari” and that was all it took to send Kagayaki clear of the tawara. This was the first time that Takakeisho was able to beat Kagayaki.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – As we previewed, Abi’s reach advantage is meaningless against Ichinojo. But Abi’s extreme maneuverability nearly carried the day, as he circled to his left and got behind the Mongolian, and nearly shoved him out. To his credit, Ichinojo recovered rapidly. The near loss clearly energized him and he attacked with purpose, getting a mawashi grip and finishing Abi in seconds. I do like Abi, but I pray he expands his sumo before everyone figures out how to shut down his only effective attack.

Mitakeumi defeats Ikioi – Great effort from both men, a solid tachiai followed by decision to go for the belt. Sadly it looks like Ikioi went too far forward reaching down to Mitakeumi’s hips, and Mitakeumi deftly encouraged him to follow through and hit the clay. Will Mitakeumi finally hit double digits?

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – They had a tough time getting this one started, but the actual match featured a Goeido hit and shift, so lksumo was nearly correct (he was expecting a Goeido henka). Tamawashi sailed past Goeido and into Shohozan’s ringside lap.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyonokuni – Tochinoshin likely knew going into this one that he would never get a hand on Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and might very well injure himself if he tried too hard. So he chose to meet Chiyonokuni with his own brand of flailing oshi-zumo that included a couple of half hearted attempts at the mawashi. Just to be clear, when you have someone that strong putting his elbow into your face, that’s going to be a big deal. He overwhelmed the faster, more mobile Chiyonokuni and it was over in a hurry.

Takayasu wins against Shohozan – Takayasu gets a freebee as Shohozan absorbs a pride-obliterating slipiotoshi and falls down on the dohyo after he clearly established the upper hand in the match. Officially recorded as a tsukihiza (knee touch down), it’s one of the non-winning moves (more or less, a losing move). Takayasu looks quite iffy right now. At least he can bank 2 wins in 2 days, but his fans all need to hope he’s not too hurt, and can get his sumo together.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Wow, Kakuryu is looking very solid right now. He accepted Kotoshogiku’s invitation to go chest to chest, and Kotoshogiku engaged in as much hug-n-chug as he could muster. But in true Kakuryu form, he kept shifting his weight from foot to foot, preventing Kotoshogiku from pumping with both legs. As his rocking motion increased, he danced Kotoshogiku to the tawara and followed through with a classic uwatenage. Excellent form by Kakuryu today.

Hakuho defeats Shodai – No cartoon sumo for Shodai today. No anvils, Acme brand giant magnets or pianos dropping from the sky. The first time through, Hakuho launches for the kill straight off the line, with the gyoji screaming matta and chasing him down. Hakuho follows through and puts Shodai out (that’s how you do it), but they are going to try again. What was fun about the second match was it was more or less identical to the first. Hakuho wins, and looked quite solid doing it.