Nagoya Day 4 Highlights

Toyonoshima bulldozed Kaisei to start the makuuchi bouts. At the tachiai he scoops Kaisei, low, and gets a double inside grip and drives Kaisei back to the tawara. Kaisei resisted, briefly, tried to side-step, tried to make a throw but Toyonoshima’s girth and persistence paid off. On the third shove, Toyonoshima succeeded in pushing Kaisei out, yorikiri. Both stand at 1-3. Kaisei’s arm is clearly still hurting. Rather than cleaning up at this low level, he’ll be lucky to survive in makuuchi.

Enho tried to go low against Terutsuyoshi but against a fellow pixie who’s not keen to yield a quick belt grip, that’s rather impossible. Terutsuyoshi forced Enho back and off the edge. The gyoji called out, “matta” since Enho didn’t have his hands down, so they did it again. The second attempt didn’t help Enho as Terutsuyoshi’s nodowa-aided drive overpowered Enho and Hakuho’s deshi crumpled off the dohyo in a replay of the matta from a few moments before. The call was oshitaoshi. Enho’s first loss of the tournament while Terutsuyoshi, according to Herouth, is going for the zensho yusho. Personally, I think Hakuho would take his revenge for the beat down Enho received today.

Chiyomaru was looking to play games against Yago before the tachiai, but Yago wasn’t having any of it, forcing both to reset. They finally met with a strong tachiai, Yago driving Chiyomaru back but Chiyomaru resisted on the edge where both wrestlers settled into a left-inside grip. A lot of leaning and Chiyomaru showed the initiative, surprisingly driving Yago back, but Yago used the tawara to resist and drive back toward center. Chiyomaru drove again but Yago countered quickly. Chiyomaru gave up the belt and started to try to slap his way out but it was way too late and Yago forced Chiyomaru out, yorikiri.

Kotoyoki is not happy if a wrestler doesn’t end up sitting among the fans. Sadanoumi opted for trying to meet Kotoyuki’s thrusts head-on which was not a good idea. Kotoyuki continued to thrust, getting a few decent nodowa in there before eventually Sadanoumi took his seat in the second row of spectators. Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between an oshidashi and tsukidashi. Kotoyuki made it unmistakeably tsuki, “To the Moon, Alice.” Both are level, 2-2 for the tournament.

Kagayaki met Nishikigi head on. The strong tachiai gave Nishikigi a strong position at the center of the dohyo but Kagayaki used his leverage to begin driving his opponent back. Nishikigi was able to pivot and throw Kagayaki to his left for a kotenage win. Again, both level, 2-2 for the tournament.

Tochiozan endured a fierce tsuppari hail storm named Takagenji, interspersed with lightning strike headbutts. Takagenji may have worn himself out as late in the bout he decided to go for Tochiozan’s belt. That’s when Tochiozan pivoted on the edge and drove the young rookie down for his first loss. Takagenji had a clear upper hand for most of the very aggressive, action-filled bout but he picked up his first loss to tsukiotoshi. Tochiozan improves to 2-2 while Takagenji sits at a very respectable 3-1.

Kotoeko put an unfortunate premature end to what promised to be a good slapfest by slipping. The abbreviated bout was nonetheless action-packed. After the vigorous trading of slaps, Shohozan twisted, forcing Kotoeko to lose his grip and balance, flopping into the splits in the center of the dohyo. Hatakikomi, both sit 2-2.

Daishoho drove Okinoumi backward but Okinoumi was able to resist, forcing both wrestlers back to the center. Okinoumi pushed back but Daishoho’s thrusts were too much, and he forced Okinoumi to sit in the corner and think about what he’d done. Both are now 1-3.

Onosho allowed Myogiryu to drive the pair back to the edge, then Onosho resisted and let Myogiryu’s momentum flip himself over while Onosho fell out. On review, both were judged to fall out (or be dead) at the same time so the shimpan ordered a torinaoshi, redo. Myogiryu tried the same forward drive and Onosho tried the same sidestep on the edge but on the second attempt Onosho clearly stepped out. Myogiryu gets the oshitaoshi force out win and improves to 3-1 while Onosho slips to 1-3.

Tomokaze forced Shimanoumi straight back with strong thrusts to the chin and upper body, oshidashi. Tomokaze has yet to lose to Shimanoumi in three attempts…and has yet to lose this tournament. He improves to 4-0 while Shimanoumi is having another rough start. Last tournament he started off losing four of his first six, going on a tear in the second week to finish 10-5.

After the news break, Kotoshogiku and Chiyotairyu started the second half of makuuchi action. Chiyotairyu committed to a strong tachiai but quickly got his hand to the back of Giku’s head, sidestepped, and flipped Giku over for a hatakikomi win. Both are having good starts this tournament, standing at 3-1. The force down is called tsukiotoshi rathe than hatakikomi.

Ichinojo’s powerful face slaps drew oohs from the crowd and Takarafuji tried to resist for a while but eventually decided to just retreat. Ichinojo pursued as if Takarafuji had stolen his lunch money and Ichinojo wanted it back. Uncle Takara seemed happy to escape with his head still attached. This Ichinojo is 3-1 and looks strong. Takarafuji is 1-3.

