Osaka Day 3 Highlights

After some humdrum sumo to start the basho, today featured some hard, brutal matches. Some rikishi continued their winning runs, and few that had not seen their first wins, took a white star with great suno. Fast, brutal and aggressive sumo was on tap today, and it was great to see the rikishi bring their better sumo to the dohyo today. What did we get to see? Big Dan unleashed the V-Twin, Asanoyama reverts to Oshi-zuno, Shohozan unleashed a murderous lunge at the tachiai, Kotoshogiku snuck in a back bend, and the wave-action tsuppari machine washed Endo into the zabuton zone. Oh, and Enho and Yutakayama conducted what I can only assume is some sort of fertility dance.

Highlight Matches

Daiamami defeats Meisei – Daiamami picks up his first win of Haru. He tried to get a left hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but Meisei did a masterful job of disrupting Daiamami first few attacks. The match was quite even until Meisei attempted to pull Diamami forward from his forearm. His hold on that arm failed and left him off balance and Daiamami pushed him out. Maybe Daiamami is getting used to the empty hall.

Kotonowaka defeats Shimanoumi – Kotonowaka started with a surprisingly lethargic tachiai, and immediately tried to land a right hand inside. Because this is Kotonowaka’s trademark opening gambit, Shimanoumi shut it down. Kotonowaka kept working for grip, and executed a solid sukuinage at the tawara to seal the win. Did anyone else catch Kotoshogiku doing a back bend in in the tunnel in the background of that video? Brought a smile to my face.

Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyomaru has a strong start to Haru, clearly the atmospherics don’t bother him one bit. He was fast and aggressive out of the tachiai, and once again stood his opponent up, and slapped him down. Chiyomaru improves to 3-0.

Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi still cant find his first win without his glasses. Nishikigi came off of the shikiri-sen hard and fast, got a grip, but was too far forward. Azumaryu read it perfectly and exploited Nishikigi’s mistake to send him to the clay.

Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – “Big Dan” Aoiyama improves to 3-0 in thunderous style. He blasted off the line and went straight into a V-Twin attack. When Aoiyama attacks with both arms thrusting, and he connects center-mass, there is little anyone or anything can do. I had to watch it twice, it was just so massive.

Ikioi defeats Kaisei – Wow, a strength battle that features Ikioi out powering Kaisei! That’s some serious chanko power, indeed. Both of them fought well, but Ikioi somehow managed to keep his stamina. Sadly Kaisei is still looking for his first win.

Chiyotairyu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyotairyu also starts 3-0, today he took a straight ahead tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, grabbed the back of Terutsuyoshi’s neck and chucked him forward like a bale of rice. Wow.

Ishiura defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan self-isolates into the 0-3 club as Ishiura picks up his 3rd straight win to start Haru. Tochiozan did manage to get some offense running, but Ishiura stayed mobile, and Mr Efficiency was unable to really do much other than chase him around for the first part of the match. Tochiozan eventually captured him and they went chest to chest. Bad mistake for Tochiozan, as Ishiura channels Enho and unleashed a brilliant shitatehineri. Suddenly one moment Tochiozan has Ishiura clamped down, the next he is on his back in the clay. Nice sumo Ishiura!

Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – A showcase example of Sadanoumi’s tremendous speed, he was inside and attacking Takanosho in a moment at the tachiai. Takanosho worked hard to stop Sadanoumi’s forward rush, and ended with a double inside grip. Realizing he had the advantage, Takanosho dropped his hips and attacked. Three strokes of the gaburi-yori and it was his third solid win, as Takanosho maintains his place in the 3-0 club.

Tochinoshin defeats Kiribayama – I am overjoyed that Tochinoshin found his sumo today, and picked up his first win of Haru. He was fast, hit hard at the tachiai, and his left hand found his outside grip. Was it “skycrane sumo”? No, but it was a solid win and he looked good doing it.

