Haru Day 1 Highlights

I want to start today with something we have not seen in 8 months, a Yokozuna dohyo-iri.

Savor that one folks, I fear we won’t have too many more of them, and it’s grand and wonderful to see this grand ritual return to sumo for the first time since July of 2020. Of course, I know that we won’t see Hakuho retire tomorrow, and there is the open question of Kakuryu. But both of the top ranked men in Sumo are edging closer to retirement, and it could be some time once they leave active competition before we see another rikishi gain the rope.

The current Ozeki and the Ozeki hopeful have their fans, and rightfully so. However I watch them, and I don’t see Asashoryu, or Harumafuji, or even Kisenosato. I see solid Ozeki. That means that one of them will need to make a step change to evolve to another higher form. This might take a while, if it should ever happen. While I can see a post Hakuho era with a lot of strong Ozeki sumo, getting one of the current bunch to have back to back yusho may be a tall order just now.

What a glorious first day of sumo.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Tokushoryu – Interesting clash of opening gambits at the tachiai. Tokushoryu went for Daiamami’s face, and Daiamami kept his hands lower. This resulted in Tokushoryu getting a good combo in on Daiamami’s face, but when that ended, Daiamami was in control. With his power focused center-mass, Daiamami owned the rest of this match. An attempt at a last ditch defense at the tawara by Tokushoryu ended when his right foot skidded onto the janome. I really liked Daiamami’s focus and discipline today.

Hidenoumi defeats Kaisei – After coming back from COVID-Kyujo in January, it would seem that Kaisei has a fair amount of ring rust. Hidenoumi struggled quite a bit to capitalize on Kaisei’s poor balance and even worse footwork. There is just so much giant Brazilian to try to move. A final stumble as Kaisei tried to set up a rescue throw at the edge sent him tumbling from the dohyo, and I have to hope he did not injure himself with that one.

Yutakayama defeats Tsurugisho – Was looked like a fairly straightforward chest-to-chest battle took a worrisome turn as Tsurugisho’s knee appeared to give out and he tumbled down the dohyo. I know I gasped when I saw this, and Yutakayama’s body language could be read from Dallas – “Oh damn!” But Tsurugisho managed to get up, and seemed well enough.

Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – No henka from Chiyoshoma today, but there 14 days left for us to see the “Flying Mongolian”. Chiyoshoma looked to have tried a hit and shift, but ended off balance and vulnerable. Kotoeko read this perfectly, and with a right hand on Chiyoshoma’s face, applied a massive thrust that put into the salt box. Points to the Yobidashi who yanked the chikara-mizu bucket out of the way before Chiyoshoma ended up with a swirly as well.

Aoiyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – There are matches where I think Big-Dan Aoiyama is going through the motions. Then there is today, where this giant bag of muscle and mayonnaise can surprise you. He opened with a V-Twin thrusting attack, and when Terutsuyoshi circled left to set up his attack, Aoiyama used Terutsuyoshi’s body position to hurl him to the clay. Nice move.

Akiseyama defeats Kotoshoho – Akiseyama also really over-performed today. He took Kotoshoho to his chest, which I think Kotoshoho was not quite quite expecting. With a solid right hand inside grip, Akiseyama went for a yorikiri, but Kotoshoho found his footing and ramped up the forward pressure. Akiseyama deftly converted and took one measured step back, and Kotoshoho hit the clay.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ryuden – Chiyotairyu without sideburns is a bit unsettling, possibly to Ryuden as well. In the past we have discussed the possibility that some minor kami resides in them, so this basho he may be without that boost in power. Chiyotairyu kept the pressure on Ryuden’s face and shoulders from the tachiai, and Ryuden never really had a chance to set up much if any offense. But did Chiyotairyu steal Midorifuji’s katasukashi?

Midorifuji defeats Hoshoryu – It seems Midorifuji mounted the dohyo to find that his prize katasukashi was missing, and he needed to do something else. By all accounts, Hoshoryu was not paying attention today, as he launched. hard and fast into the tachiai expecting Midorifuji to try for a shoulder / under-arm hand placement. Instead the Isegahama power pixie had stepped to the side, and Hoshoryu got a face full of Kokugikan clay.

