November 2017, Day 6, Aminishiki v Asanoyama

Despite a great tachiai, Aminishiki drops his first bout of the tournament and falls out of his tie for the championship. Leading with a strong right hand to the chin, Aminishiki upends Asanoyama for a moment before Asanoyama recovers with a left-arm kotenage (armlock) that he transitions into the winning overarm belt grip. Asanoyama improves to 2-4.

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November 2017, Day 5, Daiamami v Aminishiki

Daiamami, age 24, is in his twelfth professional tournament, and his first in the top division. Aminishiki, age 39, is in his hundred-twenty-fifth professional tournament, and his ninety-fifth in the top division. Looks like experience goes a long way to mitigating a set of bad knees. Aminishiki tries to gain the upper hand with a leg pick attempt right after the tachiai, but his younger, heavier opponent recovers, pushing Aminishiki all the way to the edge of the ring. A right arm high underneath Daiamiami’s left armpit gives Aminishiki just enough leverage to keep from going out. At one point he actually has both feet in the toku-dawara notch in the far side of the circle, but his knees hold up thanks in no small part to yards of support tape. As Aminishiki circles to his right, he uses that right arm to sweep Daiamami into the empty space where his body used to be with a sukuinage (beltless arm throw). His cheeks pooching out with a big exhale, Aminishiki stays perfect at 5-0. The last time Aminishiki started a tournament with five consecutive wins was March of 2015, and before that it was September of 2007. Good job, Ami-chan.

November 2017, Day 4, Myogiryu v Aminishiki

Myogiryu does his best Superman impression, going totally horizontal and airborne trying to push out veteran Aminishiki. But Aminishiki is wily and has a mawashi full of Kryptonite, and Myogiryu crashes down to earth with a thud. Ami-chan sits pretty at 4-0.

 

November 2017, Day 2, Aminishiki v Kagayaki

Hatakikomi (slap down) is a technique usually employed as a last-gasp effort by a backpedaling wrestler to take advantage of an over-eager attack by the opponent. But Aminishiki uses it as offense, smashing face-first into Kagayaki at the tachiai, grabbing the back of his neck and yanking down with bad intent. A little flourish at the edge of the ring to make sure Kagayaki is down first, and Aminishiki cruises to his second win.

November 2017, Day 1, Kotoyuki v Aminishiki

Alright, let’s kick things off in Kyushu with a blast from the past. Veteran Aminishiki returns to the top division for the first time in over a year, and the 39-year-old will be aiming for his first top-division kachi-koshi since November of 2015. He starts off on the right foot against Kotoyuki, who is also back in Makuuchi after a single tournament down in the Juryo division. Aminishiki isn’t as mobile as he used to be, but he powers through Kotoyuki’s tachiai to grab a solid left-handed overarm grip, shifting his feet around to make a solid base for the uwatenage (overarm throw). Ami-chan is happy with any result that doesn’t put too much stress on his knees.

May 2016, Day 2, Tochinoshin v Aminishiki

Aminishiki is out for the rest of the tournament with a torn achilles tendon suffered in today’s bout against Tochinoshin. He said in an interview that he heard it pop, and it felt like someone had shoved him from behind. It looked to me (and several other commentators) like Tochinoshin stepped out before Ami-chan’s knee touched down, but the ref called it for Tochinoshin and the ring judges didn’t disagree. The winning “technique” is tsukihiza, or knee touch down, one of the five ways to win without using an actual technique.

March 2016, Day 8, Kotoyuki v Aminishiki

Kotoyuki is ready for Aminishiki’s first sidestep, and he turns to follow him with a strong shove towards the edge. He’s not as ready for Aminishiki’s second sidestep and almost falls victim to the trick, but the shove sends Aminishiki on a backwards trajectory and the two wrestlers balance on the tawara, waiting to see whom momentum will choose as the victor. Momentum chooses Kotoyuki, as Ami-chan’s foot touches down outside the ring first.