Shohozan defeats Takarafuji – Shohozan also joins the first win club for today. That murderous lunge at the tachiai was a wonder, and I think it surprised Takarafuji who took a moment to set up his defense. But that momentary disorientation may have been enough, as Takarafuji struggled to find a good grip, Shohozan broke free and got behind Takarafuji, pushing him out from behind.

Kagayaki defeats Tamawashi – Great clash of styles in this match. Tamawashi focused on Kagayaki’s head, working to disorient him and disrupt his balance. But Kagayaki’s stance was wide and stable, and he focused pressure center-mass and pushed ahead strongly. Really classic fundamentals based sumo from Kagayaki today, and he left Tamawashi with no route to rally.

Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Sadly Myogiryu joins the self-isolation group down at 0-3. This match was all about Ryuden’s superior reach, and his ability to wrap Myogiryu up, and shut down any chance he had to attack or defend.

Abi defeats Onosho – Abi picks up his first win of the basho, and he did it with his trademark Abi-zumo. His tachiai was a half step ahead, and he landed both hands against Onosho’s upper body. Onosho worked to respond, but Abi did not release the pressure. As is his custom, Onosho lost his balance and hit the clay.

Yutakayama defeats Enho – Lovely slow motion tachiai, I love when Yutakayama does this (its not his first time in a battle with Enho). This probably shut down plans A,B and G for Enho, and the two circled each other. Enho kept trying to grab an part of Yutakayama’s body, and Yutakayama kept thwarting every grasp. The match wears on, and it just keeps getting strange. Holding hands, dancing around – I am not sure I quite understand this pixie-sumo. Were they trying to summon an enchanted toadstool? Eventually Yutakayama closes in and shoves him to the clay. Huge effort from both.

Hokutofuji defeats Tokushoryu – Nice change-up tachiai from Hokutofuji today, he took Tokushoryu straight to his chest and went to work. Hokutofuji immediately had Tokushoryu on the run, and Tokushoryu attempted his trade mark thrust down at the bales, but could not get the timing worked out and was over the bales too early. Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu is still searching for his first win, and joins the quarantine group.

Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Surprisingly solid sumo from two habitual under-performers. Shodai’s tachiai seems to be improved, but Mitakeumi was really low, and his body position was excellent. Shodai was never able to lower his hips, and Mitakeumi controlled this match from the start. Shodai tried a pull, tried turning, nothing work as Mitakeumi keep him locked down, with his hips and shoulders square to Shodai’s center-mass. Mitakeumi improves to 3-0, and looked very good today.

Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Asanoyama takes another step closer to his double digit goal while Daieisho still can’t find his first win, and joins the quarantine group at 0-3. Daieisho opened strong and drove Asanoyama back, but Asanoyama rallied and dropped back to his original oshi-zumo form and attacked with power. Glad to see that the future Ozeki still has that toolkit close at hand when its needed.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – Oh so happy to see Takakeisho unleash the wave-action attack. Endo clearly was driving for a mawashi hold, as it seems to be the key to shutting down Takakeisho’s offense (at least for now). After an initial skirmish, Takakeisho set up the wave attacks. When he gets those running, nobody can keep their feet. Made my day….
Kimarite: tsukidashi
Takakeisho: 2-1
Endo: 1-2

Kakuryu defeats Okinoumi – I felt a sense of relief to see Kakuryu back in the groove. He came out fast and hard at the tachiai, and that left hand went straight to Okinoumi’s mawashi. Immediately, Okinoumi knew he was trapped, and Kakuryu dialed up the power. Great Yokozuna style today, and he improves to 2-1.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – I know that Hakuho as many well deserved defenders, but in all sincerity – what the hell was that? Takayasu is a shade of his former self, and The Boss really struggled with this match. Hakuho is sol versitle that he completely improvised this match from start to finish, but it still worked. Hakuho improves to 3-0, but that was a lot more frantic than what we are used to seeing from him.

