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Aki 2023 Day Three



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Scores from Fantasizr.


Notable Maneuvers

Uwatenage. Nishikigi immediately and forcefully got an inside grip on Asanoyama's mawashi to prevent Asanoyama's left hand from doing anything. It also set him up perfectly to deliver an outside arm throw.


Match of the Day

02 Ozeki #1 East Kirishima versus 10 Maegashira #1 East Hokutofuji

Kirishima got the match he wanted at first, landing a grip on Hokutofuji. Then Hokutofuji broke the grip and launched into a slapfest. That actually got Kirishima sending Hokutofuji all around the dohyo and almost out. At the edge, Hokutofuji reengaged and got himself in another hold. Then the pusher-thruster Hokutofuji walked the grappler Kirishima out for a yorikiri win.


Recap

After just three days, all the Ozeki have at least one loss. Hoshoryu, the new Ozeki, has two. The Sekiwake and Komusubi are similarly imperfect. With the Yokozona out for the whole basho, that means that the entirety of the Sanyaku are already out of the undefeated category. No one is done for, but no one is shing either. Takakeisho hasn't looked his best, but solid. Hoshoryu seems to be feeling the effects of promotion. Kirishima got Hokutofuji's best on Day Three, after he similar damaged the other two Ozeki on the first two days.


Hokutofuji's jun-yusho in Nagoya seemed like a career highlight, as he is now over thirty and had been struggling for a few basho. Maybe he actually is having a resurgence. One difference between this version of Hokutofuji and the previous Sanyaku version is his grappling. He's still a pusher-thruster first, but he now isn't lost when it comes to the mawashi or looping an arm around his opponent's arms. He is a real yusho threat, especially because he already beat the on-paper three toughest opponents.


Really, though, this thing is wide open. The Ozeki may all be focused on eight wins, as Kirishima and Takakeisho need it to stay Ozeki and Hoshoryu would like to not immediately go kadoban. Daieisho and Wakamotoharu are not fighting like they have been as consistent sekiwake. That demonstrates more of the fine margins of sumo than anything about those men's skills. It does provide an opening for shin-Sekiwake Kotonowaka. He's at 2-1 and does get to face the other two Sekiwake and three Ozeki in his last week.


The 3-0 crowd is not full of anyone's pre-tournment yusho picks. Onosho, Mitakeumi, and Sadanoumi are veterans who are trying to regain their best form. While they've won, they don't necessarily look like they have their best form again. They've just found ways to win while not being their best. Kinbozan and Atamifuji are very, very large rikishi who are establishing their Maegashira bonafides. Projecting any of them to keep up this pace is foolish.


Each day, half the participants in Makuuchi matches will win and half will lose. This logic extends over the whole basho, which means someone will emerge. Hokutofuji faded in Nagoya, and the other undefeated rikishi don't seem like they'd stand up against Sanyaku contenders. Those Sanyaku contenders could also all find their form and win out over the final week. Lots of matches are left for everyone. But the three matches on the books matter, and Hokutofuji has taken a win against all three Ozeki. Whatever chaos unfolds, those wins can't be taken away.

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