Kyushu Day 4 Highlights

Wakatakakage defeats Terutsuyoshi. It was a quick oshi-battle with Wakatakakage proving strongest, slapping Terutsuyoshi to the edge and ushering him back, off the dohyo, yorikiri. It was a costly win as Wakatakakage was visibly in pain after the win. He had seemed to twist his right ankle. Wakatakakage is undefeated but now uncertain for tomorrow. Terutsuyoshi is 2-2. The next five bouts are a snooze fest, so I’m not bothered if you skip down to Shohozan/Kotoshogiku.

Daishoho defeats Nishikigi. The two locked in immediately on one another’s belt with a strong tachiai. Daishomaru was stronger with his left-hand grip and was able to work Nishikigi out for the yorikiri win, his first of the tournament. Nishikigi fell to 2-2 while Daishoho got his first win of the tournament.

Daishomaru defeats Chiyomaru. Daishomaru executed a subtle sidestep on the tachiai, catching Chiyomaru off-guard. Daishomaru used the considerable combined momentum to keep the pair moving forward until the bright chartreuse mawashi of Chiyomaru was out for the oshidashi win.

Ishiura defeats Takanosho. Ishiura’s quick slap to Takanosho’s face on the tachiai seemed to disorient Takanosho. Ishiura engaged low and effectively leveraged Takanosho out. Yorikiri.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kagayaki. Chiyotairyu got the best of the tachiai, duplicating Ishiura’s tactic of the slap at the tachiai. It seemed to catch Kagayaki half-asleep because Chiyotairyu was just much more active and forceful, guiding the golden Kagayaki out over the bales, stage left. Yorikiri.

Shodai defeats Shimanoumi. Shodai remains undefeated at 4-0. He was the bigger man and played his game. He absorbed Shimanoumi’s tachiai and used his size advantage and solid yotsu grip to push Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri.

Shohozan defeats Kotoshogiku. Shohozan’s half henka disrupted Kotoshogiku’s usual bumpety, bumpety game plan. Kotoshogiku recovered and locked in for a lean-fest. After a few seconds of leaning, Shohozan struck Kotoshogiku with a swift kick with the right foot and then twisted around and threw Kotoshogiku with a beautiful uwatenage in the first actual makuuchi match of the day.

Sadanoumi defeats Yutakayama. After the excitement of the Shohozan/Kotoshogiku battle, Sadanoumi put me back to sleep with a quick, easy win over Yutakayama. Sadanoumi got the better of the tachiai and walked Yutakayama out. What else? Yorikiri.

Tsurugisho defeats Onosho. In the second makuuchi bout of the day, Onosho started in with some tsuppari but Tsurugisho wasn’t having any of it, reached out for Onosho’s head, and shoved him to the clay. Hatakikomi.

Enho defeats Kotoeko. Kotoeko did not want to let Enho submarine him and get a belt grip, forcing the two into an oshi tsuppari battle. This worked to Enho’s advantage as he was much more aggressive and Kotoeko was just trying to react and deflect. When Enho charged, Kotoeko pulled but Enho maintained his balance, kept the lavender mawashi firmly in front. One final shove from the bales sent Kotoeko into the first row of spectators.

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi. This was a textbook Aoiyama bout. The tachiai was solid with neither man really gaining an advantage. Aoiyama pushed Tamawahi’s head up and then used his reach to grab Tamawashi’s head and pull him down as he pulled back to the tawara. Hatakikomi.

Kotoyuki defeats Ryuden. This was a textbook Kokoyuki bout. He overpowered Ryuden with fierce tsuppari. Ryuden could not figure out a counter attack and the Penguin cast him from the playing surface, into the crowd. Next time, have a game plan, Ryuden. It’s not like Kotoyuki is a puzzle. Everyone knows what tricks he’s got.

Meisei defeats Abi. Meisei shifted right at the tachiai and I thought this was his undoing because Abi read it well and the tactic brought Meisei close to the tawara. But he stayed low and almost coiled. That seemed to give him enough purchase and leverage to work against Abi who was far too high. Meisei struck out from that coil, again and again at Abi’s high stance, forcing the komusubi off the dohyo.

Asanoyama defeats Myogiryu Solid tachiai and Myogiryu immediately went on the attack but he couldn’t generate any effective momentum against the man mountain. Asanoyama practiced patience and fundamentals while Myogiryu feverishly bounced around like Roger Rabbit. Asanoyama stayed composed with his arms wrapped around Myogiryu

Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi. Mitakeumi laid into Daieisho from the tachiai with some forceful tsuppari. But Daieisho weathered the outer bands of the hurricane and countered by stepping forward into the eye of the storm where the battering stopped and he was able to lock in with both hands on Mitakeumi’s mawashi, turning the tables and forcing him out. The first entertaining yorikiri bout of the day.

Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji. Both guys are belt guys, so after a solid tachiai, the two settled into a grapple at the center of the dohyo. With the sky crane out of service, the Georgian needs a bigger bag of tricks and he sure found an effective one. He reached up behind Takarafuji’s neck (yes, he has one) and executed a great twisting neck throw. Kubihineri. I’m impressed.