Osaka Day 1 Highlights

Note on images – yes, I am using images from the Sumo Kyokai’s twitter feed. Apologies to any who may be offended, but given the starkly barren visuals from this basho, none of the imagery from our now vast collection really work.

Am I glad sumo is back? Certainly! But I find the empty arena unsettling. If there were to be a sumo tournament held in conjunction with a funeral, it seems this would be the format, and that casts an omnipresent pall over what is normally a jubilant event. I would guess the rikishi feel it, too. Most unsettling to me? The dohyo-iri. The rikishi step onto the dohyo with no cheers, not shouts of encouragement, just the clack of the hyoushi-gi ringing like shots through the empty hall, the echoes emphasizing the vacancy.

But the show must go on, and go on it did.

Highlight Matches

Kotonowaka defeats Daiamami – Daiamami got the better of the tachiai, landing a left hand outside grip, but either could not hold it, or changed his mind. Kotonowaka proceeded to take him apart, advancing with strength for the force-out. Kotonowaka picks up his first top division win.

Shimanoumi defeats Meisei – Very balanced attack / defense form from both rikishi, with Meisei getting a marginally inside position at the tachiai. But Shimanoumi came back strong and stopped Meisei’s attack, and kept working to get advantage, and took the win.

Chiyomaru defeats Azumaryu – Chiyomaru continues his winning streak over Azumaryu, as Chiyomaru landed a nodowa at the tachiai, standing Azumaru up. From there Chiyomaru relentlessly focused on a center-mass thrusting attack for the win.

Tsurugisho defeats Nishikigi – Tsurugisho was high at the tachiai, but did manage to get morozashi on Nishikigi, who found Tsurugisho’s belly too round to set up his preferred double arm bar hold. Tsurugisho came to the dohyo with quite a good amount of tape today, including around his hips.

Aoiyama defeats Kaisei – The battle of the mega-fauna was over in a flash. Kaisei found himself turned to the side, and exited with one mighty shove from Aoiyama.

Ikioi defeats Kotoshogiku – Ikioi came to the dohyo slightly less hurt than Kotoshogiku. Ikioi’s tachiai was fast and sharp, and he took a left hand inside grip, which Kotoshogiku could not manage. Just really no power left in Kotoshogiku’s knees at all, and he abandoned an attempt to pivot at the bales for a “rescue” throw.

Ishiura defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi came in fast at the tachiai, and a bit too far foward. After receiving the initial contact, Ishiura got a hand behind Terutsuyoshi’s head, and stepped to his left, escorting Terutsuyoshi ahead and out for the win.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – After a matta, Tochiozan’s timing was clearly off, and Chiyotairyu stood him up at the tachiai and immediately slapped him down.

Sadanoumi defeats Tochinoshin – I saw a lot more power transmitted to ground through that knee than I expected, so maybe Tochinoshin is not quite as poorly as I had though. But Sadanoumi made sure to keep him from planting his feet for any kind of grip or any attempt at a lift.

Takanosho defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama delivered a strong tachiai, but Kiribayama got him turned to the side, then turned around and pushed him out for the win. A bit of ring rust there.

Tamawashi defeats Shohozan – We expected there would be a lot of brawling in this match, and we got it. Tamawashi timed his opening gambit perfectly, and shut down Shohozan’s attempt to sieze the initiative. But the tachiai drew blood on Shohozan, and this really underscores the danger of this tournament. Sure rikishi bleed in practice and competition all the time. But against the backdrop of an empty venue, we see just how much risk the competitors can face of contracting any virus from a match.

Kagayaki defeats Takarafuji – As expected, both men showed excellent form. I marvel at Takarafuji some times, today he sensed that Kagayaki was just a bit too far forward, and played it for all he could take. It was nearly enough to send Kagayaki out, but he recovered and took a double inside grip, which Takarafuji could not overcome.

Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu had a strong start, after Onosho’s matta. But while Myogiryu focused on disrupting Onosho’s balance, Onosho was driving hard against center-mass, and landed a vice-like left hand grip. Myogiryu circled away, but his foot placement was poor and found himself driving forward, but not centered. Onosho read this and was able to fire off a shitatenage before Myogiryu could drive him out of the ring.