Chiyonokuni defeats Tobizaru – I had high hopes for this match, but a clumsy Tobizaru tachiai mostly made Chiyonokuni’s win a foregone conclusion. Better luck day 2!

Kagayaki defeats Kotonowaka – Yeah, I know I mentioned Kotonowaka as a candidate for a breakout basho in the podcast. Perhaps I have now doomed him? Goth mode Kagayaki, who may have been humming the chorus from “Bella Lugosi’s Dead”, kept his feet heavy and is hips low. In response, Kotonowaka had. Well, frankly, nothing.

Ichinojo defeats Tochinoshin – You can forgive Tochinoshin for thinking that he should start the match with the assumption that Ichinojo was going to use his brand of sumo. That is to be large, heaving and immobile (aka “The Boulder”). Instead, Ichinojo was on the move from the first step, and came in aggressive and strong. Once Tochinoshin was off balance and mostly relying on his damaged right knee, he was an easy mark for Ichinojo’s throw.

Okinoumi defeats Tamawashi – This match was unique, in that the outcome stumped the unflappable Konosuke, who had his eyes on the moment when both men stepped out, and came away with the expression of “hell if I know…” has he pointed both east and west with his gumbai, tossing it to the shipman and the replay crew. The replay was equally as baffling as you can see two high-skill vets undertake the most amazing series of footsteps each defying physics and human body mechanics to keep their feet inside the ring. At the end, it seems that the replay crew concurred and flipped a coin, giving the win to Okinoumi. On the NHK replay, I saw the fine sand from the janome fly about thanks to Okinoumi’s heel. But I am sure the replay crew had access to more cameras (in 4K!) than I do. Kimarite was listed as isamiashi, or a non-winning technique of “Inadvertent step out”.

Myogiryu defeats Endo – Well, better luck day 2 Endo. There was a solid clash at the tachiai, and Endo either bounced away off balance, or tried to hit and shift. Either way, Myogiryu was ready for it, delivering a fast win for his shonichi.

Shimanoumi defeats Kiribayama – Shimanoumi’s first every win over Kiribayama. He had his hands inside and lower at the tachiai, and it was straight into an armpit attack that disrupted whatever Kiribayama had planned. Kiribayama finally was able to break Shimanoumi’s attack, but by that point Kiribayama was too high. Shimanoumi dropped his hips, dropped his head, squared his shoulders and drove forward. Nothing Kiribayama tried could do any better than stalemate until Shimanoumi’s finishing drive took them both out.

Meisei defeats Takayasu – Takayasu had this won at least twice, but Meisei’s higher mobility shut down Takayasu’s attempts to drive him from the ring. Takayasu had really sharp foot placement today, its a shame that he let Meisei hook a leg in when Takayasu drove forward to finish the match. Nice recovery into a kakenage for Meisei.

Takanosho defeats Wakatakakage – It seems that these two watched the Okinoumi / Tamawashi, and declared “hold my beer”. I am not sure I have ever seen more elaborate efforts to keep your feet in while your opponent is off balance from two rikishi. Once again the result was “hell if I know”, but this time it was declared a torinaoshi, and they fought again. The second match – Takanosho kept his focus and power on center mass, and quickly drove Wakatakakage from the ring.

Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – My compliments to Hokutofuji for a well fought match. He used the handshake-tachiai into a right hand nodowa. With his left hand on Terunofuji’s chest, he dialed up the pressure and began to advance. The risk of this attack strategy is that the attacker’s body is wide open. Terunofuji found easy handholds and collapsed the nodowa by taking Hokutofuji to his chest. In response, Hokutofuji shifted to defense smoothly, dropping his hips and pressing forward with his shoulders. But Terunofuji’s left hand found a mawashi grip, and moments later the Kaiju’s powerful shitatenage sent Hokutofuji tumbling. Nine more to go.

Takakeisho defeats Onosho – I really like both of these rikishi, but Takakeisho looked strong and healthy today, and I was happy to see him in good form. Onosho made contact first, but his hands were just an couple of inches too high. Takakeisho had an open route to center mass, and his feet were in excellent position. Realzing he was 2 steps from defeat, Onosho tried to pull and twist against Takakeisho’s head. But with his balance centered, his hips low and his feet heavy and wide, the pull failed, giving Takakeisho his first of 8 wins to secure his Ozeki rank.

Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – Asanoyama got his preferred stance and grip at the tachiai, and Takarafuji found himself face first in the clay one step later.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – I had high hopes for this match, and it did deliver. Shodai was high at the tachiai, and his feet were in poor position. While Shodai tried to sort out his body, Mitakeumi went for the chest and began his attack. Shodai quickly set up a left hand outside mawashi grip, shutting down Mitakeumi’s chances for a quick win. Mitakeumi broke Shodai’s grip, and re-took command and bodily threw Shodai over the edge of the dohyo before the Ozeki could unleash any of his trademark cartoon sumo.

Hakuho defeats Daieisho – After sitting out for several months, I am expecting a lot of ring rust on Hakuho. He looked a bit shaky in his first competition match since July, and he let Daieisho set up a throw in the face of Hakuho’s overwhelming forward advance. But The Boss made sure that Hatsu yusho winner Daieisho went out first, and picked up his first win for March.

Hatsu Day 10 Highlights

With a thunderous kyujo, act 2 comes to a close. I do mean Takakeisho, yes. While he has had poor performance from the start, he was was the center of attention in the days before the basho, as he had taken the cup in November and had an opportunity to make a bid to be promoted to Yokozuna. It seems at some point early in the tournament he injured his ankle, but frankly I think there may be more than that. He has looked unwell since the joint practice in the basement of the Kokugikan. I hope that he can get his body together a bit later this year and try again.

In the rikishi still active, there was no change at the top of the leader board as both Daieisho and Shodai won their matches today, and remain #1 and #2 respectively. This only gets interesting if someone can drop Daieisho at least once during act 3, which starts tomorrow. Personally I like the chances of another loss (at least 40%) due to the mental pressure of considering the yusho may cause some loss of focus during the daily bout. The chance is high we won’t know who will take the cup until day 15, and that is how it should be.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Akiseyama – Akiseyama has now lost 4 in a row, and is on a genuine cold streak. He had been tied for the lead at one time, and is now struggling. Is it a cold streak, or did he pick up an injury? Either way, Azumaryu picks up a much needed win to improve to 3-7.

Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Ok, Hoshoryu seems to have found his sumo for real! He beats Kotonowaka for the first time in 4 attempts by slamming him to the clay after a leg trip attempt. He has won the last 5 in a row after losing the first 5 from opening day.

Ichinojo defeats Midorifuji – You have to admire Midorifuji’s courage, he has to have seen Kiribayama’s day 9 attempt to grapple Ichinojo, and he somehow said to himself, “I am going to try that too!”. Well, it was just as pointless as once you get a hold of Ichinojo, he gets a hold of you, and you realize you have no way to let go. So you try to bide your time, but Ichinojo is quite comfortable and possibly napping. You then realize that you are simply going to have to make it look good. Ichinojo advances to 7-3 to remain at the edge of the group chasing Daieisho.

Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama had the early advantage, and fired up his thrusting attack. Sadanoumi took the punishment and got inside and them got Aoiyama moving back. I notice that Sadanoumi’s leg was not as heavily wrapped today as it had been in earlier matches. Maybe that gave him some of his speed and mobility back. Both end the day 5-5.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Myogiryu – Well, they traded push back mattas, and it was clear they were annoyed with each other. When they got underway on the 3rd attempt, Myogiryu attempted a double hand slap down, but could not make it stick. Myogiryu found himself without any defensive elements to the match, and Terutsuyoshi blasted him out to improve to 4-6.

Akua defeats Tokushoryu – Sharing is caring, they say, and today Akua gave Tokushoryu the gift of make-koshi, which he received on day 9 from Tobizaru. This was another extended chest to chest match, though nothing on the scale of Ichinojo’s long duration endurance challenge. I did not like the way Tokushoryu’s left knee / leg collapsed at the end. I hope he is not injured. Both end the day at 2-8.