Takakeisho defeats Endo. This matchup is a total contrast of styles; Endo’s a solid belt guy while T-Rex can’t reach belts. On the tachiai, Endo tried to reach in to get a belt grip but Takakeisho forced him away in, I think, the best sign that he does still have power in those thrusts. With the bout being fought on Takakeisho’s terms, Endo was at a disadvantage. As he tried again to lean in and get a belt hold, Takakeisho slapped him down for the hatakikomi win.

Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu. All the drama and pre-match staring lasted longer than the fight! Hokutofuji shifted left after a firm tachiai. The shift was perfectly timed as Takayasu had just started to charge forward again. Finding nothing there he grasped out wildly to try to get a hold of something to arrest his momentum. Hokutofuji used that momentum to thrust the ozeki into the crowd. Oshidashi.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi. This was like an old Hakuho/Harumafuji matchup: a great belt battle. Okinoumi did more than just try to hang on. Twice he tried to initiate an attack, trying to lift the Yokozuna. Hakuho countered by guiding the action to the edge and then pivoting the pair over the edge, with the Boss landing on top of an exhausted Okinoumi.

So, the yusho race is led by Shodai with Wakatakakage limping into tomorrow. What is this world coming to? Let’s face it, there’s not a yusho race, yet. See where we stand at Day 10 and how many wrestlers have their kachi-koshi in the bag then. There will be no zensho and 12 may be enough to take the Cup. The race is open and Kotoshogiku’s just about the only one out of it.

Natsu Day 7 Highlights

I’m going to start here because I’m hungry and will fill in gaps later.

Takakeisho has been looking rather putrid as Mr. Green and Daishomaru has made a stronger case to star in the role. In their head-to-head today, Takakeisho came out swinging, and put Daishomaru into a pulling, defensive mode. With a strong thrust from close to the edge, Daishomaru spun Takakeisho around and moved swiftly for the finishing move. Oshidashi. Daishomaru stays in the yusho race with one loss while Takakeisho picks up his fifth. At M10W, Takakeisho will need to relight that fire quickly if he doesn’t want to stumble further down the banzuke in July. (Wow, we’re already talking about July? Where has this year gone?)

Chiyomaru got elbowed by the falling Takakeisho while waiting for his own match against Hokutofuji. Perhaps unsurprisingly he was unable to overcome the pressure from Hokutofuji. After a really long stare-down where the crowd began to wonder when they’d go at each other, the two finally attacked. Hokutofuji quickly had Chiyomaru back to the tawara but Chiyomaru danced along for quite some time. Hokutofuji sustained pressure, briefly getting a hold of Chiyomaru’s belt, before eventually working him off the dohyo on the other side.
Kotoshogiku faced the struggling Ryuden. You’ve got one guess: quick hippity-hop yorikiri win for the veteran. Kotoshogiku seems to have finally found his stride at M5E. With only an outside threat of needing to face the meat grinder, perhaps he can return to winning form. Admittedly, I’d written off this former kadoban twin, thinking, “he’s done; he’ll retire.” I’m glad to see him doing well. He’s become the bit of good news when thinking about his ozeki brethren.

Ikioi bounced back from yesterday’s setback against Chiyomaru with a bit of an easy one against Yoshikaze. The berserker was nowhere to be found as his more passive twin brother mounted the dohyo, tussled around a bit to get Ikioi’s belt. But Ikioi was having none of it and walked the man in purple over the salt box.
Shodai absorbed Takarafuji’s strong tachiai and tried for a throw. The funny thing is, as Shodai tipped over for the throw, he lost his balance while Uncle Takara stayed up and pressed forward, forcing Shodai to step out. Daieisho picked up his first win of the tournament with a quick demonstration of HOW TO EXECUTE A PULL. Take notes, Goeido-chan. Tamawashi brought a strong tachiai and committed to driving Daieisho backwards. But Daieisho didn’t want to go backwards. He went sideways, upending Tamawashi who thankfully saved himself from a nasty tumble and possible saltbox enema.

Kaisei disrupted Mitakeumi’s momentum…which seems rather natural come to think of it. Mitakeumi had been on a bit of a roll with his wins the last couple of days. As Kaisei charged, I got a feeling Mitakeumi was going for a pull but right when I thought he’d execute it, Kaisei’s massive left arm grabbed a firm hold of that purple mawashi. With a few more seconds of hug-and-chug, Kaisei picked up his second win of the tournament. Mitakeumi falls to 4-3.

Shohozan v Ichinojo was a beautiful bout. Rather than coming out swinging with fierce butsukari, the bruiser holstered his weapons in Ichinojo’s armpits. A grappling bout? Interesting, and a bit unexpected. When the monster reached out with his right arm to grab Shohozan’s mawashi, Shohozan moved for a brilliantly executed throw, leaving Ichinojo in a heap. Third straight loss for the Mongolian.

