September 2017, Day 15, Mitakeumi v Yoshikaze

Yoshikaze has his eight wins already, and Mitakeumi wants what he’s got. Some see the higher winning percentage of 7-7 wrestlers on the final day as evidence of match-fixing (or at least an unspoken code of generosity among wrestlers), but I think much of it can be explained simply by the extra motivation brought about by the desperation of a wrestler in that position. Either way, Mitakeumi barely squeaks by Yoshikaze today, relying on a last-ditch pull on the back of the head to drive Yoshikaze into the dirt at the edge of the ring. The match leading up to that is full of great sumo, with Yoshikaze looking sharper and stronger than Mitakeumi. But there can be only one winner, and Yoshikaze eats clay first.


September 2017, Day 13, Takakeisho v Goeido

OK, now it’s time to panic. Tournament leader Ozeki Goeido drops his second bout in a row (both by slap down), putting his second-ever championship in jeopardy. Now with only two days left, a loss to Takanoiwa tomorrow or Harumafuji on the final day could see him have to fight a playoff match for the trophy (or losing both days could put him out of contention entirely). Both Yokozuna Harumafuji and top-division newcomer M16 Asanoyama are only one loss behind Goeido at 9-4. The rest of the giant four-loss field lost today, so they’re out of it unless: Harumafuji and Goeido lose tomorrow, Harumafuji¬† beats Goeido on Day 15, and Asanoyama loses one of the next two days, which could result in a massive playoff among five-loss wrestlers the likes of which I’ve never seen. Here’s hoping!

September 2017, Day 13, Onosho v Shodai

Onosho seems to have this one under control – he’s got Shodai on the defensive and moving backwards with both arms around his midsection. But Shodai turns as he approaches the edge, trying for an arm lock throw on Onosho’s right arm. He doesn’t have the lock secured, and Onosho starts to slip out behind him, so Shodai lets go of the arm and spins away from the edge rather than pursue a quickly deteriorating position. It’s a good decision, and he’s able to skirt along the straw bales as Onosho plops to the clay.

September 2017, Day 12, Shohozan v Goeido

Nobody panic, nobody panic, NOBODY PANIC! With all the three-loss wrestlers losing today, Goeido maintains his two-win lead over the pack despite dropping his bout to the always-tough Shohozan. But the pack is enormous, with ten wrestlers at 8-4, including definite contenders Harumafuji, Yoshikaze, Kotoshogiku, and Onosho. If Goeido loses again in the next couple of days, it could make his final-day match-up with Yokozuna Harumafuji reeeeeeaally interesting. But until then, NOBODY PANIC!!

September 2017, Day 12, Takakeisho v Yoshikaze

Takakeisho sets up the same rhythm that helped him beat Yokozuna Harumafuji, but Yoshikaze turns the tables and yanks him down. Is that getting hoisted by your own petard? Yoshikaze is glad to have his eighth win under his mawashi, and Takakeisho still has a few days left to earn his makekoshi, finishing the day at 7-5.

September 2017, Day 11, Takanoiwa v Daishomaru

Set ’em up, knock ’em down. Takanoiwa handily dispatches Daishomaru to stay tied with the select group of three wrestlers who sit at 8-3, within striking distance of tournament leader Goeido.

September 2017, Day 10, Takakeisho v Harumafuji

Takakeisho earns his first kinboshi (“gold star” win over a Yokozuna), pulling off a veteran move against veteran Harumafuji. He holds his ground at the tachiai, trading slaps to the face before settling into a rhythm – slam together, separate and regroup. Four times they do this, both wrestlers trying for some kind of advantage but neither able to budge the other. On the fifth time, Takakeisho doesn’t meet Harumafuji head on. He steps slightly backwards and lets the Yokozuna stumble forward, adding a hard slap on the back to send Harumafuji into the dirt. Both men finish the day at 6-4, an excellent record for Takakeisho but a disappointment for the Yokozuna.