Aki 2019: Day 5 Highlights

The Gladiators Enter The Arena

Ishiura defeats Takagenji: Ishiura continues to do well this tournament by fighting his opponents. It was not a strong tachiai, but not a henka, as Ishiura ducked and deflected Takagenji’s attack upward. Then Ishiura drove through from his submarine position and ushered Takagenji out. Ishiura improves to 4-1, Takagenji falls to 1-4.

Tochiozan defeats Toyonoshima: Tochiozan got the better of Toyonoshima with a slick little shift in the middle of the ring. It that threw Toyonoshima’s balance off enough to steamroll out for the win. Tochiozan is 3-2 while Toyonoshima falls to 1-4.

Tsurugisho defeats Azumaryu: Tsurugisho met Azumaryu well at the tachiai, got a great grip with his right hand. With superior position from below, and Azumaryu’s right arm flailing in the air, Tsurugisho drove forward and pushed him out for the yorikiri win. Both men are having a decent tournament at 3-2.

Ki defeats Yutakayama: A great endurance battle between the big men where Kagayaki out-lasted Yutakayama. The crowd really got going when Yutakayama was pitched up on one leg but somehow recovered to drive Kagayaki back to the tawara. The two settled to the middle of the ring, Kagayaki caught Yutakayama dozing and drove him back and out. Both men are 3-2.

Shohozan defeats Nishikigi: Shohozan keeps the East winning streak alive, driving both hands up into Nishikigi’s neck at the tachiai. Shohozan never relented, steady with the pressure, continuous attack while Nishikigi was doing everything he could just to hang on and stay upright, but Shohozan forced him out. Shohozan improves to 3-2 while Nishikigi falls to 2-3.

Enho defeats Daishoho: Enho ends the Eastern dominance with a last second Houdini vanishing act. Daishoho had clear advantage and went for the finishing shove…when Enho disappeared and reappeared behind him, and added enough force to Daishoho’s momentum to push him out. Amazing. Enho is 4-1 while Daishoho is still seeking his first win.

Onosho defeats Terutsuyoshi: Terutsuyoshi went on the attack, head down, and bulled through his opponent. Onosho slipped to his left to escape the pressure and managed to dance inside the tawara to stay in while Terutsuyoshi flopped to the dohyo. Terutsuyoshi falls to 1-4 and needs to turn things around in the second act. Onosho improves to 2-3.

Meisei defeats Takarafuji: Starting from a stance a yard behind the line of scrimmage, a genki Meisei took the initiative and played aggressor in this bout while Takarafuji played defense. The two tussled at the center of the ring but a quick shift to the right, he got his left hand up behind Takarafuji’s back, pressured him off down and balance. Katasukashi.

Okinoumi defeats Kotoyuki: A good tachiai and Kotoyuki on the slap-happy tsuppari attack but Jason’s man from Shimane-ken used his arms effectively to deflect the bulk of the attack. When Kotoyuki over-committed, Okinoumi ducked to the side, letting Kotoyuki fall and remains undefeated! The Penguin falls to 2-3.

Sadanoumi defeats Kotoeko: Sadanoumi prevailed in a high-octane back and forth bout. The tachiai was well met and the two set a frenetic pace of steady action as they tried to get the upper hand. Kotoeko twisted the pair precariously on the tawara but Sadanoumi didn’t want to take the tumble into the crowd and drove back to the other side of the ring where he gained the advantage and flung Kotoeko out.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ryuden: This was a straight-forward Kotoshogiku bout of old, well met tachiai with Ryuden wrapped up and driven backwards. Ryuden attempted to resist to the left but Kotoshogiku’s gabburi was too much. Yorikiri. Giku improves to 3-2. Ryuden slips to 2-3.

Shimanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu: Chiyotairyu met his opponent with a strong right hand at the tachiai but when he foolishly tried a hatakikomi attack with inadequate real estate behind him. Why would anyone do that 6 feet from the bales? When he executed the pull he was virtually out already. Shimanoumi gladly obliged and helped Chiyotairyu out.