Ryuden defeats Abi – Abi completely dominated this match, batting Ryuden around more or less at will. But Ryuden focused on keeping upright and absorbing whatever Abi delivered. He found an opening when he was about to get off-center from Abi’s line of attack. Now too far forward, Ryuden slapped him down for a solid recovery.

Mitakeumi defeats Enho – Enho attempted a side-step and dive tachiai, but Mitakeumi was ready, trapping Enho and shutting down any chance the smaller man had to use speed and agility to his advantage. Great tactics from Mitakeumi today, and really impressive body control.

Yutakayama defeats Hokutofuji – Surprisingly even match, and even more surprisingly to me, Yutakayama was able to overpower Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji tends to go for a big opening gambit, where Yutakayama kept it simple, and took control of the inside position, thrusting against Hokutofuji’s chest.

Shodai defeats Tokushoryu – Ok, that was really very solid sumo from Shodai. If that guy mounts the dohyo for the next 14 days, he’s a contender. He gave Tokushoryu zero chance for that side-step thrust down that won matches for him at Hatsu.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – As anticipated, a protracted yotsu battle that showed that Asanoyama still has plenty of room to grow as a rikishi. Yes, he was able to pull out the win, but he gave Okinoumi opening after opening to blunt Asanoyama’s offense.

Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu went high, Takakeisho went center mass, and actually put a couple of tsuppari waves against Takayasu’s chest. When Takakeisho can get the wave-train going, it’s really tough to keep your feet. Thankfully, Takayasu looks a lot closer to healthy than he did in January. I saw power out of that left arm, but Takakeisho did a great job of making sure he could never get connect with his left.

Kakuryu defeats Daieisho – Great reactive sumo from Kakuryu, dare we hope he’s healthy this time? I mean it almost seems that Daieisho knows that Big K is going to find a weakness and take him apart. Look at that tachiai from Kakuryu, very nice form.

Hakuho defeats Endo – Less than what most were hoping for Endo clearly lost his balance and his footing after the tachiai (assisted by a Hakuho blow to the head), and Hakuho covered him like a Marine jumping on a grenade. Did I see Hakuho favoring that left food following the match? Ugh, let’s hope not.

Natsu Day 3 Preview

It’s fair to say we have had a solid start to the Natsu basho in the first two days. The lone surviving Yokozuna, Kakuryu, has won both of his opening matches convincingly in a manner that is an aggressive adjustment to his normally reactive style. He has shown power, guile and no shortage of excellent sumo in the first two wins, with his dispatching of Hokutofuji quite impressive. Hokutofuji blasted his way into another attempt at a handshake tachiai, but Kakuryu was faster still, and just denshamichi’d Hokutofuji half way back to the shitaku-beya.

Both Goeido and Takakeisho have opened strong as well, each day delivering a powerful reminder of why they hold the Ozeki rank. The upper ranks will get their “tough” matches in week 2, whereas this week they are culling the upper Maegashira.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Daishoho vs Takagenji – Takagenji brings his 2-0 Juryo record to the top division, looking to remain in the undefeated cohort. He and Daishoho are quite evenly matched, having battled each other in the lower divisions multiple times. Though Takagenji has added mass over the past 2 years, I think he would still qualify as a member of the “Pixies” group of smaller rikishi. (Hmm, not at 191 cm and 172 kg. -lksumo)

Enho vs Sadanoumi – First time match between these two, with Enho fresh to the top division, and Sadanoumi a long time dweller in upper Juryo and Makuuchi. Sadanoumi is happy to engage in a mawashi battle, but letting Enho get a grip has proven to be a surprisingly challenging event. The edge probably goes to Sadanoumi, as Enho seems a bit jittery still.

