Kisenosato’s Shikona Added To The Yokozuna Stone


Tomioka Hachiman

Friday Ceremony At Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

Part of attaining the lofty rank of Yokozuna includes the privilege of having your shikona recorded for the ages on a monument at the Tomioka shrine in Tokyo. The Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is also known as the birthplace of Kanjin-zumō (勧進相撲), founded in 1684, and origin of the current professional sumo. In the days of the shogunate, the spring and fall tournaments were held within the shrine’s grounds, and thus is has a deep history in sumo.

The Yokozuna stone was built around 1900 AD by the 12th Yokozuna, Jinmaku, to commemorate all sumotori who reach sumo’s top rank. Today, it was Kisenosato’s turn to see the kanji for his name added to the monument, next to Kakuryu’s. As part of the ceremony, Kisenosato performed a dohyo-iri, with former dew-sweeper Shohozan moving up to sword-bearer, and Kagayaki taking the role of herald / dew-sweeper. The team appeared in the striking Red Fuji kesho mawashi set, leaving the “Fist of the North Star” set at home.

As with all things Kisenosato, the ceremony was attended by thousands who packed the grounds of the shrine.

Natsu Wrap Up & Day 15 Highlights


Hakuho-15

The Boss Is Back

In completing his perfect yusho, Yokozuna Hakuho has made it clear that he is back in form and ready to resume his reign as the dai-Yokozua. It’s been a long, difficult road for Hakuho. After he injured his foot in Nagoya, he chose to miss Aki and undergo an operation to reconstruct his big toe and to fix parts of his knee. The recovery was not easy. The surgery and immobility afterwords had a bigger impact than I am sure he expected. As a result he has been under performing for months.

In that period, we have seen some rikish who would normally be eking out kachi-koshi scores here and there truly excel. This is in part because to top predator (and some of his cohorts) have been under performing, in culling rikishi from the ranks.

You can think of it this way, for Hakuho to get to 15 wins, the rest of Makuuchi had to absorb 15 losses. With Hakuho kyujo, someone else got those 15 wins. Everyone’s score increased. You got to see Kisenosato finally make Yokozuna, you got to see Goeido take a zensho yusho. You got to see Kakuryu rack up (at last) a yusho himself. It’s been a great year without a Hakuho. But now he is back, and he is genki and he is ready to rule once more.

A sign of that include his late pushes after a match have returned, so maybe he feels he is fine and will stay fine, and he is free to be Hakuho the great. This has huge implications for sumo for the next year or two. Specifically the other Yokozuna and anyone wishing to follow Takayasu up the Ozeki trail.

For a long time nobody but Hakuho could yusho. When he is / was healthy he is / was unstoppable. We saw that again here during Natsu. Is he back to that level? He wants you to think he is, to be sure. But is he? Maybe? But it’s clear that the one armed Yokozuna needs a repair job if he wants to contend once more. It would be brutally sad if Kisenosato had to follow Kakuryu into a series of revolving kyujos due to a combination of untreated and unresolved injuries, and a mighty, nearly unbeatable uber-sumotori at the top of the heap.

Chiyonokuni finished 2-13. He’s much better than that, and I think he still has a lot of promise. He just peaked hard when a lot of other sekitori were flailing, and he got caught in a storm of beat downs by everyone. He will recover, he will be back. He’s one to watch.

Okinoumi & Takarafuji finished 3-12. Both are old for rikishi, both have various performance limiting injuries. This is one of the problems with Makuuchi at the moment, its full of guys in their 30s. As a pure meritocracy, it’s full of people who can win, and those that can’t win go away over time. We are in one of those times, but because of the way the banzuke works, it could take a long time before fading veterans make way for the up and coming hard chargers.

Daieisho, Aoiyama, Takekaze, Toyohibiki, Myogiryu & Yutakayama finished 4-11. You might expect there to be a brutal banzuke thump down for these rikishi, but for every down there must be an up. And many of the pressure from the lower ranks you might expect did not materialize due to near absolute parity in Juryo. 13 Juryo wresters ended with 8-7 or 7-8.

