January 2018, Day 15, Kakuryu v Goeido

Ozeki Goeido charges into Yokozuna Kakuryu’s clutches, trading momentum off the tachiai for a left-handed overarm belt grip. It’s a bad trade. Kakuryu plants his feet and rolls Goeido with the overarm throw, both men tumbling off the dohyo in the final bout of the January tournament. Kakuryu gets up pulling on his right fingers (sprain? dislocation?) and treating his right arm/wrist fairly tenderly, so here’s hoping it’s an injury he can recover from before March. His domination for the first ten days of the tournament was a delight to watch, and sumo benefits from a strong Yokozuna (not-subtle-throat-clearing-hints directed at Kisenosato and Hakuho). Goeido finishes with a very Goeido-like 8-7. Kakuryu is probably disappointed with the 11-4 record that put him out of the running for the championship days ago, but it’s his best record since a 14-1 yusho in November of 2016.  Alright, that was fun, see you in March!

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January 2018, Day 15, Mitakeumi v Takayasu

If you want to be an Ozeki, you got to beat the Ozeki. I mean, that rule’s not written down anywhere, but to put together 33 wins over three consecutive tournaments from the sanyaku ranks (komusubi or sekiwake), which is what’s required for Ozeki promotion, you’re probably going to have to beat some Ozeki. Anyway, Sekiwake Mitakeumi’s not quite ready for that run yet, showing good effort against Ozeki Takayasu until the point when Takayasu gets a right-handed overarm grip and tumbles him to the ground with the uwatenage (overarm throw). Mitakeumi finishes the tournament at 8-7, while Takayasu gets the runner-up spot behind Tochinoshin with an excellent 12-3 record.

January 2018, Day 8, Sokokurai v Ishiura

Ishiura’s stays busy, trying an arm bar throw (tottari) that goes nowhere, and fending off Sokokurai’s arms before diving in for a left-handed inside grip. Sokokurai ends up on top, with Ishiura’s head tucked down into his chest. Not much Ishiura can do but charge forward and hope for the best, but Sokokurai leans over for a deep overarm belt grip that he uses to pull Ishiura onto his knees in the dirt.

January 2018, Day 4, Abi v Ryuden

Until now Abi’s been a straightforward pusher-thruster, but today he shows us some depth to his game. Really slick footwork along the straw bales to survive, and a masterful reversal at the edge of the ring to sling around behind Ryuden and drop him with the uwatenage (overarm throw).

January 2018, Day 3, Chiyoshoma v Endo

Chiyoshoma also pays homage to the recently-retired Harumafuji with a slick move at the tachiai against Endo. That’s not a disparaging comment, either – there are those who deem this kind of quick sideways maneuver on the way to a deep belt grip a form of henka, but I don’t see it that way. You have to be fast and strong to pull this off, and Chiyoshoma makes Endo look like an amateur, rolling him on the dirt like a shrimp through panko. (Too much?)

January 2018, Day 2, Kotoshogiku v Takayasu

Now THAT’S an uwatenage. After a long stalemate in the center of the ring, Ozeki Takayasu drops former-Ozeki Kotoshogiku with a mighty throw. Kotoshogiku works his left hand inside probably looking to set up some of his gaburi-yori magic, where he gets his hips low and frog-hops his opponent out, but Takayasu is having none of it. With a double-overarm belt grip, Takayasu marches Kotoshogiku to the edge before using his big right arm to dump Kotoshogiku on his back like a turtle. Beautiful.

January 2018, Day 2, Goeido v Onosho

I mean, I guess you could call this an uwatenage (overarm throw), but it’s more like an I’m-gonna-back-up-and-let-you-fall-down-and-my-hand-just-happens-to-be-resting-on-your-belt throw. Either way, Goeido will take the win, his second in as many days and third in a row over Onosho.