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 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 13, Yoshikaze v Harumafuji

Harumafuji gets the job done quickly, totally dominating Yoshikaze with strength and speed to carry him over the edge. With Goeido’s (10-3) loss today, the Yokozuna (9-4) can force at least a playoff for the championship by beating Goeido on the last day. The math for all the other possible outcomes is complicated, but there are still a host of wrestlers with a chance at the title.

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 10, Shodai v Yoshikaze

It’s feast or famine with Yoshikaze this tournament, and right now he’s feasting. After dropping the first four days in a row, he’s roared back with six consecutive wins. Notable today against Shodai is his excellent footwork, keeping his hips low and his weight centered over his feet. No chance for Shodai to pull him down or divert the pressure, and Shodai crashes out to his sixth loss.

September 2017, Day 9, Tamawashi v Yoshikaze

Curious to see how Yoshikaze would come out after yesterday’s bloodbath against Shohozan, but I shouldn’t be surprised that he didn’t slow down at all. He leads with his face and works his way inside Tamawashi’s outstretched arms, securing a double-underarm position that lets him get his center of gravity underneath his opponent’s. Tamawashi holds out for a few seconds teetering on the edge of the ring, but Yoshikaze is too determined. Yorikiri (force out) win for Yoshikaze to improve to 5-4, as he deposits more blood from his busted eye on Tamawashi’s chest.

September 2017, Day 8, Shohozan v Yoshikaze

Words do little to add to the spectacle of two giant men trying to smash the hell out of each other, so take a moment and absorb this one. Shohozan has been involved in few of these this tournament, earning a huge welt and black eye on Day 1, and doling out some punishment of his own against Yoshikaze today. Yoshikaze ends up victorious, but his face is a horror show with blood pouring out of his nose and spattering his chest, and what looks like a split eyebrow. Both wrestlers finish the day at 4-4.