Shohozan vs Shimanoumi – When Shimanoumi posted to Maegashira 12 for his Makuuchi debut, I had my worries. Rather than easing him into the top division, he was landing in the middle of banzuke chaos, given the bizarre collection of bad to awful records that came out of Osaka. Now he is 0-2 going into his match against an 2-0 Shohozan, who does look to be in fairly good form.

Onosho vs Tomokaze – Dare I hope that Onosho has gotten his sumo back in tune? So far he has not gotten overly forward over his toes, and has kept his force center-mass against his opponent. Tomokaze is big, strong and will take your mawashi and make you suffer. It will be a race to see who can set the tone of the match out of the tachiai. This is my favorite bout for the first half of Makuuchi on day 3.

Asanoyama vs Meisei – Asanoyama has really been showing some speed and strength in the first 2 days of the basho. Readers know I have had my eye on him since he showed up in the top division, mostly because his attitude is one of the best I have seen. He works hard, he keeps himself positive and always takes each day as a chance to win. While his brother from another mother Yutakayama is regenerating himself in Juryo, we can enjoy all this great young rikishi has to offer.

Shodai vs Kaisei – It seems Shodai has gotten re-charged during some off-season visit to Toon Town, and his uncanny cartoon sumo is running well again. Today he has Kaisei who seems more frustrated and rusty than doing poorly. Fans around the world love Kaisei, as he is one of the most good-natured folks in sumo.

Yoshikaze vs Ryuden – Yoshikaze has been executing very minimalistic sumo for the first 2 days. The win on day 2 over Meisei was surprisingly un-energetic, but got the job done. This probably won’t work with Ryuden / Shin-Ikioi, who seems to be continuing his good performance from Osaka, where he was one of the few Maegashira who was able to post double-digit wins.

Chiyotairyu vs Abi – Chiyotairyu is off to an 0-2 start, and I think he will continue to struggle day 3. His tachiai is just as formidable as ever, but he seems to have challenges with his second step. When Chiyotairyu is in a winning grove, he flows smoothy out of his brutal tachiai into an all out assault. Both day 1 and 2 he seemed to lack that intensity.

Okinoumi vs Tochinoshin – Some fans were a bit unhappy that Tochinoshin unleashed the sky crane against Daieisho, but I am going to assume that he finally feels healthy, strong and it’s more of a jubilant celebration that he is back to his sumo more than anything else. I am going to watch him land that shallow left again day 3, and help Okinoumi keep reaching for the stars. (Their head-to-head matchup only favors the Sekiwake 7-5, with Okinoumi taking 3 of the last four, so this is another must-win bout in Tochinoshin’s quest for 10. -lksumo)

Ichinojo vs Tamawashi – Hey, Tamawashi – get it together man! You have an 0-2 start, and you are a better rikishi than that. Hell, you won a yusho a few months ago. The good news is that Ichinojo is not quite dialed in right now, so he might be able to get some attack in against the Boulder. (The head-to-head is even at 6-6, but has favored Tamawashi recently, so we could be in for a good bout. -lksumo)

Mitakeumi vs Takayasu – Both of these burly men are fighting hurt. Takayasu with a bad back and Mitakeumi with a gimpy knee. Both of them see to be a half step slow, so this will be match of attrition: whose pain will lose first? Takayasu holds a clear (12-5) career advantage.


Takakeisho vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s bag’o sumo has worked pretty well on the upper Maegashira, but for the named ranks it seems to be quite ineffective. I love that this is happening, as I see quite a bit of potential in Hokutofuji, but he needs to get a winning formula together against these rikishi, and that comes by continued beatings at the hands of the upper echelon.

Kotoshogiku vs Kakuryu – Are we going to see hypersonic doom Kakuryu again on day 3? Kotoshogiku’s sumo relies on him grappling his opponent and hopping like an aroused Mastiff to propel himself to victory. Should Kakuryu once again launch of the shikiri-sen, we might be left with only blurry, smeared images of a blue mawashi and bouncing thighs launched in a high, arcing track towards a throng of excited fans. Each of them hoping that the Kyushu Bulldozer lands nearby. (This is the 50th meeting between the pair! -lksumo)

Natsu Day 1 Highlights

Did you cheer when you saw this? Skycrane ahoy!

