Tokyo July Basho Day 3 Highlights

Is the ring rust off yet? For some, not quite. Several wrestlers still appear to be gathering their bearings but a few are really shining. I love to see the start that Myogiryu has gotten, along with Terunofuji. With the exception of Kotoyuki, who does not seem his sanyaku-self, The Great Wall of Kotos is performing very well. But the story of the tournament so far has to be the shin-Ozeki, Asanoyama, and his excellent performances so far.

Highlight Matches

Meisei defeated Kotoyuki: The visitor from Juryo weathered the barrage of blows, landed a number of his own body blows, and pushed Kotoyuki out quickly. Kotoyuki falls to 0-3. Oshidashi. Meisei is 3-0 and starting to make a good case for promotion.

Terunofuji defeated Chiyomaru: Chiyomaru shoved Terunofuji and attempted a hatakikomi pull but Terunofuji wasn’t falling for it. He went right in for a belt grip and as soon as that left hand found purchase, he pulled Chiyomaru’s card. Uwatenage. Terunofuji is undefeated at 3-0.

Kotoshoho defeated Nishikigi: Kotoshoho dominated Nishikigi from the start, landing solid body blows and completely overwhelming his opponent. Oshidashi. A great 3-0 start. Nishikigi backed straight out to his second loss.

Kotoeko defeated Wakatakakage: Wakatakakage hit strong with his tachiai, forcing Kotoeko back to the tawara. Kotoeko used the tawara to arrest his backwards movement. He then took the opportunity to secure a right-handed belt grip of his own and force Wakatakakage to exit, stage left. Yorikiri. Wakatakakage falls to 0-3, Kotoeko 2-1.

Takayasu defeated Kotoshogiku: Kotoshogiku gets off to a great start, pushing Takayasu back at the tachiai. Takayasu worked his way into Kotoshogiku’s belt and from there owned things. He pushed Kotoshogiku across the dohyo and out. Yorikiri. Kotoshogiku picked up his first loss while Takayasu improved to 2-1.

Kotonowaka defeated Shohozan: Kotonowaka kept his cool after Shohozan’s staredown and then the introductory slap at the tachiai. He pivoted, using Shohozan’s momentum to bring him to the straw barrier. Another quick shove and experience bowed to youth. Oshidashi. Kotonowaka undefeated while Shohozan’s third straight loss has put him into quite the hole at the start of this tournament.

Sadanoumi defeated Shimanoumi: Sadanoumi started with some strong thrusts but Shimanoumi weathered the intial tempest. Sadanoumi abandoned the thrusting attack and reached in for Shimanoumi’s belt. Belt grip nicely secured he quickly worked the orange mawashi back out and over the edge. Yorikiri. Shimanoumi’s still seeking a win while Sadanoumi improved to 2-1.

Myogiryu defeated Tochinoshin: A quick one from Myogiryu. Myogiryu allowed Tochinoshin no time to try anything, immediately securing a left-handed grip, shifting to the side. The force of the tachiai carried Tochinoshin forward and Myogiryu added pressure to keep Tochinoshin moving forward and out. Yorikiri. Myogiryu remains undefeated while Tochinoshin earned his second loss.

Tamawashi defeated Kaisei: Kaisei knew this would be a pushing thrusting bout, getting great movement backwards from Tamawashi. Tamawashi’s own thrusts were ineffective against the bigger Kaisei, so he shifted left and then right, slapping down Kaisei as he tried to give chase. Hatakikomi. Tamawashi 3-0 and Keisei got a hard-fought second loss.

Chiyotairyu defeated Ikioi: Chiyotairyu’s powerful tachiai forced Ikioi to cede ground. More forceful thrusts as Ikioi tried to hang on but Chiyotairyu blasted Ikioi out. Tsukidashi. Chiyotairyu is now 2-1, Ikioi 1-2.