Aoiyama’s slaps kept Meisei away from his belt for a while but Meisei was determined, eventually securing a belt grip. Belt hold not withstanding, Aoiyama was able to force Meisei down at the edge for the tsukiotoshi win. Aoiyama moves to 3-1 and Meisei is still searching for that first win.

Mitakeumi forced out Shodai easily. Each portion of shoulder was paired with robust thrusts to the face and upper body, driving Shodai back and out for the oshidashi win. Shodai is now level at 2-2 while Mitakeumi improves to 3-1.

Tamawashi looked to finally find his sumo but Endo showed some life, and frankly more persistence than I’ve seen from the golden boy in a while. Endo chased Tamawashi, searching for a grip. When he got a fistful of mawashi with the left hand, it was only a few more seconds before he forced Tamawashi back to his fourth straight loss. Yorikiri. Endo is 2-2.

Tochinoshin looks like he should have followed Takakeisho’s example and sat out this tournament. Daieisho was more than happy for their bout to be an oshi battle. As Tochinoshin thrust back, Daieisho stepped to the side and the Georgian ozeki couldn’t recover. Tochinoshin is winless and well on his way to another kadoban tournament. It was after a winless 4 days that he elected to sit out the rest of Hatsu and try for a winning record in Osaka. Will he continue, or pull out now? Daieisho is 2-2 and looking to face a desperate Tamawashi tomorrow.

Takayasu prevailed against Asanoyama, he was perhaps a bit too focused on securing a belt grip. As his right arm fished around, looking to gain purchase on the cloth, Asanoyama managed to get him spun sideways. The ozeki kept his balance, however, and once he secured that belt grip, executed a shitatedashinage throw. Takayasu improves to 5-1…oops, sorry, 3-1 while Asanoyama is at a respectable 1-3, midway through a rough first week.

Goeido slow rolls everybody. Hokutofuji got called on two false starts before Goeido decided to oblige and start the action. From there, Goeido didn’t have his mind made up whether he wanted to move forward (good) or retreat (bad). So he did both. He bulled forward, then pulled back to the tawara…again and again. Each time, Hokutofuji stayed with him. The forward drives weren’t forceful enough to drive him out and the change of direction in retreat wasn’t fooling anyone. Eventually, Goeido ended up sidestepping himself, and flopped down on his belly.

Kakuryu has no respect for Abi’s pushing. While the tsuppari comes fast and furious, around the Yokozuna’s face and shoulders, there appears to be little power in them since Kakuryu just pushed through, bouncing Abi out for a tsukidashi win. Kakuryu is 4-0 while Abi falls to 1-3.

Musubi-no-ichiban. While fans of the pixies likely circled the Enho/Terutsuyoshi bout as their highlight bout, the final bout of Hakuho vs Ryuden promised to be a thriller. Ryuden has more than held his own these first few days, picking up two crucial wins against ozeki. Hakuho locked in quickly with a right hand outside grip on Ryuden’s mawashi. From there, Ryuden was along for the ride, offering some resistance at the edge but the Yokozuna was in full control, ushering the upstart out, yorikiri. Hakuho is 4-0 and looking in yusho shape. Ryuden is certainly no slouch at 2-2 but he has much to learn.

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.

Natsu Day 9 Highlights

Go Ahead Myogiryu, Pull My Finger…

Shin-Ozeki Takakeisho did in fact decide to return to kyujo status on Monday morning, Tokyo time. He continues to struggle with his right knee. While the Tachiai circle of friends seem to agree it’s for the best, there are a few critics in the Japanese press. This little glimpse into that thanks to Herouth

Word is that Takakeisho (or at least Chiganoura oyakata) are taking this seriously, and Takakeisho went to the hospital Monday morning for further diagnostic work to pin down the nature and severity of the injury. Having once been young myself – and living in a cloistered all male combat oriented society (Marines), I can attest to the fact that moderate injuries are brushed aside as “nothing” by your brain. Even though you are more or less among friends, something deep in your primitive brain urges you to show no weakness.

But Takakeisho is a young, dynamic new Ozeki. He’s the kind of figure that will help continue the popularity of the sport for years to come. After the collapse of the Kisenosato franchise, it’s good to see that they are going to try to at least keep Takakeisho going strong.

Highlight Matches

Enho defeats Toyonoshima – Chances are good that Toyonoshima will be back in the top division for July, but he got shown the door today against power-pixie Enho. Toyonoshima had the initiative following a strong tachiai, but Enho used his lighter body and superior maneuverability to get out of Toyonoshima’s way as he was charging forward towards the tawara. Later big stuff, see you in Nagoya.

Sadanoumi defeats Chiyoshoma – It seems to me that about day 5, Sadanoumi decided he was exiting Natsu with a winning record, no matter what. Since then the intensity of his sumo is up nicely. He gave Chiyoshoma zero chance to do much more than hold on and enjoy the ride today.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyomaru – To his credit, Chiyomaru gets some of his thrusting attack in, but Terutsuyoshi resets his game and dives for the mawashi, finding his mark and relegating Chiyomaru to reacting. When your opponent can disappear from view, obscured by that big belly, it’s tough to counter the fact that this little guy is grabbing your crotch and hoisting you, literally, with your own petard.