Myogiryu defeats Shodai: This Myogiryu is a beast this tournament. Shodai absorbed the tachiai and started to push his opponent back but Myogiryu kicked it into a higher gear, forcing Shodai into reverse and out. Myogiryu is in the chase at 4-1, Shodai slips to 2-3.

Ichinojo vs Tamawashi: The bout didn’t happen. Ichinojo is kyujo with a shoulder injury. Tamawashi gets the walkover win.

Endo defeats Aoiyama to the delight of the crowd. Winless Aoiyama tried the hatakikomi pull at the tachiai, without setting up any kind of tsuppari or slapping attack. It was just “pull” mode from the start. With momentum going the right way, Endo obliged and chased Aoiyama, pushing him out for a fourth straight win.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji: There was a decent stack of kensho riding on this one. A great oshi bout, both got the tsuppari going. Hokutofuji tried a pull but that wasn’t going anywhere since aite simply didn’t follow. Hokutofuji went back to re-engage with some tsuppari, and this time Takakeisho slipped backwards, pirouetting just inside the tawara as Hokutofuji flopped to the clay. Hokutofuji ends act 1 with the one gold star win he managed to snag off Hakuho on day one. Takakeisho is undefeated and on cruise control to meet that 10-win mark.

Mitakeumi defeats Abi: Abi launched forward into his slapping attack. Mitakeumi put up some strong resistance, drawing Abi deeper and further forward on his toes, then executed an excellent pull down that everyone in the building saw coming. Well, maybe everyone but Abi. They’re calling it a tsukiotoshi but it may as well have been the hatakikomi that Abi is so vulnerable to.

Tochinoshin defeats Tomokaze: The youngster was over-eager. A strong tachiai but apparently the Ozeki learned from his hairpull mistake yesterday to keep that hand flat. He went straight for Tomokaze’s topknot and forced him down. Both men are 2-3.

Goeido defeats Daieisho: Damn it. Bad Goeido! No pulling! This win will serve as positive re-enforcement that you can sometimes win with a pull so you’re going to do it again, and again. But those bouts, you’ll lose. This one was done against an unprepared Daieisho. Please move forward from now on. You got lucky this time.

Asanoyama defeats Kakuryu! Zabuton nagatte kudasai! The Yokozuna had settled on the idea of winning by a throw. So he tried it once after the tachiai, then he worked Asanoyama over to the straw bales where he tried again. Didn’t work. Maybe the third time is the charm? No. The third time he Asanoyama gives a gentle shove and the Yokozuna is out.

Act one ends with a two-horse race between Takakeisho and Okinoumi! The hunt pack is now led by Kakuryu, and includes Goeido, Mitakeumi, Endo, Myogiryu, Meisei, Enho, and Ishiura. It’s still far too early in this drama for yusho race talk as we’re one third of the way in but that’s an exciting group of folks. Several sharks in these waters smell blood and a shot at a title! It is a bit disappointing that Ichinojo won’t be able to feast but he’ll be back!

Day One Key Points

Now that the training bouts and special events are over, it’s showtime. Blood has been shed, kensho has been claimed, salt has been brushed away, and power water has been purged, we have learned a bit.

Race for the Yusho

Even with one kinboshi yielded on the first day, the Yokozunae are still the favorites to win. But who are we kidding, Endo’s still in it! He’s just got off to a rough start, knocking off a bit of ring rust. Or more precisely, having the ring rust knocked out of him by the sport’s new top dog. With Hakuho still in recovery, Kakuryu is rightly anchoring the East.

Clearly, Hokutofuji’s off to a great start, and he was absolutely chuffed after today’s fantastic win. The way he drove forward reminded me of…Goeido from the bout before. Juggernaut’s strength is bulldozing his opponents, advancing. Always advancing.