I found myself headed for bed at a surprisingly early hour for the first day of a basho. With AbemaTV now lost to me, and no real way to watch the lower divisions, I decided it was better to just pack it in, and enjoy the DVR’d NHK-G two hour top division program in the morning. While I wish I had seen the lower division matches, Makuuchi featured some absolute gems. With Hakuho out, the stage is set for some surprising story lines, and the possibility of a new champion for the new era.

A note to regular readers, highlight posts may come later this basho, due to changes in how we source our information. If we are late, never fear, Team Tachiai is just forwarding through video…

Day 1 Highlights

Toyonoshima defeats Chiyoshoma – No henka from Chiyoshoma today, who chose to meet Toyonoshima head on and fight. Chiyoshoma got a decent right hand outside grip, and tried to use it for an Uwatenage. Although this failed, it left Toyonoshima out of position and off balance. Chiyoshoma lunged to push his opponent out, but Toyonoshima managed to step aside and send him into the front row.

Daishoho defeats Ishiura – Ishiura also forgoes elusive sumo, meets Daishoho head to head, and applies some effort to the match. Ishiura does well by staying mobile, and works to stalemate Daishoho. Ok, good, but that’s not winning. Ishiura’s gambit to get inside and drive forward results in Daishoho applying an arm bar and winning the match by kimedashi.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – I suspect we may be glad that Terutsuyoshi managed to stay in the top division, in spite of a horrible score at the end of Osaka. Kotoeko took control at the tachiai, and was driving Terutsuyoshi around the dohyo like he was the boss. But Terutsuyoshi loaded and executed a tsukiotoshi while in reverse gear, taking the match. Great sumo!

Enho defeats Tokushoryu – Enho takes his first match as a Maegashira in solid Enho fashion. Tokushoryu had the size and reach advantage, but Enho took him for a ride on the tiny-town express. While Tokushoryu was working to lock on to Enho’s shoulders, Enho was on the mawashi, turning the larger rikishi and escorting him to the tawara. Enho gives his 2 kensho envelops to his mother for a Mother’s Day gift. She is even smaller than he is!

Chiyomaru defeats Sadanoumi – Blink and you might miss it. Chiyomaru is getting better milage with Akua’s green mawashi than Akua ever did. A very simple stand him up, slap him down win for the man in green.

Yago defeats Shimanoumi – Yago won the match, but to my eye Shimanoumi had better sumo today. Yago repeatedly worked to pull or slap Shimanoumi down (and eventually succeeded), but the shin-Maegashira was focusing center-mass and moving forward with power. After taking two consecutive Juryo yusho, Shimanoumi has the skill to succeed in the top division. Let’s hope he can settle into a working rhythm.

Shohozan defeats Tochiozan – It looked like Tochiozan’s battle plan was to stalemate Shohozan and look for an opening. He executed that with his expected top-level skill, until Shohozan lost his patience and drove in for an atypical combat-hug. Tochiozan moved to win in the blink of an eye, but could not finish the rotation to execute his throw.

Onosho defeats Kagayaki – My candidate for “ring rust match of the day”. Mr Fundamentals, Kagayaki, gets taken to the wood shed by a rather genki Onosho. Hard core sumo fans, you know, the ones who pine for AbemaTV access, are hoping that Onosho can get his body back to good form, and we can see some Takakeisho – Onosho Ozeki rivalry in the future. Onosho had the full happy meal today: Hips low, thrusting strongly against center mass, and strong forward movement.

Tomokaze defeats Nishikigi – Special mention in the “ring rust” category goes to Nishikigi, who seemed to change his mind about opening attack midway through the tachiai. Tomokaze works him hand to hand like he is pulling an enormous ball of taffy, and Nishikigi really can only struggle to stay on his feet.

