September 2017, Day 15, Okinoumi v Sadanoumi

Last day of the tournament, last day for Okinoumi to get his eighth win and avoid demotion down to the second-tier Juryo division. Good tachiai, gets the left-handed underhand grip against Sadanoumi pretty quickly, and starts reaching for the right. But Sadanoumi shifts his hips and clamps down with his right arm, breaking Okinoumi’s belt grip on that side and starting a push for the edge. Okinoumi takes a couple of steps back before he can finally grab that right-handed overarm grip, and now he can plant his left foot and go for the finish. Sadanoumi goes upside down, the victim of a nice uwatenage (overarm throw). Okinoumi breathes a big sigh of relief, safe at 8-7. Sadanoumi finishes 2-8-5, perhaps a poor enough record to see him drop from the Makuuchi division next tournament. Here’s hoping he heals up and returns to form.

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September 2017, Day 14, Mitakeumi v Harumafuji

Yokozuna Harumafuji stays one win behind tournament leader Goeido, now the only man who can prevent Goeido from winning his second championship. Harumafuji dispatches Mitakeumi with no-nonsense sumo, using his superior strength and two belt grips to walk out the younger wrestler with ease. Mitakeumi sits at 7-7, and will need to beat Yoshikaze tomorrow if he wants a winning record this tournament.

September 2017, Day 14, Takanoiwa v Goeido

It’s all in Goeido’s hands, if he wins out then he wins the title. And after losing the last two days in a row, you have to wonder where his head’s at. It seems like he got it back together, surviving Takanoiwa’s repeated attempts to pull him down (which is how he lost yesterday and the day before). Excellent footwork, not leaning too far forward, rotating nicely to keep Takanoiwa in front of him, and finishing with one of my favorite techniques: watashikomi (thigh grabbing push down). Now at 11-3, Ozeki Goeido will clinch the championship if he beats Yokozuna Harumafuji tomorrow. A loss to Harumafuji will result in a one-match playoff for the title.

September 2017, Day 14, Arawashi v Yoshikaze

This one takes a while to get going, but doesn’t disappoint once the action begins. Several false starts interrupt the pace of the initial charge, so on the third try when they both get their hands down, it seems like neither Arawashi nor Yoshikaze are really ready. But the ref lets it go, and boy do they go. Both men pivot on one foot and crash out of the ring, each trying to pull the other to the ground an instant earlier than himself. The ref calls it for Arawashi, but the ring judges want to talk it over and decide that the wrestlers touched down simultaneously, so we get a re-do. This time the bout starts without a hitch, but Arawashi’s charge is much stronger and he knocks Yoshikaze back a step. Yoshikaze charges in without looking up and falls into a headlock, failing to move his feet forward when Arawashi pulls him down to the dirt. Arawashi finishes the day at 9-5, Yoshikaze at 8-6.

September 2017, Day 14, Daieisho v Kotoshogiku

Nice to see ol’ ‘Giku pick up his ninth win with a strong performance against Daieisho. Good mobility, keeping his feet moving and in front of his retreating opponent without getting overeager and falling down. Daieisho has already earned his kachi-koshi and finishes the day at 8-6.

September 2017, Day 14, Tochinoshin v Ishiura

A whirlwind of a bout! Tochinoshin survives Ishiura’s quasi-henka at the tachiai despite being on only one good leg, and the two lock up in the middle of the ring. Tochinoshin reaches over Ishiura’s back with his left arm for a belt grip, but his arm is on the left side of Ishiura’s head, giving Ishiura a low position on the side and access to a deep right-handed belt grip. Then the fun begins. The two pinwheel wildly across the ring, each trying to throw the other, and when they reach the edge Tochinoshin slings Ishiura past him and out. The winning technique is the exceedingly rare harimanage (backward belt throw), a move which is seen only .02% of the time across all wrestlers.

September 2017, Day 14, Onosho v Asanoyama

Asanoyama needs a win today to give himself a chance at a tournament playoff tomorrow, but Onosho proves too hefty a challenge. Straightforward, no-nonsense stuff from Onosho, and Asanoyama drops out of contention. Both finish today at 9-5.