Kyushu Day 13 Preview

We are kicking off the final 3 days of the Kyushu basho. It looks almost certain that Hakuho will pick up the Emperor’s cup for the 43rd time, and he will need yet another warehouse in Chiba to store all of that beef he has coming his way. While we wait for “The Boss” to once again face limp condemnation from the YDC over even the slightest breech of protocol, the schedulers are showing us that with so many middling records, it’s Darwin matches for everyone. Coming out of today, we will have at least 3 new make-koshi rikishi, and possibly a few new cremates for the rikishi already aboard the slow, smelly barge back to Juryo.

On the subject of Hakuho, its true that I am a fan. But I have a secret hope, in that Hakuho lingers a while longer past his 2020 Olympics goal. Just long enough to have one of the new generation beat him straight up for a yusho. Bonus points if it’s Takakeisho or Asanoyama. Why? He’s the greatest rikishi of our time, and possibly any time. But some of his stuff just seems to beg for a “comeuppance”. The passing of the torch basho have been punctuations to end of dominant Yokozuna careers since I became a fan of sumo before Chiyonofuji faded from dominance. May “The Boss” face a fitting and noble close to his the career, going out guns blazing, but no longer able to dominate the new generation.

Kyushu Leaderboard

Shodai??? Shodai!!! Shodai…

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: None
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Shodai

3 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Daishomaru vs Azumaryu – Azumaryu has a kachi-koshi at the top of Juryo, and a healthy number of Makuuchi rikishi eligible for demotion. I would guess “Mr A” is coming back for January. He faces the bosun of the Juryo barge, Daishomaru, who holds a 3-1 career advantage. May not help him today.

Shimanoumi vs Nishikigi – More of “Club Make-Koshi” fight it out in this first ever match between a flagging Nishikigi and a surprisingly low-scoring Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi has had a few very good fights in those 4 wins, but it seems he’s headed downward as well.

Daishoho vs Yutakayama – The captain of the Juryo barge meets a man on the hunt for his 8th win. Daishoho is 0-3 against Yutakayama, so I am going to guess this is a “gimme” match, it’s also a Maegashira 15 facing off against a Maegashira 9. Hoo boy. I am looking forward to lksumo’s assessment in a few weeks of where a few of these pivotal rikishi of the new era are going to rank for Hatsu.

Kotoshogiku vs Ishiura – Ishiura is operating at a new level of sumo, one not seen since his Makuuchi debut 3 years ago in Kyushu. The relic of Kotoshogiku will do his best to blunt Ishiura’s superior agility with strength, bulk and forward power. Let’s hope the Kyushu bulldozer has a few more big matches in him.

Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Is it just me, or do you hear Kagayaki grumbling all the way from Kyushu. He seemed genuinely cranky following his day 12 loss to Ishiura, and I expect that he has frustrations he needs to express. Via hitting Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi, for his part, still needs 2 wins, and seems very focused and orderly about the process. I think this comes down to who’s head is in the match.

Shohozan vs Chiyomaru – One more win needed by hometown brawler “Big Guns” Shohozan to pick up his kachi-koshi, and it may come today against Chiyomaru. Big Maru may have good cause to not push things too hard, he is already kachi-koshi, and needs to make sure he stays healthy for January.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi is also in the “needs one more win” club, and although he and Kotoeko are evenly matched on paper, Kotoeko is having a terrible tournament. If Terutsuyoshi fights like he has during week 2, this should be kachi-koshi interview for him.

Tsurugisho vs Chiyotairyu – A Tsurugisho loss here would sort him into the make-koshi bin, and he comes in with a 4 bout losing streak. Chiyotairyu, however, is my candidate for a day 15 Darwin match.

Shodai vs Enho – These two have never fought before, and I am eager to see how Enho’s busy “grab anything and tug” technique works against Shodai’s cartoon sumo. Shodai has the size, and some kind of other-worldly luck, but Enho has speed, agility and a solid belief that he can win against anyone. Guess if you practice against the dai-Yokozuna and beat him once in a while, everyone else seems like a bag of Showa-era rice.

Onosho vs Takanosho – Onosho gets my second nomination for day 7 Darwin match, and I think he’s got quite the hill to climb to get to 8 wins, but I think he can do it. Today’s fight against Takanosho is going to be tough for him, as Takanosho has much better footwork and balance. Onosho holds the power and speed advantage, and they are tied 1-1 from their 2 prior matches.