Ishiura defeats Yago – Team Pixie is on fire right now, and everyone is loving it. Even Ishiura has decided it’s time to execute some aggressive, combat sumo. Yago gets the better of the tachiai, and Ishiura can’t get inside, and goes defensive. But rather than just giving up, he defects and circles multiple times. The 3rd time, Yago leaves his chest open, and in goes Ishiura. Yago tries to load a throw, but Ishiura owns the pivot point and gives Yago a face full of Tokyo clay.

Daishoho defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi owns the early part of this match, until Daishoho attempt a throw (which fails), but leaves Shimanoumi off balance and vulnerable. Daishoho attacks and takes the match. Good recovery by Daishoho.

Kotoeko defeats Tochiozan – As we had guessed, Kotoeko’s superior intensity carried the match over Tochiozan’s superior guile and cunning. Tochiozan twice went to start a pull / slap down, and each time he gave up ground to Kotoeko, who had superior foot placement, possibly in anticipation of Tochiozan’s desire to pull.

Shohozan defeats Tokushoryu – Kind of a simple match, Shohozan stands Tokushoryu at the tachiai, and plants his feet. In response, Tokushoryu dials up the forward pressure. Given Tokushoryu’s “cab-forward” design, it’s hard for him to slow down once he starts forward. Shohozan releases the breaks, and Tokushoryu does the rest.

Meisei defeats Tomokaze – Very balanced start to this match, but Tomokaze got off balance and Meisei exploded his opponent’s awkward body position for the win.

Shodai defeats Kagayaki – If readers why I sometimes call Shodai’s matches “cartoon sumo”, today is a great example. If anyone is going to benefit from their opponent losing traction, it’s probably going to be Shodai. It’s as if some off screen animator pauses things and draws an anvil teetering on the edge of the tsuriyane, that falls at just the right moment and takes out whomever Shodai is fighting. Today Kagayaki is still trying to work out what to do when the demon “slippiotoshi” grabs a hold of him and pulls him to the clay. Don’t get me wrong, Shodai does all the right things to make this kind of win possible, but its fun to see how many times his opponents just defeat themselves.

Onosho defeats Yoshikaze – After a couple of Onosho matta, Yoshikaze is getting a bit irate, and brings a fraction of his former fire into the match, but he slips more or less in the same spot that Kagayaki did, and ends up with a knee on the clay.

Takarafuji defeats Nishikigi – Takarafuji gets his right hand outside grip and Nishikigi can’t counter his opponents strength. We love Nishikigi, but he needs to regroup.

Asanoyama defeats Ryuden – Asanoyama takes one from Ryuden for the first time in the last 6 attempt. Ryuden is actually fighting well this basho, and this may be a further indication that Asanoyama is working at a higher level of sumo now. We can hope, right? Asanoyama gets his kachi-koshi, and remains in the yusho leader group.

Tamawashi defeats Daieisho – Wham-bam! Back him up and send him home! Send a tsukibeto around later with some cookies to make sure he’s ok. This seems to be the tried and true Tamawashi formula, and I think we may see a Tamawashi and Mitakeumi Sekiwake posting for July. It will be like a comfortable old shirt that you are happy to see after losing some time around last year.

Chiyotairyu defeats Endo – No hope for Endo today as he eats the full power of the Chiyotairyu canon-ball tachiai.

Mitakeumi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s nodowa produces nothing, and he quickly tries to slap / pull Mitakeumi down. Of course everyone and their uncle expect this noise, and Mitakeumi reads the shift in Hokutofuji’s balance with expert timing and surges forward. Hokutofuji can’t recover the initiative and takes a trip to the east side zabuton.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – I had been hoping to see a Kotoshogiku return to san’yaku, but the poor old guy seems to be fading into week 2. Ah well, I am admittedly sentimental. Aoiyama focused center-mass and just pushed with those giant beef towers he calls arms.

Goeido defeats Abi – I exploded in laughter at this match, and had to re-wind about 4 times to watch it over and over. As expected, we saw an Abi matta in an attempt to throw off Goeido’s timing. This is not a bad idea, but the Ozeki was looking for it, and it only seems to motivate him. Tachiai – stand Abi up, wait for forward pressure, and let him fall. Flawless counter-Abi strategy here.

Takayasu defeats Myogiryu – I though that everyone in sumo knew to never ever challenge Takayasu to an endurance battle. I swear the guy takes naps holding up 150 kg weights, and wakes up completely rested. So points to Myogiryu for putting the Ozeki in some odd postures and body contortions, but that was the extent of it. Myogiryu expertly kept Takayasu from getting his right hand into any kind of grip, but then Takayasu just waited him out. Myogiryu, of course, tires and Takayasu shows him the exit.

Kakuryu defeats Okinoumi – No reactive sumo today, it was a power tachiai from the Yokozuna, and no hope for the man from the island domain of Shimane-ken. Kakuryu remains with the yusho leaders.