Kyushu Day 14 Preview

As we enter the final weekend of the Kyushu Basho, there are some fans who will feel a genuine sense of relief. This tournament has seen a brutal number of rikishi exit competition due to injury, and long time favorites struggle. But looking past that, there are a number of interesting and promising developments. A few for thought

Small Rikishi Sumo – There was a time last year when the small guys were storming through Juryo, and looked to roll their way into the top division and disrupt everyone’s sumo. But as almost always the case, these rikishi had to work hard (and they did work hard) to pioneer adaptations to be competitive. Now we have 3 small rikishi that are fighting well, and winning matches, often with existing results.

Freshmen Rebound – The Freshmen, a cohort that I define as Asanoyama, Yutakayama, Hokutofuji and Kagayaki, are all doing quite well this basho, even if Hokutofuji is make-koshi. Two of them are recovering from tough injuries that pushed them back to Juryo, and two of them are in san’yaku. These guys are the stars of sumo, starting earlier this year, and we can expect their influence to grow as the old guard hang up their mawashi for the final time.

The Old Guard Rallies – This is mostly covered in Herouth’s reports, but if you wondered where beloved veterans like Ikioi, Kaisei, and Tochiozan went, they are in Juryo. They are all headed to double digit winning records, and it may put a lot of pressure on the make-koshi rikishi in the bottom half of Makuuchi. I think January could see a whole roster of beloved favorites make one more run into the top division.

I know some readers will find ways to take exception to this, but to me it’s a great time to be a sumo fan. The sumo world is changing, and we get to watch it happen.

Kyushu Leaderboard

A win today, and Hakuho takes the yusho. Team Tachiai expects this to be the outcome.

Leader: Hakuho
Chasers: None
Hunt Group: Asanoyama, Shodai

2 Matches Remain

What We Are Watching Day 13

Chiyoshoma vs Daishoho – Chiyoshoma visits from yusho, hunting for his 8th win and yet another make-koshi in the top Juryo ranks. Daishoho has little to offer in terms of sumo right now, and is almost painful to watch on the dohyo.

Shimanoumi vs Takanosho – Evenly matched 5-5 career record, but there is little on the line today as Shimanoumi is already make-koshi, and Takanosho already kachi-koshi. Lets hope they can bring some energy to the match anyhow.

Kotoshogiku vs Daishomaru – Can sumo fans get excited for a wounded, aging former Ozeki who is already make-koshi? You bet! Kotoshogiku is on a 3 match winning streak, and may have already saved himself from Juryo demotion. But heck, pour it on Kotoshogiku. I would love to see you finish 7-8 at this point.

Kagayaki vs Yutakayama – What a great match. Both are Freshmen cohort rikishi, both are 8-5, and they have a 3-3 career record. Both prefer to use oshi-zumo, but have shown a willingness to grapple chest to chest this November. I would like to see Yutakayama hit double digits this tournament, and end up at the lower edge of the joi-jin for January.

Ishiura vs Sadanoumi – Winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and my money is on Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi has been absolutely tough this basho, and has kept his energy and fighting spirit high for both full weeks. Given that the prize is the coveted 8th win, I do expect Ishiura to throw some high agility combo sumo into this match, but Sadanoumi’s superior defensive stance and foot work is likely to foil what could be a great display of Ishiura 3.0.

Tsurugisho vs Nishikigi – Another pair of make-koshi rikishi who look like they have nothing left to give. They have to fight someone, so why not fight each other? Sure.. why not.

Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Raise your hand if you want to see Chiyotairyu go chest to chest and gaburi-yori someone again today? I know I do! Kotoeko has a lot of mobility, so this may be a wild ride.

Terutsuyoshi vs Enho – A loss today and Enho is make-koshi. Now we don’t want any of that, do we? With Terutsuyoshi already holding win #8, we may see him turn down the intensity a notch and keep his body healthy for January. But even if Enho wins today, you know it’s Darwin time for him tomorrow.

Takarafuji vs Chiyomaru – Takarafuji holds an 8-0 career record over the bulbous one, and I see no reason for that to change today.