Ishiura defeated Terutsuyoshi: Henka from Ishiura to get a grip but Terutusyoshi snuffed it out and turned around, getting a piece of Ishiura’s belt in return. But Ishiura used the belt to keep up the attack, over powering Terutsuyoshi, and pushing him out over the edge on the other side. Yorikiri. Terutsuyoshi handed his first loss, Ishiura picking up his first win.

Tokushoryu defeated Ryuden: Yushoryu quickly dispatched Ryuden. A left hand grip and he was able to snap Ryuden forward. Losing his balance, Ryuden instinctively put his hands down to catch himself. Hikiotoshi. Both men are 1-2.

Abi defeated Enho: Enho lost his balance at the tachiai with help from Abi’s right forearm to the chin. Enho tumbling out backwards to the front of the dohyo. Oshitaoshi. [Copy/Paste] Both men are 1-2.

Hokutofuji defeated Aoiyama: Aoiyama was off-balance from the beginning. Strong tachiai from Hokutofuji who keeps his head down and the thrusts coming, backs Aoiyama up and out. This bout was about footwork. Hokutofuji moved with a purpose. Controlled steps. Aoiyama’s feet were all over the place and eventually swept over the side as he was trying to keep his balance. Oshidashi. Aoiyama is 1-2. Hokutofuji improved to 2-1.

Kiribayama defeated Kagayaki: Pushing thrusting attack from Kagayaki forced Kiribayama into retreat. Kiribayama weathering the blows as he throws a few, ineffective ones of his own. Kiribayama used his left to deflect Kagayaki high and get back into a belt grip. From there, Kiribayama turned the tables. With Kagayaki’s center of gravity up too high, Kiribayama used the leverage from the belt to push him backwards and out. Yorikiri. Kiribayama 1-2 while Kagayaki picked up his first loss.

Takarafuji defeated Daieisho: Daieisho worked Takarafuji back with a strong tachiai. Powerful thrusts gave Daieisho the advantage but wild, off-balance footwork cost him. One missed thrust which Takarafuji parried successfully turned Daieisho around. Takarafuji seized the moment to push Daieisho out from behind. Okuridashi. Daieisho stumbled to his first loss while Takarafuji is now 1-2.

Mitakeumi defeated Onosho: Onosho had an excellent tachiai, getting in under Mitakeumi, and forcing him back. Mitakeumi knew he was in trouble so as he got forced back he brought his arms up around Onosho’s head. With a sudden twist he threw Onosho down as they both tumbled out. Excellent adaptation from Mitakeumi. Kubinage. Mitakeumi undefeated, Onosho hopes for a first win tomorrow.

Takanosho defeated Shodai: Shoulder blast from Shodai at the initial charge. Shodai put his head down and revved the engines, full steam ahead…but before tying down his cargo. In the tumult, Takanosho got lose to the right and as Shodai passed, Takanosho gave a final shove from behind. Okuridashi. Shodai picked up his first loss and Takanosho earned his first win.

“Kinki is a region, not a way of life.”

Murray Johnson, the Legend

Asanoyama defeated Yutakayama: Through tears of laughter, I composed myself in time for the tachiai. Asanoyama, on the other hand, was composed from the beginning of this bout. Yutakayama’s thrusts were many but fizzled in the bosom of Asanoyama. Asanoyama earned his position at center stage with great power and excellent footwork, forcing Yutakayama to the edge, looking in. While he wasn’t able to land a belt grip, he had control under Yutakayama’s arms and forced the junior Sekitori back and out. Yorikiri. The Ozeki is undefeated. Yutakayama 0-3.

Okinoumi defeated Takakeisho: Takakeisho gained the advantage at the tachiai with a strong blast. Okinoumi staggered back a step but not as far as the tawara. Takakeisho was unable to get much wave action going. An ill-advised pull by Takakeisho was met with a solid blow to the head by Okinoumi. The cumulative effect meant Takakeisho fell down. Oshitaoshi. Both men are 2-1.