Meisei defeats Kiribayama – It was a battle of the slap / pull down attempts, and while it was not pretty, it all worked out for Meisei. Meisei tried one first, giving the advantage to Kiribayama who responded moments later and that loss of forward pressure was all Meisei needed. Why do these guys try to respond to a dumb move with their own version of the dumb move? I see it far too much in sumo. Meisei improves to 7-3 and stays 2 behind Daieisho.

Kotoeko defeats Tobizaru – Another day with a flying hands of fury match involving Kotoeko. He has the right partner for that activity in Tobizaru, and they two went at it like a pair of tabbies jacked up on catnip. Sometimes I do love a good “kitchen sink” match, and this was pretty close to that, with Kotoeko ultimately giving Tobizaru a powerful shove over the bales for the win. Both end the day 4-6.

Ryuden defeats Yutakayama – Ryuden did a fantastic job of robbing Yutakayama of his offensive tools. He locked him up early and drove him back and out within 5 steps, leaving Yutakayama no room to maneuver, and no room to push back. Ryuden has won 3 of is last 4 and improves to 4-6.

Kagayaki defeats Shimanoumi – Possibly the best sumo from Kagayaki so far this tournament. He stayed low, kept his stance wide, kept his feet heavy and his shoulder square. Shimanoumi battled back well, but once Kagayaki gets into this mode, he’s quite powerful. Kagayaki improves to 5-5.

Takarafuji defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho continues his relentless drive toward a 0-15 result, which is slightly easier to obtain than a zensho result. Its heart breaking, as the guy really has some excellent sumo. Kotoshoho came close today when Takarafuji fell out of the ring with Kotoshoho, but it was clear that Takarafuji’s hand touched down after Kotoshoho’s foot it the janome. Takarafuji improves to 6-4.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with (once again) The Most Powerful Make-Koshi in Sumo! Hokutofuji had a couple of good hits, but this was all Daieisho, and he improves to 9-1 and maintains sole possession of the lead.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Takayasu had some great hand placement, catching Tochinoshin under the armpits with a meaty shove that ruined his balance and left him wide open to be attacked and moved out. Takayasu improves to 6-4.

Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – Ok, maybe Mitakeumi has his act together now. He takes down fellow tadpole Onosho and knocks him out of the group 2 losses behind Daieisho. Mitakeumi guessed that Onosho would bring his center of balance as far forward as he could, and timed his release of pressure and pull down superbly. He improves to 5-5.

Takanosho defeats Terunofuji – I am gobsmacked by this one. On what planet was Takanosho the winner. Oh well, anyone surprised that Terunofuji got the short end of another monoii? I sure am not. Takanosho’s gymnastics to stay airborne as they both went out were spectacular. Both end the day 6-4.

Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi opened with a powerful combo, which Asanoyama absorbed well, got his hands around Tamawashi and took control of the match. He improves to 7-3 to remain 2 behind Daiesho.

Shodai defeats Endo – Endo is a master tactician, and had a great formula for today’s match against Shodai. He had the Ozeki off balance and dancing around to maintain footing, and then the cartoon sumo kicked in. Shodai’s in the middle of being thrown, and suddenly he pivots and its Endo thats off balance. Shodai continues the rotation and they both crash over the bales. The gumbai goes to Shodai, and I am left wondering what I just saw. Of course there was a monoii, as they all say in unison “What the hell was that?” But no, the cartoon sumo worked once again, and Endo lands first, and it’s kachi-koshi for Shodai.

Osaka Day 2 Preview

The Gates To Osaka’s Edion Area Are Shut

As this basho continues, I am sure that myself and the rest of the sumo fans will become accustomed to the unique environment that is the “Silent Basho” of Osaka 2020. I think maybe one of the biggest changes was the Yumitori-Shiki, or the bow twirling ceremony at the end of the day’s matches. Typically when this happens, half of the crowd is rushing to exit and catch a train, and the rest of watching with rapt attention. There are shouts that accompany the ritual, and they are, at least to me, integral to the ceremony. But as the NHK Grand Sumo Live stream showed, it happened in dead silence.