Myogiryu vs Shodai – Shodai did make it to double digits, much as Team Tachiai had expected. How much harder will he push it? If he runs the score up too much, he’s going to get another beat-down in January. But if Myogiryu gets the win today, it’s Darwin time for him, too!

Shohozan vs Meisei – With Shohozan kachi-koshi in front of his home town crowd, maybe it’s time for a celebratory slug-fest against the make-koshi Meisei

Daieisho vs Onosho – Winner of this one is kachi-koshi, and the loser is relegated to Darwin on day 15. Career record favors Onosho, and he seems to have fixed some of his week 1 problems.

Kotoyuki vs Okinoumi – Loser is make-koshi, and the winner gets a Darwin match. Sumo can be so brutal some times. Okinoumi leads the career series 9-5

Ryuden vs Asanoyama – Well, I expect Asanoyama to take care of Ryuden today, sending him to make-koshi land. But will Ryyden deploy another henka? If so, would Asanoyama fall for it? I want to see Asanoyama run up the score – we are running out of Ozeki, and this guy is young, healthy and has fantastic sumo. Hurry up, Yutakayama, we need you to slow this man down!

Hokutofuji vs Aoiyama – At the bottom of san’yaku, Hokutofuji’s make-koshi will in all probability send him back to the rank and file to sort out his sumo. But he can deliver a make-koshi today if he can keep Aoiyama from powering up the V-Twin attack.

Tamawashi vs Endo – Oh Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan, hear our pleas. Bless Endo that he might defeat Tamawashi on this day, and send both of these guys into brutal, soul crushing Darwin matches on day 15.

Takakeisho vs Abi – I am sure Takakeisho wants to hit double digits this time, with his first shot being day 14 against Abi. The big issue there is that Abi has 2x the reach of our stump-armed Grand Tadpole. I think it comes down to if Takakeisho can get inside and blast away before Abi-zumo can send him reeling.

Mitakeumi vs Hakuho – This is probably the match that delivers the make-koshi to Mitakeumi, and resets any hopes he may have had to reach Ozeki. There are some fans who think Hakuho is still nursing that arm injury from earlier in the year, and maybe, just maybe if Mitakeumi can attack from that side he might gain advantage. He has beaten him twice before, but right now it’s a long shot. A win today would clinch the yusho for Hakuho.

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 2 Preview

Day Two Brings A Reckoning….

Day 2 we get Asanoyama vs Hakuho. Fans are eager for this, and with good cause. The two have never fought in a tournament, and Hakuho roughed up Asanoyama a bit in a pre-basho practice session, after Asanoyama surprised the Yokozuna by dominating their first training match.

Elsewhere, we have a lot of ring-rust to scrape off of a few Makuuchi rikishi, and a few that need to tune up their sumo. I am hoping that day 2 has less slop, and hopefully less slip, than day 1.

What We Are Watching Day 2

Yago vs Kotoyuki – Yago had a surprising amount of trouble with Kaisei on day 1, and now he’s against Mr 5 x 5, Kotoyuki. We can all be fairly sure that Kotoyuki will end up somewhere in the first 2 rows of zabutons, but how he gets there is the open question. For those of you wondering, yes, many times when he wins, he also ends up in the crowd. It’s his calling.

Toyonoshima vs Terutsuyoshi – Former Sekiwake might think he has landed in Oz, facing two Pixies back to back. But unlike his history with Enho, Terutsuyoshi has never taken a match from Toyonoshima.

Kaisei vs Enho – An injured Enho vs over 400 pounds of hairy Brazilian. I know the fans love this sort of thing, but I just want Enho to emerge in one piece. Truth be told, big men like Kaisei are especially susceptible to Enho’s speed and maneuver based attacks. Kaisei is literally twice Enho’s size. -lksumo

Tochiozan vs Chiyomaru – I am sure that Tochiozan is very disappointed in his day 1 display or ring rust, but he can make up for it with a strong showing against the bulbous Chiyomaru on day 2. ‘Maru has only beaten him once: Hatsu 2018. Chiyomaru will probably go for a pull down, and as long as Tochiozan can keep his feet, he should prevail.