Aoiyama vs Ryuden – Hey, Big Dan, do us a favor and knock Ryuden around a bit before you give him a clay facial. I love Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi’s sumo, but yesterday’s henka feels like we need a penalty round for him. Please do oblige.

Meisei vs Okinoumi – Loser of this match is make-koshi, and Meisei is 0-3 against Okinoumi over his career. The winner of this bout is another good candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Daieisho vs Myogiryu – More Darwin appointees ahoy! I think that this one favors Daieisho due to his superior osha-attack form, so it will come down to if Daieisho can get the inside position at the tachiai, or if Myogiryu can disrupt him and get a mawashi hold.

Kotoyuki vs Asanoyama – Asanoyama has fallen out of the yusho hunt, but the possibility of him stamping his card for his first ever Ozeki bid is still very much in play. Informed prognosticators (like Tachiai’s very own lksumo) tend to think he needs to be at least 11-4 at Kyushu, so the man is on the hunt fo 2 more wins. Today he goes up against “The Penguin” Kotoyuki, who has upped the power of his flipper attacks. Regardless of the outcome, he is another strong candidate for a Darwin match on day 15.

Hokutofuji vs Tamawashi – The scheduler decide that one of these men is make-koshi today, call it a “Mini Darwin” if you would. Both of them are big, strong and pack a lot of power in their thrusts. I give stability advantage to Tamawashi, and speed advantage and “willing to try anything twice” advantage to Hokutofuji.

Takarafuji vs Endo – Our second “Mini Darwin” of the day, as the schedulers telegraph in big, ultra-blobby Kanji that day 15 is going to be survival of the fittest. Loser is make-koshi, and we get to see if that day 12 upper-cut left Endo dazed or stunned. If Takarafuji can shut down his opening gambit, it’s going to be a tough day for the Golden One.

Takakeisho vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi surprised me on day 12, and maybe he’s doing a bit better after that day 3 knock to the head. I am sure Takakeisho’s ego is smarting from that day 12 Ryuden henka, and I hope we see a big battle of frustration and angst played out between these two. Mitakeumi needs 2 more wins to hold Sekiwake, and I am sure that having his 3rd bid for Ozeki slip away from him is not bothering him at all…

Abi vs Hakuho – Abi has beaten Hakuho once in their 2 matches. Can he catch lightning in a bottle today? I would not count on it, as Hakuho knows how to win no matter what. I would suppose it comes down to the tachiai face slap coming from “The Boss”. If that fails to find its mark, it might be just the chance Abi needs to apply his sumo. Kintamayama has been including comments on Abi’s “one dimensional” style, and there are many who cite that as a limit to his sumo. But I recall that the same was true of Kotoshogiku. Regardless of todays outcome, Abi is part of the future of sumo, and Hakuho is increasingly part of sumo history.

Kyushu Day 9 Highlights

There was some first-rate sumo today, and as expected the match between Takakeisho and Hokutofuji was the barn-burner highlight of the day. But Mitakeumi also seems to be shaking off the fog of his earlier concussion, and getting closer to normal fighting form. Plus great moves from Shohozan as he shifts gears and decides that while hitting his opponent is fun and good cardio, sometimes you just need to give the other guy a brutal battle hug.

Highlight Matches

Tochiozan defeats Daishomaru – Welcome back Tochiozan, you can see the experience he brings to the dohyo giving him the edge in controlling this match. Take a look at who holds the center of the dohyo for most of the match. Tochiozan has solid offense, but his defense was nearly unassailable today.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Ishiura – Terutsuyoshi drove harder into the tachiai, and Ishiura was unhappy with his resulting hand placement. As he moved to get better position, Terutsuyoshi advanced with strength and was the winner. Ishiura had solid defensive footing, but Terutsuyoshi showed a lot of strength today, and kept low.

Shodai defeats Daishoho – Hey, Shodai had a half decent tachiai today! He had both hands inside within a blink of an eye, and advanced. Daishoho had no answer and took the loss after it was clear he was beaten. Not sure what injury is plaguing Daishoho, but he may be an early favorite for the barge of the damned headed to Juryo.

Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – I love that Kagayaki is getting comfortable fighting, and now winning chest to chest with his opponent. His oshi-zumo form has been pretty good, but if he can get even a few solid yotsu moves in his toolkit, I predict he will frequent higher spots on the banzuke. I always preach that his fundaments are very good, and you can see them on display. His upper body is a bit awkward, but his defensive foot placement is excellent. I love how low he keeps his feet as he steps forward. That man can transmit power to ground.