Matches That Mattered On Day 15

Ura defeats Daishomaru – Ura does a reverse tachiai. You can rightly ask “what the hell was that?”, but hey! it worked! Was it a henka? No, not really. Was it strange? Yes. I thought I saw Daishomaru smiling and maybe giggling a bit over what had just happened, but then I had already had a glass of sake, so who knows.

Tochinoshin defeats Toyohibiki – Kind of sour ending by back to back henkas from Tochinoshin. I am going to guess he re-injured that mummified knee, and that’s why he henka’d his last two matches.

Ishiura defeats Takekaze – Ishiura gets to be Hakuho’s standard bearer – very happy for Ishiura, he pulled out a kachi-koshi on the last day. He has some work to do, and hopefully a healthy Hakuho can provide some assistance. His deshi needs some upgrades.

Tochiozan defeats Shohozan – Both end with 6-9, both are in the older crowd that is lingering around, due to lack of pressure from Juryo. Don’t get me wrong, Makuuchi is good sumo now, but it could and should be better. But right now Juryo is kind of broken for some reason I have not figured out. There should be a crop of early 20’s rikishi who stand these old guys on their ear daily, but that is not happening.

Hokutofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Hokutofuji joins the joi next basho, I would assume. It will be time to see if the up-and-comer has the mojo to really make a stand against the San’yaku. With a healthy Hakuho, it could be a blood bath again (as the basho were before he was hurt a year ago). Yoshikaze at this point is just running up his personal score. While we fans out side Japan mostly focus on what the NHK video shows us, it’s important to note that inside the sumotori community, everyone loves Yoshikaze, and I predict that once he retires and exercises his kabu, he is going to be a very big deal in sumo management indeed.

Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – Whatever they put in Shodai’s chanko the last few days, do keep it up! Next basho, we get Shodai back in the joi, and it’s bloodbath time for him, too!

Kotoshogiku defeats Ikioi – Well, that was like the Kotoshogiku of old. We should all enjoy it while it lasts. It’s sort of sad to see him fade, but I guess he is still calling his own outcomes, so I praise his persistence. Ikioi is still hit or miss, but then he has been for a while now.

Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido 1.0 came back for old time’s sake. Now that Kadoban is lifted for a few months, he can afford to be unfocused. Please go get rested, ready and strong Goeido. Nothing would confound the critics and delight the fans more than a second basho full of Goeido 2.0. Who knows, you might even convince Hakuho to retire…

Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – I love the Kaiju when he’s on his sumo. Although I am a ginormous Takayasu fan, it was very good to see Terunofuji deploy all of his moves against the man who will be Ozeki. Even to the point of crushing his arms, which we have not seen in some time. People use to be afraid of facing this guy because they would leave the bout hurt. If Kisenosato can be restored to working order, Takayasu will make a great Ozeki. But while he is training on his own (like he was the for the past 2 months) he is vulnerable. The two are a team, and together they will excel.

Hakuho defeats Harumafuji – Kind of one for the ages. It was a great match, especially the series of moves Hakuho used to change the dynamics of the match and get Harumafuji un-stuck and moving backwards. Given Harumafuji’s re-injury to his ankle, I think he put on a hell of a performance. My complements to both men

Natsu Day 14 Highlights


Goeido

This Basho Keeps Giving

I have recalled many tournaments where things fade a bit on the last few days, the yusho is kind of a foregone conclusion, or there are no really competitive things going on except maybe a few top matches. Given the number of sekitori that have withdrawn, this seemed quite possible this basho, but it has kept fans engaged right up until the end. This is a fine example of the schedulers spinning gold out of straw, and I complement them without reservation.

We were following the Komusubi, and both of them locked up kachi-koshi today, which is a fantastic and interesting development. There is one Sekiwake slot open for July, and it’s going to come down to the final day and total win count to see who gets it. Either of them would be a great choice, but in spite of being a huge Yoshikaze fan, I think Mitakeumi is the better fit.

Although no one in the Japanese sumo press discussing this much, it’s clear that Harumafuji’s performance took a step down after his bouts earlier this week. He had very little power to ground with Goeido today, who (thankfully) had the mojo to exploit the weakness and drive to a win. There had been some cat calls over Goiedo’s easy path to lift kadoban, but with a win over a Yokozuna, he’s got nothing to hide from now.