Sadanoumi vs Kagayaki – Sadanoumi also looked especially rusty day 1, while Kagayaki surprised me with his reactions, his confidence and his ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. After a lackluster Natsu performance, I am hoping that Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals is back in session.

Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – First ever match between these two, and I think we are going to see Kotoeko try to exploit the fact that Nishikigi’s eyesight is terrible. With Kotoeko’s maneuverability, I would guess we will see him try to stay way from Nishikigi’s front quarter.

Takagenji vs Daishoho – These two have a long running rivalry in the lower ranks, favoring Takagenji. Takagenji managed to secure a very plum rank for his first placement in the top division. Even if he should manage a mild losing record, his chances of being returned to Juryo are quite slim. But today we are going to see these two fight it out, and they typically go at it at close range.

Onosho vs Shohozan – The more times I re-watch Onosho’s day 1 match, the more sloppy it looks to me. Going against Shohozan, Onosho’s defensive footwork will be crucial to him staying competitive in this match.

Okinoumi vs Tomokaze – An odd fact that may be a bit unsettling to long-time sumo fans, but Tomokaze is now Oguruma’s top ranked rikishi. He is drawing Okinoumi early in the basho, while the older veteran rikishi still has some stamina, so this could be a fairly good match. This is their first ever bout.

Chiyotairyu vs Myogiryu – Myogiryu knows this match is all about him keeping his feet when Chiyotairyu’s canon ball tachiai comes roaring through. Myogiryu has won the last 2 of their bouts, so he should be able to absorb the blast if he’s on his sumo.

Shimanoumi vs Takarafuji – Day 1, Shimanoumi completely fell apart at the moment of tachiai. While the result was rather weak, Takarafuji’s technical sumo will require Shimanoumi to execute strongly and with confidence if he hopes to get his first win.

Meisei vs Kotoshogiku – Meisei showed a lot of ring rust day 1, but his lot is no easier day 2, where he faces the veteran Kotoshogiku, who is not yet worn down by daily matches. It will be Kotoshogiku going for the mawashi early, and engaging the hug-n-chug.

Ichinojo vs Daieisho – Ichinojo’s day 1 match was a clear cut disappointment. Is he back to being injured, or did he just go soft when he realized he did not have his body in position to attack? Daieisho will be going for center-mass at the tachiai, but Ichinojo presents quite a lot of mass to effect.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Leading the day 1 “Derp Sumo” roster would be Mitakeumi, who looked completely distracted in his first loss. Endo will once again have a plan, and it will be really good. Mitakeumi, if he’s in form, can power through most of Endo’s sumo. I am eager to see if Mitakeumi’s day 1 flop has motivated him to come out strong. The two have split their previous 8 bouts. -lksumo

Aoiyama vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi lost traction day 1 on his way to an opening loss. Some of the more energetic footwork may need to be moderated on the slick Nagoya dohyo. I think Aoiyama won’t suffer that problem much, as his sumo usually relies on being enormous, immobile and delivering brutal round-house blows. This pair has met 11 times dating back to 2011, with Aoiyama holding a narrow 6-5 edge, including a victory in May that broke a string of 4 defeats. -lksumo

Goeido vs Abi – As a Komusubi, Abi is going to have a rough first week. Some experts believe that the ancient Jomon people first dug latrines at the edge of their villages, and bestowed the title “Komusubi” on the men tasked to clean them out. In spite of his day 1 loss, Goeido looked fairly good.

Shodai vs Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin needs to keep Shodai immobilized. Once that guy starts moving around the dohyo, all manner of chaotic things tend to happen to his opponents. I am sure Shodai took a good look at the Ozeki’s day 1 loss, and will possibly try some variation of Endo’s insightful opening mae-mitsu gambit. Like Endo, Shodai has been a tough matchup for the Ozeki, winning half of their dozen previous bouts, including 4 of the last 5. -lksumo