In sumo action, it was an interesting and pleasant surprise to see Shodai focused and dare I say effective. I know I have been hard on the man from Uto-shi, but I stand ready to cheer him on the moment he turns the corner, and unleashes the potential that many (myself included) knew he always had. So this actually happen (and it may be happening this March), I would give huge credit to Yokozuna Kakuryu. Kakuryu has shown himself to be a very capable mentor and instructor, and if he can impart a variation of his reactive sumo onto Shodai, I think everyone would enjoy the results. Here’s to hoping that Shodai in on an upward path.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Meisei vs Kotonowaka – This first time match will give Meisei a chance to bounce back from his fairly weak opening day match against Shimanoumi. But Kotonowaka brings advantages in size, weight and strength, along with a suspicion that he will enjoy the typical first basho in the top division hot-streak.

Daiamami vs Shimanoumi – These two seem to have a match about once a year, so if its March, its time for them to fight. I would not call out either as having a clear advantage, other than to say that Shimanoumi seems to have come into Osaka ready to compete.

Tsurugisho vs Azumaryu – Tsurugisho has a 11-4 career advantage over Azumaryu. Simply put he has a solid formula for winning. To my eye, it comes down to Tsurugisho’s superior speed and normally low, wide stance.

Chiyomaru vs Nishikigi – This match will feature Nishikigi attempting to take Chiyomaru to his chest, and Chiyomaru in tsuppari mode. With an 8-2 career advantage, Nishikigi usually can grab a piece of that giant green mawashi and get into offense mode.

Kotoshogiku vs Kaisei – Kotoshogiku holds an 11-2 career record over Kaisei. I think Kaisei is susceptable to Kotoshogiku’s chest to chest attack strategies, but it will come down to how stable Kotoshogiku’s damaged knees are.

Aoiyama vs Ikioi – Another match of the grizzled veterans, we get Big Dan Aoiyama looking to stay mobile and stay hitting while Ikioi will work better close in where he can grab a piece of rubbery white flesh and move the man-mountain about. Not for the faint of heart.

Sadanoumi vs Ishiura – Ishiura tends to bring his evasive sumo form to his matches with Sadanoumi, and Sadanoumi does tend to fall for it most times. This has left Ishiura with a 7-3 career advantage, and a strong favorite in today’s fight.

Terutsuyoshi vs Tochiozan – Both rikishi lost their day 1 matches, and both want to put something into the win column. We did not get to see any high-efficiency sumo from Tochiozan, and really no pixie magic from Terutsuyoshi. Let’s hope that day 2 brings them back to form.

Chiyotairyu vs Tochinoshin – Although Tochinoshin holds an 8-2 career advantage, those numbers were racked up when the former-Ozeki’s body was in fighting form. I suspect this match will take a much different form, as Tochinoshin’s undercarriage may not even provide enough support to allow him to resist Chiyotairyu’s opening attack.

Shohozan vs Takanosho – Shohozan does tend to get “fired up” in his sumo, and I wonder if whatever face / head wound he picked up day 1 might have him eager to go out and resolve some of his frustrations against Takanosho. Shohozan will try to stay mobile, and keep hitting. Takanosho will try to close in and thrust his way to a win.

Kiribayama vs Tamawashi – Another first-time match, but I think there will be more Tamawashi “power thrust” on day 2. Kiribayama is smaller, lighter and may get a rough run from his Mongolian countryman who will out-class him in almost every factor.

Myogiryu vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s normal policy of “Defend and Extend” does not work very well against the improvisational combo-attack style of Myogiryu, who puts a lot of effort into disrupting his opponent’s balance. This shows in his 13-6 career lead over Takarafuji.

Kagayaki vs Onosho – I am keen to see these two square off. They have 5 wins each over their career, and it’s going to be a great clash of relentless fundamentals (Kagayaki) vs explosive speed and brutal forward power (Onosho).

Enho vs Ryuden – Enho took their only prior match, and after getting shut down and put away without his supper on day 1, Enho needs to bounce back. Ryuden (aka Shin-Ikioi) has been very much hit or miss over the past 6 months, but he looked much more calm and focused day 1 than I have seen him in some time. Let’s hope that is a start of a trend.

Abi vs Mitakeumi – A lot of fans want Abi to bounce back and return to the san’yaku. His wild, frantic sumo may have become predictable, and that will force him to adapt. Mitakeumi holds a 5-2 career advantage, and I am interested to see if Mitakeumi is over his various injuries that have hobbled his sumo this winter.