Takakeisho is hunting for 10, certainly not 15. I doubt anyone out there, even among his most ardent supporters, was expecting him to bounce back competing for a title in his come-back tournament. He had his hands full against Daieisho and that is not a good sign. It was a surprise he kept his feet and won this bout.

Race for the Exits

Tochinoshin’s knee is looking terrible. Gunning called it after the quick Ichinojo throw when he noted that GETTING UP was difficult. He had to keep the leg straight. I was reminded of when my Grandmother was in her eighties. OK, that was harsh. I was reminded of the aftermath of last month’s 5K when I couldn’t bend my knee after pushing myself to a fourth personal best in a row. Dr. Google calls it an IT Band and says no one really knows how to cure it. Ice and heating pads are good, maybe some pre-race stretching will help. I really hope his doctor is better than Dr. Google.

Hakuho’s loss was troubling for me. A slap to start the bout and full retreat from there, ending in a light shower of purple rain. As Bruce reported a few days ago, the Dai-Yokozuna has been granted Japanese citizenship. That was followed soon after by an announcement from Sokokurai along the same lines, as Herouth noted below. He looked positively spry crab-walking Kotonowaka out of the ring for his first win of the tournament, though. While Tochinoshin’s exit, due to injury, may be upon us sooner than any of us expected, these two are making moves off the dohyo to start their next chapter.

Race for Sanyaku

Enho’s win against Onosho today was an absolute gem. On the ropes at several points during the bout, it was definitely his bout to lose…until he twisted around and plucked a win from thin air. Terutsuyoshi dispatched a resurgent Kotoyuki. That pixie dust is potent. Of the four, who do you think will reach sanyaku first? One of those who has been there before? Or one the pixies?

Tomokaze’s even more rapid rise continues. His opponent today, Abi, is by this point a seasoned Makuuchi wrestler. Tomokaze studied that hatakikomi vulnerability and wasted no time dispatching the tadpole. Should Tomokaze be granted tadpole status? Or is his rise something else?

Race for Sekitori

In makushita and below, we’re only half-way through the first set of bouts. Several key ones are tonight, with Hoshoryu against Akiseyama and Chiyootori facing Tsurubayashi. With Naya losing his first bout against the veteran Toyohibiki, sekitori hopes for 2019 are likely for naught but 2020 is around the corner. The makushita joi is rough but the churn in the top ranks has yet to settle.

Chiyonokuni’s return was marked with a slapfest. I would put money on all seven of his bouts being fought this way, far from the belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes kyujo if he manages four wins early in the tournament but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hoping for yusho. Chiyonokuni’s injury forced him to fall much lower than his abilities and a return to the salaried ranks in early 2020.

Jungyo Report – Sapporo

We still have more than a week before honbasho, so let’s take a look at the Jungyo events in Sapporo, which took place on August 17 and 18.

As it is hard to separate materials that were posted about the two days of this Sapporo event, I am going to plot them as one event. So while I’m fitting the post to the usual “Jungyo Day” format, bear in mind that the actual events described may not have been part of the same sequence.

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Jungyo Report – Aomori

The Jungyo is nearly over. In a few hours, the last event – after a few days of hiatus – is going to take place at Tokyo’s KITTE mall, to be shortly followed by the banzuke announcement and all that come with them.

I’ll keep on writing a few Jungyo reports as my time allows, though, because the basho is still a long way away, and because some of you like reading them, it seems. But I can’t in honesty call them “Newsreels” anymore, because, well, the news are a bit old.

Today I’ll cover the two events that took place on August 14 and 15 at Aomori prefecture. These are days 16 and 17 of the Jungyo. The events at Aomori marked a departure of the Juryo rikishi – with the exception of Kyokutaisei and Ichiyamamoto, who are Hokkaido men and expected in the Hokkaido events. Also, Takagenji, the upper-ranking Taka Twin, has joined the Jungyo after being kyujo for its first part, just as his twin brother in Juryo has left it.

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