Ryuden vs Takayasu – Long time fans of Takayasu, myself included, are waiting for a sign that his sumo is headed to the next level. It may never come, but if it does, I think it will take the form of him going 7-0 in the first week. Ryuden comes in with a 2-1 career advantage, and some of his best sumo to date. Fun fact: the first of their 3 career meetings took place exactly 10 years ago, at Nagoya 2009, in low Makushita. -lksumo

Kakuryu vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji specializes in making his opponents back up. Kakuryu specializes in making his opponents over-commit. What the hell is going to happen here? I think whatever it is, it will be quick. The Yokozuna needs to resist the temptation to pull if he does not want to open Nagoya 1-1. Hokutofuji does have one kinboshi to show for their 4 prior meetings. -lksumo

Asanoyama vs Hakuho – Asanoyama showed day 1 that he is not intimidated to have a big match. But now it’s time to see if Hakuho did more to his head than just give Asanoyama a concussion. The real risk here is injury to Hakuho, as his ego is likely to demand that he not just beat Asanoyama, but possibly toss in some light humiliation. While such sumo accessories may have been easy to execute in his younger days, Hakuho may not appreciate Asanoyama’s stability and strength, as this is their first actual honbasho match.

Natsu Day 15 Highlights

Enho Gives Everything In His Day 15 Match With Shohozan
Image courtesy of friend of Tachiai, NicolaAnn08 on Twitter

Described by one friend as “Anti-climatic”, day 15 in general was a study in how many rikishi were hurt and fighting poorly vs a small core who managed to stay healthy. The schedulers threw in a good number of “Darwin Matches” where both rikishi were 7-7, and one walked away with winning record, the other with a losing record and demotion. The atmosphere in the Kokugikan was off, as vending machines were taken off line, there were hour long lines to be screened to enter, and there were protective guards everywhere. But some solid sumo did take place, and the final day of the Natsu Basho went off without a hitch.

As expected, US President Trump did appear with Prime Minster Abe, and both handed trophies to Asanoyama who looked happy, overwhelmed and just a little bit uncertain. President Trump was courteous, and at times appeared very happy (handing over the Presidents Cup) and bored (during some of the matches). If the President or any of his staff find themselves taken with the notion of sumo, I strongly recommend reading Tachiai, watching Jason and Kintamayama, and listening to Grand Sumo Breakdown during the next 2 months to be primed for what should be an epic battle in Nagoya.

We are all eagerly awaiting lksumo’s crystal ball post due up later today, but I can say that this basho was a death march for far too many rikishi. A few big names were missing, and the ones who hung in there were fighting well below their normal capabilities. I think this basho greatly underscored just how tough it is to keep a group of 40 or so rikishi healthy, fighting and fit.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Ikioi – Chiyoshoma delivers a slap and a pull to drop Ikioi to 4-11. Is this the end of Ikioi as we know him? Clearly he is still too hurt to fight effectively. Its tough to see long time favorites go out banged up and down.

Shohozan defeats Enho – The first of the Darwin matches, Shohozan threw in all of his unsavory behavior including multiple matta (one with a full charge and slap) before the match could get underway for real. When the match did finally start, it was a wild brawl with Enho dodging and weaving at his best, but Shohozan was clearly in charge. The two went chest to chest, and Enho struggled to get leverage over the larger Shohozan, but “Big Guns” remained upright and stable, while Enho became increasingly tired. Eventually Enho’s attacks left him too low, and Shohozan helped him to take a face full of Natsu clay. Huge effort by Enho, and typical crummy attitude from Shohozan, but he did pick up his 8th win.

Onosho defeats Chiyomaru – Second Darwin match, Onosho’s propensity to put too much pressure in front of his ankles was no worry with Chiyomaru’s mass to push against, and Chiyomaru found himself without any room to work, or any chance to move to the side.

Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Both men end the basho 5-10, with Ishiura likely headed to Juryo. Ishiura lost the last 5 consecutive matches, and is in dire need to regroup. The entire Pixie contingent looks to have faded through week 2, as Enho also lost his last 6 consecutive matches, after a strong start.

Tomokaze defeats Sadanoumi – Another Darwin match, Tomokaze lets Sadanoumi come to him, then employs superior strength and stability to overpower, lift and eject Sadanoumi. Tomokaze has yet to endure his first make-koshi of his professional career.