Juryo keeps refusing to behave. We now have two rikishi at 9-5, and 12 (!) at 8-6. Furthermore, the two leaders right now are none other than long suffering sekitori Nishikigi, who would be welcome back in Makuuchi, and the relic Aminishiki, who is now 38 years old! Never give up, never surrender!

Highlight Matches

Chiyotairyu defeats Gagamaru – Chiyotairyu picks up his kachi-koshi, and holds onto Makuuchi in a match against Planet Gagamaru. Gagamaru is a real mixed bag, like Ichinojo, he probably relies too much on a lot of mass as a defensive system. There is a lot to be said for bulk in sumo, but there are a host of sumotori who lose mobility and attack power as their weight climbs. I would count Gagamaru among them. I bet he would improve greatly if he shed 10-15 kg before July.

Onosho defeats Arawashi – Arawashi is now make-koshi, and Onosho keeps rolling on. It’s really kind of impressive the sumo he has been able to put together on his Makuuchi debut, and I hope it’s a sign of good battles to come. Arawashi was late in setting up his throw, and was out before he could swing Onosho down.

Shohozan defeats Kaisei – Kaisei’s demotion to Juryo or persistence in Makuuchi comes down to the final day, he is now at 7=7 after his loss to Shohozan.

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Ura has still never beaten Takakeisho in a match. Today Ura looked out of control, vague and confused. Takakeisho had Ura under control and off the dohyo in a hurry, and it was really impressive.

Hokutofuji defeats Endo – Ok… Endo beats two Ozeki and a Yokozuna this basho. He even put Yoshikaze away on day 11. Yet he is deeply make-koshi, and lost to a Maegashira 7 today. Granted, Hokutofuji is a powerful up-and-comer, but Endo either has some mechanical injury, or needs to get his mind in his sumo. We hope the stretch between now and July can help him get things together.

Yoshikaze defeats Tochiozan – Solid match from both, but it was all Yoshikaze today. He gets his kachi-koshi and will stay in San’yaku for July. I also get the impression that Yoshikaze is really have fun with his sumo this basho. He has not looked this dialed in since last summer.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – HENKA! The NHK commentator, Hiro Morita, was really upset by this. But let’s get real here, Tochinoshin was squirrels before the tachiai, he practically telegraphed this to Tamawashi. Tamawashi, keep your head up and eyes on your opponents center of mass during the tachiai. Everyone who plays a football lineman in the US understands this. It’s not that tough.

Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – Ojisan seems really sullen and resigned now, and it’s a bit depressing. I am sure he is trying to figure out if he stays in as he floats down the banzuke, or if he takes his kabu and transitions into a behind the scenes role. He is now and can always be a big deal in sumo, but he continues to diminish.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – This one was a bit of a surprise, and in my book, it was Takayasu who made a few mistakes and Shodai who had the sumo sense to make him pay. It’s possible he was out celebrating with his mother and father (and friends) last night, and may have been a bit ragged during the match. Shodai kept moving forward, no matter what, thus he won.

Goeido defeats Harumafuji – Harumafuji is back to suffering from his lower body problems. It robs him of mobility and a strong stable platform to bend opponents into odd shapes and hurl them into the sun. He will close out the basho with a respectable double digit record, and what could be a really fun match with Hakuho. Much respect to Harumafuji indeed!

Natsu Day 14 Preview


Hakuho-dohyo-iri-13

One Last Chance To Stop Hakuho

The Dai-Yokozuna is running away with Natsu, and I am delighted. I had feared that we were in the slow fade of the Hakuho era, and that we might never see him genki again. His day 14 match is against our favorite kaiju, none other than Terunofuji. Now Terunofuji is clearly banged up, and his problematic knee or knees are once again bothering him. But I am quite sure he wants to deliver some solid sumo on Saturday. If Hakuho wins, he wins the tournament. If he loses, there is one glimmer of hope for Harumafuji in the final match of the final day.