Hakuho defeated Endo: A strong shoulder blast from Hakuho. No extracurriculars on the initial charge, just power. Right arm secured under Endo’s left armpit, Hakuho shoved his opponent to the point that Endo’s left leg came up off the ground. The Yokozuna then drove through the rank-and-filer to finish him off. Endo collapsed in a heap while Hakuho took a celebratory lap down the hanamachi. Extraordinary. Oshidashi. Endo falls to 1-2 while Hakuho leads the pack at 3-0.

Tokyo July Basho – Day 1 preview

Sumo’s back! Finally! I believe many of us have never been as excited as today, looking forward for the great return of our favorite wrestlers.

The mock Natsu basho, conceived by our colleagues of Grand Sumo Breakdown, has provided us some nice moments while we were waiting, including an unlikely Ishiura run, and Mitakeumi’s eventual triumph.

I believe, however, we have grounds to expect quite different results. Indeed, the mock basho was supposed to fake the May tournament. Rikishi, on the contrary, have been able to have some welcomed rest, and there’s no doubt some of them have taken all benefit of it.

So, first day’s torikumi is up, and brings the promise of an exciting start :

Terunofuji v Kotoyuki. So, the very first makuuchi bout will be the one I’ll expect most! It’s Terunofuji’s long awaited makuuchi return, and it’s fair to say he comes back from hell. If his road back certainly deserves much praise, the final steps almost proved to be stumbling blocks. More worringly, he still practises under painkillers, and it’s doubtful whetever he’ll successfully defend his makuuchi status. He defeated Kotoyuki last time in March; if he manages to avoid Kotoyuki’s early tsuppari attacks, he should edge that one.

Nishikigi v Kotoeko. A bout between two recent demotees to juryo. Nishikigi’s makuuchi has been underwhelming in March, with a 6-9 record that barely allowed him to keep a makuuchi spot. It’ll be their third meeting, and Nishikigi is yet to defeat his smaller opponent. I expect that trend to go on.

Kotoshoho v Chiyomaru. It took just three basho for Kotoshoho to move from juryo debut to makuuchi debut, which will take place this Sunday! Interestingly, he has won his last five basho’s shonichi, but Chiyomaru has done better: that’s eight win in a row during shonichi! From a more practical point of view, Chiyomaru’s experience may well prevail over newbie Kotoshoho.

Kotoshogiku v Wakatakakage. The former ozeki is slowly running out of energy. Furthermore, he struggled against other pixies: 0-2 v Enho, 1-2 v Terutsuyoshi. Remarkably, Wakatakakage is still undefeated in makuuchi, as he went kyujo after a 4-0 record in November of last year. He’ll eventually suffer his first loss, but I do not think this will happen on Sunday.

Takayasu v Kotonowaka. Takayasu’s elbow is still a major concern, although the break might have given him a lift. Kotonowaka had a good 9-6 makuuchi debut, and usually starts decently. I think he’ll edge this one as well.

Sadanoumi v Shohozan. An interesting style opposition between two experienced rikishi. Neither of them has been performing extremely well recently, with just one kachi kochi combined, during the last three basho. I tend to favour Shohozan on that one, and so do the matchups: 10-5 for the veteran.

Shimanoumi v Tochinoshin. The Mie-ken born has been largely disappointing lately, after a bright makuuchi debut in 2019. If Tochinoshin is given time to heal his knees, he still can do wonders. I’m sure he relished the time he has been given to heal, and I expect him to start strongly this basho.

Kaisei v Myogiryu. Another battle between two experienced battlers – they’re both 33. Maegashira 10 is Kaisei’s highest rank for a while, and it’s Myogiryu lowest for a while. Advantage to Myogiryu, who also leads their matchups 11-7.