Yutakayama vs Endo – Endo suffered a critical body position / balance mistake day 1 against Yokozuna Hakuho, and I think he will be primed to take down Yutakayama on day 2. The two have a 3-3 career record, but Endo will probably look to get that left hand shallow grip at the tachiai. If he can land it, he should control the match.

Asanoyama vs Tokushoryu – I am really glad that Tokushoryu seems to be such an easy going, good natured person, as I think he is going to be eating a lot of Osaka clay this March. But be aware, Tokushoryu won their only prior match at Aki 2017.

Takayasu vs Shodai – This is the sort of match where we typically see Shodai’s cartoon sumo come out in full force. It will be all about defending against Takayasu’s lethal left. If he can repeat Takakeisho’s shut down of the former Ozeki’s primary weapon, he may start 2-0.

Takakeisho vs Okinoumi – Not taking anything away from Okinoumi, who is a consummate professional, and always does his best, but he is 6-1 against the lone surviving Ozeki. In fact the only time that he has beaten Takakeisho was day 2 of Natsu 2018 when Takakeisho was just a wee tadpole at Maegashira 10.

Hakuho vs Daieisho – My suspicions about his left foot aside, Hakuho seems to be brutally dialed into his sumo. So I am going to look for Daieisho to lose in the first 10 seconds.

Hokutofuji vs Kakuryu – A great match to end the day. Hokutofuji struggled to get his sumo on rhythm on day 1, and that is just the kind of malfunction that Kakuryu really enjoys. If Hokutofuji is not tack-sharp, we may see him on the receiving end of thrust down or throw.

Nagoya Day 4 Preview

Hey, Shin-Ikioi… Get Ready

We are only up to day 4, and we already have some very interesting developments in the basho. Ryuden is up today vs The Boss, and while I don’t expect him to beat Hakuho, I am curious to see how much of a challenge he presents. His sumo has taken on some great techniques that I think are going to cause all kinds of havoc in his lower ranking week 2 matches.

We also seem to have a switch in Takayasu’s sumo to a more deliberate, powerful style. I suspect this was forged in endless practice sessions with Araiso Oyakata, and it seems to still be settling in. We might see some very nice results in September, and better still in November if he can stick with it, and make it work.

Tomokaze is showing fantastic sumo, and I think he has a lot of potential. As we have been communicating at Tachiai, we are in an evolving transitional period in sumo, and it’s starting to become clear who some of the stars of the next era of sumo are likely to be, and I think Tomokaze could be a star.

Last but certainly not least, even though he comes to the dohyo heavily bandaged each day, Enho is a force in sumo at this rank. The question remains open as to what happens to him once he is placed higher up the banzuke. He is so amazingly fast, and never ever gives up. The crowd loves him, and so does Team Tachiai.

What We Are Watching Day 4

Toyonoshima vs Kaisei – Kaisei is finally done with those pesky short guys and their hyper-speed sumo. That right arm looks like it is a constant bother, so we know he is competing at less than genki levels. Toyonoshima needs a win in a bad way, and he holds a 6-2 career advantage over Kaisei, though their last head to head match was 2016!

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – Pixie fight! This should be a giant pile of ultra awesome early in the top division day. I expect a lot of action, a lot of changes in who is dictating the match, and possible a few “did you see that” moves.

Chiyomaru vs Yago – While I have confidence that Chiyomaru can get his sumo in gear by the middle weekend and still end up with 7 or 8 wins, it seems something has broken lose in Yago-land, and his sumo is suffering. The guy has all of the tools needed to dominate this low in the banzuke, so I am going to assume its mostly some undisclosed injury.

Kotoyuki vs Sadanoumi – Kotoyuki went back to the shitaku-beya following his match, feeling like something was missing. Yes, he was unable to great the fine people who had made it to the venue to watch sumo. He had not been able to land his large, sweaty form in the middle of well connected ladies and high ranking corporate executives, and this left him feeling down. Today will be the day, Kotoyuki let your dreams take flight!

Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – I am sorry, but this match has me really interested. Nishikigi has been strong but slow since May, and Kagayaki was a dumpster fire for all of Natsu. Now Kagayaki seems to gotten most of his sumo back, and is ready to fight with limited gusto. I am sure Nishikigi will hug the nearest blurry object, and pin their arms to his body, then walk forward. I want to see Kagayaki do something unexpected here.

Tochiozan vs Takagenji – As Tochiozan ages out, his “hot” streaks are fewer and further between. Takagenji seems to be on a hot streak of his own right now. and his sumo looks better than I have recalled seeing it in over a year.

Shohozan vs Kotoeko – A’slappin and a’poundin and a’smackin and a’shovin. This match has all of the goodies one hopes to see on a day at “The Sumo”. Shohozan is eventually going to get it in gear. Maybe today is the day.

Daishoho vs Okinoumi – Also in the “aging out” group we find Okinoumi. This is his first ever match against the winless Daishoho. I would expect that the man who put Shimane-ken in the sumo lexicon will dominate over the hapless Mongolian.

Myogiryu vs Onosho – Career favors Onosho 3-1, but Onosho can’t keep his weight centered since his knee injury. Unless he gets his balance down, its going to be face plant after face plant. Oh, and bring back that red mawashi. Whatever kami was in that thing was a real fighter.

Tomokaze vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has yet to take one from Tomokaze, who I am thinking will be a force for the future. Hell, Shimanoumi might be too, but he needs a bit of seasoning.

Kotoshogiku vs Chiyotairyu – Oh goodie, this one is lopsided for the Kyushu Bulldozer, as Kotoshogiku leads the career series 13-1. Not that Chiyotairyu lacks any power or fighting spirit, but Kotoshogiku seems very dialed in right now.

Takarafuji vs Ichinojo – Bruce want monster-Ichinojo to pick up puny Takarafuji and take him home to meet the pony. (11-2 carer favors Ichinojo)

Aoiyama vs Meisei – I was not expecting Meisei to open Nagoya 0-3 (I am sure neither was he). Save for the one match with Goeido, Aoiyama has looked in form and powerful. I don’t expect Meisei to correct the slide today.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Readers of Tachiai know how I feel about Shodai. He’s nearly as annoying as Endo in the breaks he gets, but without the good looks or technical sumo chops. But he does tend to blow Mitakeumi up. I am sure this really annoys Mitakeumi, too.

Endo vs Tamawashi – I think this is the match where Tamawashi overcomes his extensive, explosive and crippling ring-rust. 0-3? Come on! Go smack Endo the Golden around, I am sure he does not want another interview this basho, so help him get a make-koshi, if you would.

Daieisho vs Tochinoshin – A sumo fan using the wonderful sumodb might assume that the schedulers had given Tochinoshin a lovely cupcake with his match today against Daieisho. But I am going to assume that Tochinoshin’s injuries are performance limiting enough that this is more or less a bit of a “decider”. If you can’t overcome Daieisho, maybe you need to go kyujo. Let’s see if Tochinoshin can rally.

Asanoyama vs Takayasu – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, than you for blessing your humble sumo fans with this match. We hope that it involves two burly men grabbing each other bodily and trying to toss the other one around. Grant us our pleas that we might see yet another Takayasu rematch, and an endless shimpan parade.

Goeido vs Hokutofuji – Both of these men like to blast off the line with the subtlety of a bowling ball to the crotch. What he hell happens at a quantum level where these two guys slam into each other? I do expect that yet again, Hokutofuji will fight brilliantly, but lose. This seems to be the stage he is in right now with his sumo career.

Kakuryu vs Abi – Kakuryu is looking really good right now, and I am eager to see him play with Abi before he puts him into the clay. But you have to love Abi, the guy really gets pumped when it’s time for his match, and it’s really clear that he has a lot of fun with the sport.

Ryuden vs Hakuho – Oh good heavens! This has the potential to be quite the battle. Hakuho seems to only be about 80% genki, and that may be degraded enough that Ryuden can put him in that pain-pose that he has been using for the last dozen or so matches. Of course we have all seen Hakuho use it in the past, so I am hoping he has some special magical moves to counter it with a flourish and a thud.