As it’s now Saturday morning in Japan, I expect to start seeing reports on Takaysu hit the sumo / sports press in Japan. We won’t know about his Ozeki promotion for a bit, but I am sure they are speculating like mad about it. I was a bit bemused to see that his parents had to sit in the Kokugikan rafters today. Did no one affiliated with Tagonoura beya not have a pair of tickets they could give up for Big T’s folks? Did I mention he gets to play with Shodai on day 14? Maegashira 5w is a lot tougher than it normally is this time.

The basho has not lost it’s interest, as there is still the Juryo jumble, and a number of solid rikishi (including both Komusubi) fighting it out for a kachi-koshi. This makes me think about Yoshikaze. I am sure it would be a fun bragging point to make it back to Sekiwake at 35, but at this point he’s got to be wondering about the wear and tear on his berserker frame.

Natsu Leader board

LeaderHakuho
Chasers – Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takayasu

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 14

Ichinojo vs Daishomaru – Ichinojo can get his kachi-koshi today, believe it or not. He has not been really bold this basho, and one has to wonder if he is once again suffering his chronic back problems that have sapped his performance. The good news – there is no Jungyo tour after Natsu. So everyone has a chance to rest, get medical attention or go see mom and dad. Maybe Ichinojo can get his back fixed and return to being Kaiju-Jr.

Tokushoryu vs Kagayaki – Tokushoryu also pressing to close out his kachi-koshi, while Kagayaki wants to run up the score. While Kagayaki has shown some great sumo this past two weeks, he got rolled like crepe on day 13.

Shohozan vs Kaisei – Dangling by his fingertips at the sharp and rocky edge of Makuuchi, Kaisei has a shot today to cement himself as a July Maegashira rank by beating Shohozan. This won’t be too easy, as Shohozan probably bench presses more the Keisei weighs.

Ura vs Takakeisho – After a pride obliterating slap down from Ikioi on day 13, Ura tries to recover and bid for a special prize against Takakeisho. A win for Takakeisho would take him to double digits, and give him a healthy shove up the banzuke. Did I mention the dread I am feeling when I think about trying to put this chaos into my spreadsheet? I will beg our readers to only laugh a little.

Hokutofuji vs Endo – Well, Endo has a make-koshi now, and Hokotofuji will be eager to see if his improved sumo is enough to defeat a Maegashira 1. Depending on the final win tally on Sunday, we may see Hokotofuji in the dreaded upper 4 Maegashira slots for Nagoya. Personally, I am eager to see how he does against the San’yaku. Endo on the other hand will need to regroup and fight his way back up the banzuke.

Mitakeumi vs Ikioi – Will Ikioi shut down Mitakeumi’s bid for a winning record? Ikioi looked very solid, very powerful in his day 13 match against Ura, and I am hoping he brings that sumo back out for day 14. Mitakeumi is a great power sumo rikishi, and it would be great to see a strength battle between these two.

Tochiozan vs Yoshikaze – Tochiozan had a great start and then ran into trouble. I do suspect that some injury started closing in, and he reverted to his prior form. Yoshikaze is also trying to clinch his 8th win, and hold onto San’yaku. This will be an exciting match between sumo’s senior class.

Tamawashi vs Tochinoshin – Lumberjack Tochinoshin goes against Tamawashi, who really knew how to get Hakuho enraged on day 13. This time it’s going to be speed vs brute strength. Tochinoshin’s match against Shodai was incredible in the amount of force that was being exchanged back and forth between the two rikishi. Tamawashi will, I predict, stay away from that kind of match, and keep it on his terms.

Shodai vs Takayasu – Shodai gets to train with the pre-Ozeki on day 14. As some have pointed out, this might be win #12 for Takayasu, further putting a punctuation on his Ozeki bid. Then again, Shodai has a chance at bringing Takayasu back to earth for a moment, and should take every advantage of this match.

Terunofuji vs Hakuho – The Boss against Kaiju. I predict this one is over in seconds. Terunofuji is hurt. He knows it, Hakuho knows it, the fans know it. A win here would clinch the yusho for Hakuho, and maybe there is no valor to be won for Terunofuji this time. Not to imply, but he might need a favor later if his knees continue to bother him.

