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  • Fantasy Basho

Nagoya 2023 Day Three

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Scores from Fantasizr.

Notable Maneuvers

Okuridashi. To win by "rear force out," a rikishi must be in his opponent's rear. Ura made two incredible slidesteps to get around Onosho. The first got him out of serious trouble, and the second won him the match by giving him a lock on Onosho's mawashi's back knot.

Match of the Day

01 Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus 10 Maegashira #1 West Tobizaru

At the very start, Tobizaru broke up Terunofuji's grip attempt. From there, this became an intense and rather strange match. The two features were that Tobizaru kept it moving, while Terunofuji had a tight but awkward grip that pulled Tobizaru's mawashi up to his armpits. Repeatedly, the match went between looking like both would roll over each other in a heap or one man would have the decisive move. Instead, it kept going, and the longer it kept going the more trouble Terunofuji was in. Eventually, Tobizaru got the advantage by kicking Terunofuji's right leg out and going for leg sweeps. That led to a yorikiri, rather than a throw or trip, but Terunofuji was wobbling at the end.


By all rights, Terunofuji should not lose to Nishikigi or Tobizaru. He especially should not lose to them back to back on Day Two and Day Three. This is not a slight on either rikishi who has earned a kinboshi. They are Maegashira #1 right now for a reason. Yokozuna just shouldn't be losing to Maegashira #1, and they definitely should not be losing to both in consecutive matches. Terunofuji is clearly struggling right now, and as a Yokozuna he could withdraw from the tournament to come back in September as a Yokozuna with no issues.

There are some real long term issues. Terunofuji's heavily bandaged knees have been alarming for three years, since he returned to Makuuchi after his long injury absence. He has been so powerful and so good that he doesn't seem like he's working at a deficit most of the time. Terunofuji has actually looked pretty bad, with a real issue of getting a strong stance the last two days. Nishikigi threw him too easily, and Tobizaru was able to dance around even when the Yokozuna had a lock on his (admittedly loose) mawashi. Terunofuji should officially be on kyujo watch moving forward.

And so it appears to be Daieisho's basho as soon as Day Three. Heaven help whoever is standing across from him. On Day Three, Midorifuji got knocked straight back, and twelve more men have to be in that same position before the tournament is done. Coupled with losses by Wakamotoharu and Hoshoryu, he is the new favorite for the yusho and an Ozeki promotion. Daieisho needs eleven wins to hold the big fish, but probably more for an Emperor's Cup. Daieisho is the only undefeated Sanyaku wrestler remaining.

On the bottom of the Banzuke, Gonoyama is now the only debutant who remains undefeated. Hakuoho and Shonannoumi took their first losses as Maegashira. The fall of the Ozeki hopefuls as well as the new boys shows that assuming anyone will just keep winning is wrong. Nishikigi, Takayasu, Nishikigi, and Endo are the other 3-0 rikishi, and one of them is likely to lose each day. Zensho yusho are a rarity for a reason, and are also usually the preserve of Yokozuna for a reason. The main task is to win the next match, and that is actually easier said than done most of the time.

If Terunofuji does withdraw, then the Nagoya basho will be another Yokozuna- and Ozeki-less tournament. That creates two likelihoods. The first is that 12 wins may just be enough for a yusho. The other is that fewer Sanyaku wrestlers means that they will all face rikishi lower down the Banzuke. The men who are undefeated or holding 1 loss going into week two are more likely to square off. That is a ways off now, but the possibility is now alive for Nagoya to once again be an unusual one.

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