September 2017, Day 15, Takarafuji v Kotoshogiku

Former Ozeki Kotoshogiku hasn’t had double-digit wins in over a year, but he puts it all together this tournament to finish an impressive 10-5. It was only January of last year (seems like ages, though) that he won the championship at 14-1, but two tournaments later he dropped out due to injury and has endured a precipitous decline since then. Nice to see him back in fighting shape. Takarafuji puts up some tough resistance, but ‘Giku keeps his feet under him until he finds an opening for the slick kotenage (arm lock throw). Takarafuji has a fine tournament as well, finishing at 9-6.

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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 13, Chiyonokuni v Kotoshogiku

Fierce battle between two motivated wrestlers, Kotoshogiku hoping to add to his win total and return to the top sanyaku ranks (komusubi and sekiwake), and Chiyonokuni still hunting his eighth victory. Chiyonokuni shows great mobility and energy, stopping Kotoshogiku with a violent tachiai before jumping sideways to try and get behind his opponent. He charges in with a stiff-arm to the face, getting a right-handed overarm grip in the process that helps him defend against Kotoshogiku’s final charge. Right at the edge, with his foot in the extra space of the toku-dawara, Chiyonokuni spins on a dime and drops Kotoshogiku with that right-side grip. Uwatenage (overarm throw) for the win.

September 2017, Day 12, Chiyotairyu v Kotoshogiku

Brutal tachiai by Kotoshogiku today. Pretty sure ‘Giku’s forehead smashing into his chin stunned poor Chiyotairyu, and his knees go out from under him. He’s a little wobbly getting up, but he looks ok after a few steps. Kotoshogiku earns his eighth win, and both men finish the day at 8-4.

September 2017, Day 11, Hokutofuji v Kotoshogiku

There’s the old ‘Giku we know and love! He finally gets the classic frog-hopping belly bump machine in gear and takes care of Hokutofuji in fine style. Along with ten other wrestlers at 7-4, Kotoshogiku needs a complete collapse by Goeido to have a shot at the title. But anything’s possible (if not likely).

September 2017, Day 10, Onosho v Kotoshogiku

Good tachiai from both wrestlers as they cancel each other out in the center of the ring. They grapple from equivalent positions (left arm under/right arm over), neither one with a belt grip, and even though Onosho has the lower position Kotoshogiku works him steadily towards the edge. When Onosho’s feet hit the straw bales, Kotoshogiku has two good options: belly bump for the win, or sudden reversal. He goes for the sudden reversal, stepping out of the way and letting Onosho’s momentum carry him forward. A right hand in the ribs makes sure Onosho hits the clay. Onosho finishes the day 7-3, and his hopes of title contention are getting slim. Kotoshogiku improves to 6-4, feeling good with most of his toughest opponents behind him.

September 2017, Day 9, Tochinoshin v Kotoshogiku

Kotoshogiku stops his losing streak against the struggling Tochinoshin, using a left-handed overarm throw to move Tochinoshin out of position before finishing him off with a standard ‘Giku belly-bump. Tochinoshin drops his eighth loss for the guaranteed make-koshi (losing record resulting in demotion), while Kotoshogiku improves to 5-4.