Harumafuji vs Goeido – I would imagine that Harumafuji is rather frustrated after his day 13 loss. I would not be surprised if he give Goeido a right proper launch into the 3rd row, and I just hope that Goeido is not injured. He and Harumafuji have a 40 match history, with Harumafuji winning 30-10. So, it’s going to be ugly. Up side, mighty fine pile of kensho should come out of this match.

Natsu Day 9 Highlights


Hakuho-dohyo-iri

Daieisho Finally Wins One

The injured Kisenosato gave up his second kinboshi today, this time to a resurgent Tochiozan. It’s been amazing to watch Kisenosato stay competitive in spite of his almost useless left upper body, but perhaps there is now a working formula to defeat him in his weakened state.

Goeido went down to Terunofuji, even though it looks like Goeido 2.0 showed up. With Terunofuji in Kaiju mode, there is not much that can slow him down. On day 8 when he picked up a bulky and squirming Mitakeumi by the shoulders and lifted him past the tawara, it was clear that everyone was in danger.

The other big news is that Kotoshogiku avoided make-koshi today by winning against Endo. Somehow Endo allowed himself to be wrapped up for a hug-n-chug, which Kotoshogiku was all to happy to apply. While it is a reprieve, the chances that Kotoshogiku won’t end up with a strong losing record are incredibly small. Will he endure a demotion back to Maegashira? Or will he take his kabu and retire to a new role helping to run and build the world of sumo?

Selected Highlights

Kyokushuho defeats Chiyotairyu – Juryo visitor Kyokushuho did in fact beat Chiyotairyu, but rather than expected slapping match, it was a straight mawashi test of strength bout.

Tokushoryu defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama picks up his make-koshi, and will probably be headed back to Juryo, that is if there is anyone in Juryo worth of promotion. This was another really fine mawashi battle that saw both rikishi put forth a strong effort.

Ishiura defeats Daishomaru – Ishiura pulls a henka after a possibly deliberate false start. Normally I would not support henka, but Ishiura is really up against the wall in terms of a winning vs losing record.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – Another battle of the mawashi (it seems to have been the day for it) that saw Kagayaki’s winning streak stopped. Fantastic effort by Onosho to first stop and then reverse Kagayaki relentless forward motion. Once he got Kagayaki moving backwards, it was all over.

Ura defeats Shohozan – Plasticman again stays ridiculously low, and baffles his opponent. The formula seems to be for him to get his opponent wrapped up on his shoulders then push them rapidly backwards and out. Hey, it’s working! Maybe it’s the chonmage-toshi?

Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – It was 100% Shodai from the start, as Hokutofuji never got his feet steady. In spite of Shodai’s sloppy tachiai, he was able to get Hokutofuji high and off balance due to Hokutofuji’s even sloppier tachiai today.

Ikioi defeats Takanoiwa – Very quick kotenage from Ikioi. The two grappled briefly at the tachiai, but Ikioi deftly rolled Takanoiwa into the rolling throw and the match was done.

Daieisho defeats Takarafuji – YES, that’s right, winless Daieisho finally scores his first win this basho, and did it in pretty good style. Watch this one if they show it on the highlights.

Yoshikaze defeats Mitakeumi – A strong start saw Yoshikaze and Mitakeumi locked up at the center of the dohyo, each trying to push the other backwards. Well, it seems to have been a strategy for Yoshikaze, because after a few moments of egging Mitakeumi on, he backed off and slapped him down. A veteran exploiting the rookies bravado and enthusiasm. We still love you Mitakeumi, you are going to be a big deal soon.

Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – Takayasu has his kachi-koshi, but his real goal of 10 wins is still 2 away. Chiyonokuni initiated a vigorous thrusting match at first, but as we have seen this basho, Takayasu stood up to it like a man made of stone. He waited for his opportunity, and grabbed Chiyonokuni’s mawashi and took control. Moments later the uwatenage was applied and Chiyonokuni was on the clay.

Tochiozan defeats Kisenosato – This was all Tochiozan from the tachiai, Kisenosato was high and off balance at once. Tochiozan walks away with his very own kensho Mt. Fuji diorama.

Hakuho defeats Aoiyama – Big Aoiyama had nothing, it was another example of The Boss having his way with any rikishi he faces. May be somewhat unstoppable until he faces Harumafuji.

Harumafuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi actually presented a reasonable challenge for a few seconds, and that just seemed to really fire up Harumafuji, who just poured on the forward pressure. Both rikishi ended up launching into the first row of zabuton. It did look as if maybe Harumafuji had some pain in his knee after their crash landing, we hope he is ok.

 

Haru Day 9 Preview


Takayasu-8

Tagonoura’s Untouchables

Today both Kisenosato and Takayasu achieved the Kachi-koshi. This matters not for Kisenosato, but for Takayasu it guarantees that he will stay in San’yaku and likely Sekiwake for the May basho. Thus far no one has been able to defeat either of these two rikishi, though Ikioi and Shohozan came terribly close today.

Shohozan had Kisenosato locked up with the double inside grip (moro-zashi), which usually indicates an impending loss. But somehow Kisenosato was able to overcome this advantage and defeat Shohozan. I really applaud Shohozan’s fantastic effort, as it was significant and well executed. Ikioi really put the pressure on Takayasu in an earlier bout, but he could not close the deal. In fact Takayasu seems to almost enjoy locking up someone like Ikioi in the center of the dohyo. If you re-watch that match, you can see Takayasu’s arm go limp, he does this when in this kind of bout. He forced Ikioi to support as much of Takayasu’s amazing mass as possible, wearing Ikioi down. Once he sensed that Ikioi’s strength was waning, he went into action and won.

Some things to look forward to in the Yusho race

  • Terunofuji vs Kisenosato – Oh yes, these two have not met yet this basho. With Terunofuji one off the leader pace, a win against Kisenosato would change the landscape dramatically.
  • Takayasu vs Harumafuji – If the Horse has the strength and health, he can and could defeat Takayasu with any number of his typical winning moves. I repeat that Takayasu’s mighty tachiai is just begging someone to throw in a henka
  • Kakuryu vs Kisenosato – If Kakuryu sticks to his reactive sumo, he can goad Kisenosato into over-reacting and then exploit his mistakes.

Any way you look at it, the chances of the two rikishi from Tagonoura remaining undefeated are still quite long.

On the other hand, Kotoshogiku does indeed have a chance of reclaiming his Ozeki glory. He only needs to win 4 of the remaining 7 matches. He has already faced 2 of the 3 Yokozuna.

Haru Leader board

LeadersKisenosato, Takayasu
Hunt Group – Terunofuji, Tochiozan
Chasers – Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Kotoshogiku, Chiyonokuni, Chiyoshoma, Tokushoryu

7 Matches Remain

Matches We Like

Myogiryu vs Ura – Ura is really struggling for a formula that is consistent for his Makuuchi matches, and he has yet to figure it out. Fortunately he is 4-4, for Kachi-koshi is not out of the question. His opponent Myogiryu tends to win against Ura, having defeated him 5 times in their prior 8 matches.

Tokushoryu vs Tochiozan – Tochiozan is not attracting much press, but he has only one loss thus far, and is tied for second place with Terunofuji on the leader board. I am going to assume at some point if he keeps winning, the schedulers are going to have Tochiozan face Terunofuji. But today he gets Tokushoryum whom he should be able to defeat easily. Tochiozan has won all 3 of the prior matches.

Kagayaki vs Ishiura – In his third Makuuchi basho, Ishiura seems to be holding his own at last. He is fighting well, and he is finding a way to overcome and win. Kagayaki is struggling and needs to keep working on his sumo. Ishiura leads their prior meetings 5-0.

Endo vs Okinoumi – This is likely to be a highlight bout, as both of these men are performing well this basho. I expect a lot of mawashi action and maybe an attempt at a throw or two. Endo leads their career meetings 3-2.

Shohozan vs Kaisei – Shohozan is one loss away from Make-koshi, which is a shame given how well he has been competing. Today he faces hapless Kaisei, which should be an fairly easy victory.

Mitakeumi vs Shodai – This was bound to happen at some point. I like watching Shodai, but he needs to fix his tachiai. If he can do that, he can be a contender. Mitakeumi has been fighting well, but is starting to suffer a string of losses. Both rikishi come into this bout at 3-5, Shodai leads their career match ups 4-2.