Takanosho defeats Yutakayama – Takanosho exceeded my expectations today, his tachiai took him inside, and he did not waste a moment of his superior position. Yutakayama had a good defense ready, but Takanosho was able to pin Yutakayama’s right arm against his body, and lift Yutakayama as he advanced. Unable to generate much forward pressure to counter Takanosho’s attack, Yutakayama stepped out and took the loss.

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – Wow! Look at that tachiai from Chiyotairyu. But even more impressive is Sadanoumi skids to a halt and drops immediately into attack position as Chiyotairyu rushes in. With an opponent like Chiyotairyu lumbering into him, Sadanoumi absorbs the second hit and rolls to his right, and no force on earth can slow Chiyotairyu’s advance. Down he goes. Great defensive gambit and execution by Sadanoumi today.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikigi – Kotoeko seems to finally be on a rally, and I am happy to see him fighting well at last. Nishikigi owned the first part of this match, and Kotoeko put all of his strength into slowing down Nishikigi’s attack, and keeping his feet in the ring, waiting for his chance. That chance came soon enough, as Nishikigi surged to finish Kotoeko, but Kotoeko evaded and send Nishikigi out. Defensive sumo done well, and a well earned win for Kotoeko.

Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – I suspect the matta disrupted Tsurugisho’s battle plan, as the second attempt at the tachiai was all Chiyomaru.

Enho defeats Kotoshogiku – Watching Enho busily harry Kotoshogiku was kind of a wonder. I would guess that Enho was executing 2 moves to every 1 of Kotoshogiku, and it completely overwhelmed the former Ozeki. In typical Enho style, he grabs any stray body part that is closest to him and starts tugging with enthusiasm. Much like some over amorous terrier addressing your leg, the immediate reaction is “get that thing off of me!”. During this visceral, human reaction, Enho merrily defeats you. You can’t be too upset about it either, because let’s face it – he’s adorable.

Shohozan defeats Onosho – Wow! Big Guns starts his day with rapid fire double hand face massage to Onosho, and scales it up to volleys of haymakers to Onosho’s enormous head. In self-defense, Onosho closes the distance and goes chest to chest. Ever the full-service opponent, Shohozan obliges and gives Onosho a jolly heave-ho via an expertly delivered uwatenage, with a spicy leg lift to give it an extra flair. Great match.

Aoiyama defeats Takarafuji – As happens most times these two match, Takarafuji suffers terribly and gets a trip to the clay at the hands of Big Dan and the V-Twin attack.

Meisei defeats Myogiryu – Meisei expertly deployed a hard tachiai, a quick thrust combo into a side step at Myogiryu charged to take advantage. Exquisitely timed by Meisei.

Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Daieisho tends to dominate his matches with Asanoyama, I think in part because Daieisho can really move hard into the tachiai. Today Asanoyama was able to get a workable outside grip and focused on getting Daieisho off balance, and succeeded. Asanoyama stays 1 behind Hakuho.

Okinoumi defeats Endo – Another great match, both of these rikishi are master technicians, and they brought out their extensive sumo toolboxes today, and put it all into the match. Feel free to watch it a few times, because it’s a guidebook on attack, counter-attack and improvisation.

Abi defeats Ryuden – As predicted, Ryuden was struggling, and by the time Abi landed the second volley, he was completely disrupted and headed for the clay. You can see him using his best counter-attack strategy, lifting Abi’s elbows from underneath. This has managed to shut down Abi-zumo a couple of times, but Ryuden can’t make it stick today.

Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi expertly closed the distance to Tamawashi, and used his massive body as both a shield and a plow to contain and eject Tamawashi. Given that Mitakeumi still seems to be suffering from the effects of that blow to the head, this was a simple, and quite effective plan.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – We thought this might be a barn-burner, and indeed it set the dohyo on fire. Both men through everything they could muster into this fight, and I was quite impressed by Hokutofuji’s speed and combination attacks. Takakeisho knew he could not out-reach the Komusubi, or out maneuver him, but focused on what he does best, overwhelming force applied center mass. Hokutofuji landed solidly, but left his chest wide open. Good match, and I dare say that we sumo fans can look forward to these matches for years to come.

Hakuho defeats Kotoyuki – Points to Kotoyuki for taking the fight to Hakuho, but The Boss is not even susceptible to this kind of sumo. Right now The Boss looks a bit bored. Sadly none of his usual challenges are around this November.