The Decisive Moment: Quick, who wins?

As we found out last night, Endo injured his bicep and withdrew from the tournament. This handed Tochinoshin his seventh victory. Does this mean Ozeki talk doesn’t start until 11 now? I am glad to see the quick decision to have Endo pull out and recover from his injury. We wish him a full, successful recovery. Another unfortunate implication, no one gets to win that fat stack of kensho.

Abi’s been eating his Wheaties. Goeido charged, full on at the tachiai, committed to moving forward. We should like this. This is a good sign. However, rather than meet him with his chest, Abi raised those long arms, stepped to the side, and deflected the Ozeki into the dirt. No henka here, just solid sumo from a rising star.

Chiyotairyu’s been having a great tournament. He may continue to have a great tournament after today but Mr. Brown is back. None of the wild, out of control Hakuho from the first few days. This was a calm, collected, strong dismantling of the younger rikishi. A firmly met tachiai, a quick tussle as the yokozuna’s quickly found a left-handed grip, and while his opponent flailed around to find a grip, he gave up searching for a right-hand grip in favor of a straight drive forward. Today, the yokozuna was back in control.

In the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu faced the “Sometimes Y” of Yutakayama. Today was not one of those times. Actually, so far this tournament has not been one of those times. Yutakayama’s been struggling but did look strong against the yokozuna. This was no belt-battle or slug-fest. It was more like repeated tachiais as the two billy-goats would drive into each other, Kakuryu would then try to pull, it would fail, rinse and repeat…until Yutakayama’s knee over extended and he tumbled out onto the head shimpan. Both yokozuna stay in the hunt with Daishomaru and Chiyonokuni.

Kyushu Day 1 Highlights

kyushu-day1

Enough Oshidashi To Go Around

A good start to the Kyushu basho, with an odd prevalence of push-out wins (Oshidashi / 押し出し). Final bout featured Tamawashi (Komusubi) dispatching Yokozuna Harumafuji with ease.

It was great to see Hakuho in action once more, but today’s bout was not a great example of his fighting form. Goeido announced to the world he takes his Yokozuna run seriously, as once again we saw his total, near reckless commitment to offense, and some really nice work by my favorite:  Yoshikaze!

In Juryo Osunaarashi won, but Amakaze, Daieisho and Ura lost – as the second division train-wreck seems to have continued from Aki

A lot of the rikishi looked off balance and unprepared for their matches. Quite a change from most of the prior tournaments.

Notable highlights

Toyohibiki defeats Gagamaru – This was not much of a match, as Gagamaru looked weak and off balance from the Tachiai

Sokokurai defeats Ichinojo – Ok, we saw the smaller Ichinojo, but he looked weak and quite out of his element. He offered token resistance to Sokokurai, but Sokokurai kept the pressure up and just walked the big Mongolian out

Hokutofuji defeats Daishomaru – Fast match with some early slaps and a rapid exit by Daishomaru

Ikioi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu tried to pull Ikioi out of the ring, and Ikioi obliged by pushing Myogiryu out first. Myogiryu looked off balance from the start.

Takarafuji defeats Nishikigi – In contrast to many of the other men in action today, these two showed up ready to wrestle. It was a strength match with Takarafuji having the upper hand for most of the bout. Excellent strength and resistance from Nishikigi though.

Shodai defeats Kotoyuki – This is more like it. Excellent slapping / pushing match! Kotoyuki opened very strong, throwing Shodai back, and nearly out. Shodai recovered his balance but was back to the tawara, but Kotoyuki was off balance and Shodai pulled him into the spectators.

Takayasu defeats Endo – Endo was completely out-matched. Takayasu stayed low and just powered Endo out of the ring. There were some doubts about his readiness, but todays bout was completely one-sided.

Yoshikaze defeats Terunofuji – Yoshikaze took command straight from the tachiai, and never let up. Terunofuji made one attempt to throw Yoshikaze, but Yoshikaze countered by picking up Terunofuji and lifting him out of the ring, for a really welcome Tsuridashi

Kisenosato defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama was completely out-classed, and Kisenosato seems to be back to his winning ways. It was over in seconds as Kisenosato just smoothly pushed the Bulgarian directly out in the blink of an eye.

Goeido defeats Tochiozan – Goeido maintains the form he showed during Aki. Near reckless commitment to pure offense! He overpowered Tochiozan who actually put up a solid effort, nearly pulling to Ozeki down moments before losing. Goeido is deadly serious about his Yokozuna run.

Hakuho defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi is clearly injured, it’s kind of heartbreaking to watch him. Hakuho actually did not show strong sumo today, but instead pulled Okinoumi down early in the match. Is the Yokozuna trying to ease back into is sport?

Tamawashi defeats Harumafuji – The day finished with an upset as Tamawashi fairly easily dispatched Yokozuna Harumafuji. Harumafuji was off balance at the tachiai, and Tamawashi simply turned him, and marched him to the edge.