Asanoyama defeats Kaisei – Closing our trifecta of ring rust, Kaisei did not fail to deliver on his expected oxidation. I really liked Asanoyama’s drive after the tachiai, and that shallow left hand grip was solid. Kaisei struggled to get a throw going at the bales, but Asanoyama just used the Brazilian’s balance shift to deliver a yorikiri.

Shodai defeats Meisei – Those of you wondering why so many fans think Shodai has a lot of potential, watch this match. He is sky-high at the tachiai. He’s practically trying to lose here. But following that, look at his agility, his ring sense, and the fact that even in defensive action, he maintains an element of offense. Could we please get Araiso Oyakata to teach this guy how to come off the line?

Takarafuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yeah, Yoshikaze knows he’s beat about 5 seconds into it, and decides not to risk injury with a tawara defense. For fans of one of the most intense rikishi in many years, this match is tough to watch.

Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Shin-Ikioi (Ryuden) continues to shine. Today’s match showed really outstanding patience, and top level balance as Myogiryu changed offensive plans at least twice. Ryuden waited them out, and took his opportunity to get Myogiryu turned around and propelled him out.

Abi defeats Okinoumi – The double arm attack was shut off fairly early, but Abi was able to convert it to a powerful two hand nodowa, which he withdrew suddenly to perform a pull-down. Points to Okinoumi for shutting down the typical Abi-zumo offense (and to Abi for having a plan B –PinkMawashi).

Aoiyama defeats Tamawashi – This anticipated slug-fest did not fail to deliver. Tamawashi took command at the tachiai, and backed Aoiyama to the east. A massive shove from Tamawashi, intended to send Aoiyama out, only stood the Mongolian up as he slid back. Aoiyama cocked that meaty right arm and delivered a blow that made the crowd gasp, then took control.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu could not muster enough force at the tachiai to effectively disrupt Tochinoshin, who waded into the slap fest with gusto. In spite of Chiyotairyu focusing well on keeping Tochinoshin away from his mawashi, the Georgian found his mark. You can hear the crowd rally as both hands find their grip. We all know what’s coming. Hell, Tochinoshin has been waiting to do this for a couple of months. You can hear the motors roar as he lifts Chiyotairyu, who obliges by pedaling his legs in free air like some cartoon character, suddenly finding himself over a cliff. Let’s admit it, we all want to see him get his 10 and take back his Ozeki rank.

Daieisho defeats Ichinojo – Runner up in the ring rust prize is Ichinojo, who clearly struggled to execute his planned attack strategy. Multiple times he tried to pull down Daieisho, who evaded well. This left Ichinojo high, off balance and fairly easy pickings. A solid win for Daieisho.

Takakeisho defeats Endo – The thing that is really striking is that Takakeisho has gotten better at initiating the wave-action attack earlier and earlier in the match. Endo has no time to even begin any offense. Endo foolishly tried to match the shove, aiming for Takakeisho’s head and neck. This gave the shin-Ozeki a open lane straight to Endo’s center-mass, and it was over. 41 kensho banners. Wow.

Kotoshogiku defeats Takayasu – I can’t recall how long its been since I have seen Kotoshogiku at this level of intensity. For recent fans, this was what Ozeki Kotoshogiku looked like at his peak. Granted, Takayasu is nursing a bad back right now, but that was awesome.

Goeido defeats Hokutofuji – I love this match because it shows Goeido’s speed. Hokutofuji likes to set up a nodowa at the tachiai, and take control before his opponent can do anything other than react. But Goeido is so fast and so low, you can see the surprise in Hokutofuji’s reaction. I am so very happy that Goeido seems to be healthy and on his sumo.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi could not generate forward pressure against the Yokozuna, who executes a textbook oshi battle plan. This was interesting to me in that Kakuryu is usually going to start a match and react to his opponent. Today he took charge and dictated the win. This shift may have surprised Mitakeumi. It sort of surprised me!