Kyushu Day 3 Preview

Image Courtesy Japan Sumo Association Twitter Feed

It’s only day 3 of the basho, and already Kyushu is loaded to the fill line with oddity. On day 2, the higher ranked rikishi in nearly every match lost. The only named rank athlete with a perfect record is Asanoyama. We have lost 3 (soon to be 4) rikishi to injury, and we have not gotten out of the first act. Sorry readers, but something is wrong in sumo land, maybe a few somethings.

But do keep in mind, sumo is a often brutal sport. It’s a combat focused zero-sum game, with a winner and loser in each match. The 6 basho + 4 jungyo schedule is merciless, and with the average weight of top division men climbing every higher, the risks for injuries compound.

But in the midst of this carnage, we are starting to see some of the future of sumo, in the fast approaching era when the current Yokozuna are both retired, and the young cohorts finally come into their own. But we have to wonder, how many of them can stay healthy to ascend the ranks when the promotion lanes open?

What We Are Watching Day 3

Wakatakakage vs Tokushoryu – In addition to having a 7-1 career advantage over the veteran, Wakatakakage seems to be on a opening hot streak. Will it be 3-0?

Terutsuyoshi vs Daishoho – His day 2 loss to Chiyomaru not withstanding, I think Terutsuyoshi is on a “recovery” tournament, to bounce back from his disastrous 4-11 score at Aki. I am looking him to make his 8, and maybe a few to spare.

Daishomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki brings a 9-3 career advantage to this match, so I think he may get his second win on day 3. Daishomaru was bamboozled by Wakatakakage and let Nishikigi win in blind man’s bluff, so he has to get his act together or figure out what he is going to wear in Juryo in January.

Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – Ok, this has my interest. I would think this series should favor Chiyomaru, but in fact Nishikigi tends to dominate these matches. Sure, Nishikigi can land his arm lock hold, but Chiyomaru has that giant belly as some sort of deflector shield.

Ishiura vs Chiyotairyu – Another match with odd history. I would assume that Chiyotairyu would overpower and dominate the smaller Ishiura, but it seems that with a 4-2 lead, it’s Ishiura who tends to give Chiyotairyu the business. That’s good news as Ishiura needs to find some wins starting now.

Takanosho vs Shodai – I know long time readers are going to assume this is a coded cry for rescue, but I think Shodai is going to run up the score this basho. At Maegashira 10, he’s going to out-class most of his opponents if he is healthy and in a good frame of mind.

Kotoshogiku vs Shimanoumi – It will be sad if Shimanoumi dealt local hero Kotoshogiku his 3rd consecutive loss. But lets be honest, as banged up ask Kotoshogiku is, it’s only a matter of when his next notch down the banzuke will happen. I love me some Kotoshogiku, but its kind of sad to watch him struggle.

Shohozan vs Sadanoumi – Shohozan was a brawling demon on day 2, even if he did go down to a loss. Will we see the same head pounding, face bashing sumo today? Sadanoumi has 13 career matches against Shohozan, so I am going to assume he knows how to avoid getting into a street fight.

Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – Oh I think this is going to be a good one. Both are strike-and-move oshi-rikishi, and so this may be a balanced fight. Yutakayama will have superior mass and defense, and Kotoeko may edge out in maneuverability and agility. Readers know I have Yutakayama earmarked to be Asanoyama’s rival, so lets see if he can stay healthy.

Onosho vs Enho – The lowest ranked of our tadpoles draws a match against power-pixie Enho, and this as “melt down” written all over it. Onosho has always had some balance issues, which got worse following knee surgery. If you fight against Enho, you had better watch your balance, as he can and will defy expectations of where and how the attacks will come.

Tsurugisho vs Ryuden – I am serious worried that Tsurugisho may have picked up some kind of concussion in his day 2 match with Shohozan. Maybe he’s kyujo today (1 in 6 chance, I would say). I think if the match goes on, Ryuden will have his hands full. While Ryuden racked up a 5-0 advantage from their time in Juryo, this version of Tsurugisho is bigger, stronger and possibly a bit pissed off.

Tamawashi vs Kotoyuki – We have not seen Kotoyuki crowd surf in a while, and given Tamawashi’s habit of sending opponents on orbital trajectories, we may get our first meet-and-greet for the zabuton crew today.

Aoiyama vs Tomokaze – This had better be a fusensho for Aoiyama. If Tomokaze shows up today, I am going to lose all hope.