Tamawashi v Ikioi. Ikioi’s resurgence after his feet troubles is quite impressive. Tamawashi’s sekiwake days, on the opposite, seem to be a century ago. The dynamic is on the Osaka born’s side, despite the matchups favouring the one time yusho winner (11-6).

Ishiura v Chiyotairyu. That should be an interesting matchup. Ishiura has been repeatedly yo-yoing between makuuchi and juryo, but his results have appeared to settle up a bit lately. His larger opponent has left the joi by the end of last year, and will look to regain a place in the upper maegashira spots.

Terutsuyoshi v Tokushoryu. Right after Ishiura, the Isegahama pixie will take another big boy, the surprise yusho winner back in January. It unfortunately appears Terutsuyoshi is suffering from a knee problem, which is likely to hamper his results here. He’ll need to push on his knees if he wants to move heavy opponents like Tokushoryu.

Enho v Ryuden. Enho will to bounce back after the only third make kochi of his young career. So far, Ryuden has not found the key against the last pixie of the day (0-2), although Enho’s last tachi-ai against Ryuden was henka-ish. Will the latter find a way to defeat him, this time ?

Abi v Hokutofuji. An interesting battle between two members of the « komusubi quartet », back in November of last year. If staying in san’yaku has proved too difficult for Hokutofuji (three make kochi), Abi has left the higher ranks after your consecutive appearances due to injury issues. Let’s hope the break has enabled him to fix this, although he has the bad habit of losing on shonichi (just one win over the last nine occurrences !).

Kagayaki v Aoiyama. Kagayaki is definitely on the rise again, after two double digit wins, and a 8-7 tournament in March. After six straight losses to Aoiyama, he finally defeated Big Dan two times, including an oshidashi win in January. I expect Kagayaki to fare well this tournament, although the maegashira 4 spot has been a ceiling glass to him so far.

Daieisho v Kiribayama. I became a massive fan of Kiribayama, who undoubtly benefited of Kakuryu’s advice. But he lacks first division experience, to say the least, and he’ll enter the joi for the very first time of his fledging career. Therefore, I consider the reliable Daieisho to dominate their coming encounter.

Takarafuji v Mitakeumi. If the discreet Takarafuji has granted us a rare pre-basho interview, let’s be clear : his brand of sumo remains defensive, no-nonsense. If it could be useful during Mitakeumi’s regular mid-basho meltdown, he’ll have a hard time containing Mitakeumi’s power. The two time yusho winner should dominate the yotsu zumo debate.

Shodai v Onosho. Not an easy one to call. Their early career was full of promise, and both have largely failed to deliver so far. Shodai is currently trying to establish himself as a sekiwake, if not more. If their matchups is level (2-2), Shodai has started excellently his six last basho, being 2-0 five times, and 1-1 the sixth time. On the contrary, Onosho has lost four of the last five shonichi. The sekiwake has to be touted as the favourite.

Takanosho v Asanoyama. Takanosho has caught the eye with a formidable 12-3 basho in March. If Asanoyama has his ups and downs during a basho, I’m sure he’ll do his best to have a bright ozeki start. He has won their only meeting so far, and I expect him to double his lead.

Takakeisho v Yutakayama. That’s another match where both rikishi’s dynamic are going the opposite way. Yutakayama has rosen quite impressively through the maegashira ranks recently, but will it be enough to defeat the kadoban ozeki ? His lack of san’yaku experience might prove too big a disadvantge against Takakeisho, who desperately needs eight wins, and a good start.

Endo v Kakuryu. Endo seemed to be a big threat to the yokozuna in recent times. After a san’yaku breakthrough, Endo seemed to have lost his way again. Here too, I expect the break to have helped the Mongolian healing his injury troubles. Kakuryu has to win that one.

Hakuho v Okinoumi. The dai-yokozuna is of course the big favorite of that pairing. Let’s not underestimate Okinoumi’s, those solid yostu zumo has provided stern opposition to Hakuho. I expect the Mongolian to edge comfortably that one, nevertheless.