Nagoya 2022 Day Fourteen
Public League Leaderboard
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Maegashira #2 West Ichinojo
Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho
Hikiotoshi. Shodai toppled the Yokozuna with a hand pull down, and more impressively, he did it from the tachiai. The Ozeki took a step back to start, grabbed the Yokozuna's arm to prevent a grip, and yanked him over and out.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #1 East Kiribayama versus Maegashira #4 East Wakamotoharu
Kiribayama and Wakamotoharu actually delivered two excellent matches. Initially, they had a short lockup, which led to a simultaneous throw. Wakamotoharu got the gunbai, but a monoii took place and torinaoshi was called since the two men flipped over and landed at essentially the same time.
In bout two, they delivered a classic. Wakamotoharu started by not allowing a Kiribayama grip, then moved the Misty Horse Mountain back. Kiribayama fought back at the edge, and he did get his grip. That led to a tough lockup, where Kiribayama probably had the advantage although neither man was in control. Kiribayama took control and edged Wakamotoharu to the tawara. Wakamotoharu tried for an utchari, but Kiribayama avoided going sideways and used the throw to push out Wakamotoharu out and down first by a hair.
Ichinojo lost to Meisei, who pushed him back easily and sent him one loss back of Terunofuji. Then a few matches later, Wakatakakage beat Takakeisho in a way only he could. Takakeisho attempted a kotenage that probably would have worked against 90% of rikishi, but Wakatakakage fought and kept his feet to change the match. That seemed to have put Takakeisho out of the yusho race. Then Shodai did weird Shodai things, pulling the lone Yokozuna backwards from the tachiai for the win. The top three men all lost, keeping the leaderboard the same but in the most interesting way.
Perhaps the most emblematic moment of Day Fourteen was after Shodai's victory. A lone zabuton drifted towards the ring, an echo of the celebration of tossing seat cushions when a Maegashira beats a Yokozuna. Shodai is an Ozeki, although he's been fighting unevenly enough it feels like a huge upset. Fitting Shodai's oddness in the ring, the zabuton hit him in the head. Then, fitting Shodai's ability to maginificently recover, he caught it in his left hand without moving. The zabuton shouldn't have been thrown, it shouldn't have hit him in the head, and then he shouldn't have caught. Yet that all happened on Day Fourteen.
For the final day, Terunofuji and Takakeisho will clash in the musubi no ichiban with plenty on the line. This matchup, Yokozuna versus Ozeki with the Emperor's Cup at stake, is always intriguing. Given that both Terunofuji and Takakeisho were not stellar on Day Fourteen, the match takes a different shading. Terunofuji was caught out of sorts by Shodai, who is always surprising in some way. Takakeisho couldn't put away Wakatakakage, one of the toughest rikishi to actually toss over or take out. Incidentally, Shodai and Wakatakakage are facing each other just before the Terunofuji-Takakeisho clash.
The match that will show how much is on the line for Terunofuji and Takakeisho is the Ichinojo-Ura showdown five matches earlier. If Ichinojo wins, then Takakeisho can merely play spoiler. Terunofuji will need a win to force a one-on-one playoff with the Massive Mongolian. If Ichinojo loses, Takakeisho could create a situation for a three man playoff by toppling Terunofuji. That's certainly the most interesting situation for the final day, although it also involves both Terunofuji and Ichinojo losing yet another match.
The three leaders are not the only ones fighting for something on Day Fifteen. Hoshoryu has likely ensured a Sekiwake slot with 9 wins, but 10 would make a better argument. Abi likewise could make himself a Sekiwake by collecting his 9th win. Kiribayama is at 7-7 at Maegashira #1 East, making the September Sanyaku confusing if he wins. Four other rikishi, Ura, Tochinoshin, Chiyoshoma, and Yutakayama, are also sitting on 7-7, looking for a kachi-koshi. There is drama throughout the Torikumi on Day Fifteen, and then we are guaranteed a worthwhile final match. Bring it on.