Abi vs Myogiryu – Abi’s mental state may be poor right now. His Instagram antics got all rikishi everywhere thrown off of all social media, so I am guessing some of his fellow sumo men are disappointed in him. Even though he won day 2 against several parts of Takayasu, Abi is clearly not yet dialed in.

Hokutofuji vs Takarafuji – Oh good! Strategist and technician Takarafuji against both upper and lower parts of Hokutofuji, in seemingly good working order. I am going to look for Takarafuji to stalemate Hokutofuji as long as possible, looking for a mistake or opening. Hokutofuji is good at over-extending and over-committing, so lets see if “Not Kaio” has improved his discipline.

Endo vs Tochinoshin – A battle of excessive sadness. I now fear that Tochinoshin won’t make his 10, in fact I worry he may not even make 8. Endo will come in with a masterful plan, and I hope to see Tochinoshin pick him up and carry him around for 30 seconds like a box of green glass headed for the curb on Tuesday in Sumida.

Mitakeumi vs Meisei – Common wisdom might assume that the longest serving tadpole, Mitakeumi, would be the favorite, but Meisei is fighting very well this November, and I would not be surprised to see him take a few more scalps in the named ranks.

Okinoumi vs Takayasu – I think everyone knows that Takayasu is unable to generate any forward power on his left. The solution for any competent Makuuchi rikishi is fairly straightforward. I fear that we are going to be treated to a series of increasingly sad and depressing losses by the Ozeki as his injury compounds, and he gets even weaker on his left.

Takakeisho vs Daieisho – Fresh from a Hakuho kinboshi, Daieisho comes to call on a battered Takakeisho, who has yet to convince anyone that he’s got his sumo dialed in, let alone that his left pectoral muscle is fit.

Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Hakuho has stated that he is a fan of Asanoyama – “A new generation guy who can do yotsu-zumo”. So now we get their second meeting, and I suspect that Hakuho has a foot problem either because of that odd day 2 match, or revealed by it. Asanoyama is fighting in great form for the first act, and I think that he’s going to have a strong showing.

Kyushu Day 2 Highlights

Ugly, brutal day in the top ranks as day 2 shows that in transitional eras, you can’t count on rank to indicate how a match is going to play out. Furthermore, we saw two big men stunned or injured in their matches today. But it was a feast of great sumo, and I credit the new generation of rikishi for really knowing their craft and executing it with skill, strength and purpose. While there is still plenty of ring rust hanging around, its clear that some of the “double wide” Komusubi corps are going to be contenders at least until day 10.

I note with great sadness that Goeido did in fact go kyujo from that ankle twist on day 1. While normally this kind of injury might be ranked as minor, given the amount of medical reconstruction he has had on his ankle, this might be the kind of injury that puts Goeido in a position to retire. While I do give Goeido a hard time, please note its mostly because we know he can be a complete badass, but many times he can’t quite bring himself together enough to do it. I hope his injury is not serious, and he can make a return.

Highlight Matches

Wakatakakage defeats Daishoho – Wakatakakage shows some fine form as he grabs Daishoho’s right arm and takes him for a spin. I am still trying to put my finger on why Wakatakakage’s sumo seems to be higher energy than most of the other top division rikihsi.

Nishikigi defeats Daishomaru – Straight ahead match where Nishikigi got the better of the tachiai and just kept advancing. We are still deep into ring rust territory it seems.

Chiyomaru defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi does literally bounce off of that enormous beach-ball belly of Chiyomaru, and never really recovers control over his feet. Chiyomaru’s thrusting technique is good enough that he can keep you moving off balance if you ever lose your footing.

Kagayaki defeats Takanosho – Kagayaki keeps his hands low at the tachiai, which makes it look quite odd, but it seems to work well today as he briefly establishes a right hand inside grip. While Kagayaki is not intent on a yotsu match, its enough to make Takanosho react to the situation, and just like that Kagayaki is controlling the match.

Shimanoumi defeats Ishiura – High marks to Ishiura’s evasion techniques here, but it’s not fooling Shimanoumi for a moment. In spite of getting maemitsu, Ishiura can never get his feet set, and Shimanoumi wears him down.

Shodai defeats Chiyotairyu – No cartoon sumo today, just solid defense. Shodai absorbs Chiyotairyu’s big tachiai and gets to work. Still encrusted with ring rust, Chiyotairyu’s follow on attempt to pull him down goes nowhere, and its Shodai’s match.