Meisei defeats Daishoho – Meisei has over-performed this basho, finishing with a 10-5 record, and a solid win over Daishoho. Meisei took a mae-mitsu grip early, and never gave an inch.

Shodai defeats Kotoeko – Shodai finishes with double digit wins, after finishing Osaka with double digit losses. I think his sumo looked better, and his opponents were in worse condition this tournament. I insist if this guy could improve his tachiai, he would be a force of sumo.

Tokushoryu defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze puts forth an effort to win on the final day, but the amount of force he can put into any move seems to be just a fraction of his normal. This comes after double digit wins in Osaka. His performance is either on or off the past 18 months, and I have to wonder if he’s starting to eye that kabu now.

Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Two time Juryo yusho winner Shimanoumi came roaring back from a middling start to win his last 6 in a row, and end with at 10-5 record. That was a lot of Makuuchi jitters and ring rust to scrape off, but once he settled in he produced some solid sumo. He may find himself in a tougher crowd in Nagoya.

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Two false starts by Abi left him a bit slow at the tachiai, but he still landed his double arm shoulder attack, and used Tamawashi’s lateral move to send him arcing into the clay. Both men end Natsu 10-5, and Abi receives the Kanto-sho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – This bout was a mess, it featured a solid forward start from Chiyotairyu, followed by a lateral collapse that saw the big Kokenoe man hit the clay, but win because Tochiozan had already stopped out.

Daieisho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Both rikishi end Natsu make-koshi, with Terutsuyoshi following a cold start to the basho with a week 2 fade. There are a good number of rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke with really terrible records, and it may be another log-jam in the demotion queue that sees some incredible banzuke luck bestowed on the least terrible of the lot. Will that include Terutsuyoshi?

Endo defeats Yago – Endo catches Yago’s tachiai, lets him begin to push and then drops him to the clay. Simple, easy, effective.

Kotoshogiku defeats Okinoumi – A fairly traditional Kotoshogiku hug-n-chug win, but his hip pumping was less focused than normal, and it took quite a bit of time and effort to finish Okinoumi. Both men end the basho with losing records.

Hokutofuji defeats Nishikigi – Hokutofuji’s “Handshake Tachiai” pays off as Nishikigi puts all of his hopes into grabbing a piece of Hokutofuji’s mawashi, and comes up with air. Left without anything to hold on to, Nishikigi is quickly propelled out for an oshidashi loss.

Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Many fans will declare this a bellwether match, as it shows that Asanoyama did not have the mettle to be the Natsu champion. They may have a point, but that’s not how honbasho works. Mitakeumi is able to enact his preferred sumo strategy, and try as he might, Asanoyama cannot get into the grip and foot placement we have seen him use to rack up 12 wins prior to today. Does this foreshadow Asanoyama’s upcoming opponents in Nagoya? Probably, yes.

Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Ryuden finishes with double digits, and I have to say his sumo was dead on this tournament. Aoiyama was only a fraction of his normal strength by this stage of the tournament, and Ryuden masterfully absorbed everything Aoiyama delivered in terms of tsuppari.

Ichinojo defeats Myogiryu – When Ichinojo is “on” he turns his opponents into rag-dolls and tosses them around at his leisure. This happened today with Myogiryu, who looked like an play-thing in a giant’s toy box.

Takayasu defeats Tochinoshin – Both of these rikishi are fighting hurt, and are only at a fraction of their expected power and speed. Takayasu takes a big chance going chest to chest against Tochinoshin, but rather than set up the sky crane, Tochinoshin oddly decides to try and pull Takayasu, which was all the Ozeki needed to rush forward and take Tochinoshin to the clay. Yeah, Tochinoshin is clearly hurt, and that was crap sumo compared to his first week performance.

Kakuryu defeats Goeido – They made a good match of it, no shady moves, no cheap sumo here, the top two surviving rikishi finished the day with a solid yotsu match that saw the Yokozuna take his 11th win.

That’s it for our daily highlight coverage. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing the Natsu Basho with us!