Takekaze vs Takayasu – Takayasu must be prepared for Takekaze’s henka. If he falls to it, he has no one but himself to blame. In a flat out fight, it’s Takayasu’s advantage, but Takekaze is well equipped with many really nice, unexpected moves.

Ikioi vs Terunofuji – Ikioi looked hurt after his bout with Takayasu. Now he is going to face a resurgent Terunofuji, and I am just hoping that Ikioi survives undamaged. If Terunofuji wins, which I expect, this will be his Kachi-koshi and his kadoban status will be erased. Ikioi has only defeated Terunofuji once in their prior 8 bouts, and it was during a basho where Terunofuji was clearly injured.

Kotoshogiku vs Kisenosato – This is actually a big challenge for Kisenosato. Kotoshogiku has a habit of beating him, especially when Kisenosato needs to win. Kotoshogiku actually leads their career series 33-30. If he lets Kotoshogiku land a solid grip, like he allowed Shohozan to do on day 7, this will get ugly. Kisenosato needs to keep things moving and not let the human bulldozer get to work.

Haru Day 6 Results


Shohozan

Shohozan Kinboshi, Kisenosato, Takayasu and Tochiozan Remain Undefeated

Shohozan had not won a single bout this tournament, but turned on the power in the final match of the day to win against Yokozuna Kakuryu.

Meanwhile, Kisenosato and Takayasu finished an exciting day of sumo undefeated. This is actually a remarkable achievement by two men who are executing a really solid form of sumo. It should be noted that both of them train their brains out daily, and for the last 6 months or so have totally devoted their lives to achieving greatness in the sport. Heading up to the half way point, they are the ones to beat

In my greatly anticipated match of the pocket warriors, Ura prevailed over Ishiura. Interesting to see both of them try to come in super low at the tachiai. Ura established an arm lock on Ishiura and scored a frontal push out win (oshidashi).

Tochiozan dispatched Sadanoumi to remain undefeated. I might add that Tochiozan is looking very solid, in control and executing well. He is not getting the attention that the Tagonoura Heya rikishi are, but his record is fairly impressive after several basho of of uninspiring performance.

In Okinoumi’s win over Ichinojo, Okinoumi was clearly in control the entire time. While Ichinojo has greatly improved as of late, he needs to develop more by matching against veterans like Okinoumi.

Chiyonokuni has also been fighting very well, currently at 4-2. He blasted Endo off the dohyo to score his latest win. Endo has his followers, but matches like this should give his fans pause. Also in the “fighting really well” category, Chiyoshoma. He went to 5-1 today with a win over Hokotofuji, who will likely have his first career make-koshi.

Would you believe that Kotoshogiku won again? Yes indeed! Mitakeumi gave it a lot of effort, but made the mistake of going chest-to-chest with Kotoshogiku. With the hard part done, Kotoshogiku began the hug-n-chug process, and Mitakeumi learned you should never open the door for him to do that.

The match of the day, Takayasu vs Terunofuji, turned out to follow the theme for this basho thus far. Terunofuji launched out of the tachiai with intensity and action, Takayasu focused on moving forward strongly and with purpose. It was over in seconds with Terunofuji picking up his first loss.

Takarafuji fared no better against Kisenosato, but he put in a more valiant effort and gave Kisenosato a good struggle. There is more than a week to go, but fans may want to begin to fantasize about a final day playoff between Kisenosato and Takayasu for the yusho. That, dear readers, would possibly be legendary.

The Harumfuji vs Yoshikaze match was in fact the street brawl their bouts typically are. Harumafuji picked up the win by what can best be described as a slippiotoshi, when Yoshikaze face-planted into the clay after losing his footing. Like in Kyushu, there have been a large number of traction control problems on the Osaka dohyo this basho. Perhaps it should be addressed.

And in the final match of the day, Shohozan surprised Kakuryu, in a nice convincing win. I am very happy that Shohozan picked up a kinboshi. It’s clear that Kakuryu was not in top form today.

A great weekend of sumo lies ahead, as we head to the half way point of the Osaka tournament.