Yutakayama defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku tries again and again to set up the hug-n-chug, but Yutakayama’s defensive form is excellent. He keeps his hips lower that Kotoshogiku’s, and continually deflects to Kyushu Bulldozer’s forward thrust away from center.

Tsurugisho defeats Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan starts a brawl, delivering blow after blow to Tsurugisho’s face. But Tsurugisho keeps backing Shohozan up, until he can finally interpose his enormous fleshy chest to stop the pommelling from Shohozan, and forces Shohozan out. Tsurugisho did not look quite right following, and took a moment to get his wits back.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotoeko – Sadanoumi kept pushing straight ahead and gave Kotoeko no room to set up any kind of thrusting attack. This was probably the way Sadanoumi had hoped the match would go.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tried for some kind of haymaker blow during the tachiai, and it left him hideously off balance. Onosho took the gift that was offered and helped Aoiyama continue the motion all the way to the clay.

Enho defeats Ryuden – Enho’s low tachiai folded straight into a circle to the left, and Ryuden tried to meet him head on. This left him balanced on only his right leg, and an easy pick off for Enho, as Ryuden had very little distance to get his footing.

Tamawashi defeats Takarafuji – Like so many of his matches where he is out gunned, Takarafuji’s approach seems to be to stalemate, absorb the attacks, but stay upright and in the ring. This was working very well until Tamawashi lost his balance and Takarafuji went in to finish him. No longer focused on defense, Takarafuji was not able to square his hips, and Tamawashi pushed him out.

Kotoyuki defeats Tomokaze – Again we see Tomokaze work almost exclusively for a pull, and Kotoyuki knows its coming. But Kotoyuki focuses center-mass and just keeps attacking in the face of Tomokaze’s focus on Kotoyuki’s neck. Sadly Tomokaze may have injured his knee in the bout, and we saw him taken back to the dressing room in that giant wheelchair.

Meisei defeats Endo – Endo twice put everything into landing a shallow right hand grip on Meisei’s mawashi, both times he missed. But his left him wide open to Meisei’s counter attack, sending Endo out and into the zabuton. Solid sumo from Meisei to score his first ever win against Endo.

Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – This match did not disappoint. Mitakeumi opened strong with a rapid thrust combo that had Hokutofuji turned to the side an off balance. Hokutofuji unwisely went for the neck and a pull down, but had no room and no leverage. But it did leave him with a solid grip opportunity, and Hokutofuji took it. Mitakeumi pushed with everything he could muster, but Hokutofuji held his ground. If you can freeze-frame this match, you can see the point where Mitakeumi is pushing so hard he lifts himself up against Hokutofuji’s iron strong defensive footing. This is what makes me think Hokutofuji has a lot of room to move higher on the banzuke. Some of his sumo is just wonderful to watch. Mitakeumi continues to push, but Hokutofuji just keeps nibbling away, and it’s working; Mitakeumi starts yielding ground. Mitakeumi realizes he’s losing ground, and rallies directly into a second Hokutofuji pull down attempt, which finishes the match. Nice sumo from the Komusubi.

Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Once again we see Tochinoshin set up the left hand outside “Sky crane” grip, but unable to square his hips for set his feet. Myogiryu slowly duck walks in reverse, denying Tochinoshin to platform to lift him, but keeping the former Ozeki increasingly off balance. A twist to the right and Tochinoshin is on the clay, with a heartbreaking 0-2 start to a basho where he needs 10 wins.

Asanoyama defeats Takakeisho – The clash of styles payed off as Asanoyama is able to set the terms of the match, and Takakeisho is unable to delivery any meaningful offense. Once Asanoyama had a hold of Takakeisho’s body, the Ozeki was solely focused on escape while Asanoyama put him on the clay. I still have hopes that Takakeisho will make his 8, but Asanoyama once again shows why he’s a rising star.

Abi defeats Takayasu – Day 1 Takayasu looked like Takayasu from a year ago. Day 2 Takayasu looked like Takayasu from last week. Disorganized, right hand only sumo that Abi dismantled and sent packing. Bad day for the Ozeki corps.

Daieisho defeats Hakuho – Sure, it can work on the Yokozuna too! I am really not sure what happened here. Hakuho had a solid start, but he bared his chest to Daieisho, and Daieisho obliged by applying a surprising amount of force, knocking the boss back to the tawara. To me it looked like Hakuho decided that was it, and stepped out. Most unusual. Congratulations to Daieisho for the kinboshi! I hope this is not an indicator that Hakuho’s gamey big toe is acting up again.