Natsu 2022 Day Fifteen
Public League Leaderboard
Yokozuna East Terunofuji
Komusubi West Daieisho
Maegashira #4 West Takanosho
Maegashira #12 West Sadanoumi
Uwatehineri. Kiribayama looked like he was going to be Hoshoryu's next throw victim, until he settled himself, twisted around, and got Hoshoryu in a grip saw the Komusubi's head in his stomach and facing down. That allowed him to unleash a corkscrew twisting overarm throw.
Match of the Day
Sekiwake East Wakatakakage versus Sekiwake West Abi
Abi had Wakatakakage dead to rights what seemed like a half dozen times. Not only did his two-hand thrust at the tachiai work well, but after Wakatakakage avoided going out, Abi reloaded to do it again. And then again. Even when Wakatakakage got a belt grip, Abi nearly positioned him over the edge. Nothing Abi could do would actually put last basho's champion away. Finally, Wakatakakage worked Abi over.
In the end, it was simple. Terunofuji got his favorite grip rather quickly on Mitakeumi, and was always in control of the match. Mitakeumi tried to shake him off, which meant Terunofuji needed to work a tiny bit. Once the Yokozuna developed momentum, the match was as good as done. Straightforward, powerful yorikiri for the match and the basho. Terunofuji reestablished himself as the dominant rikishi, earning his 6th Emperor's Cup in 12 basho since his return to Makuuchi in July 2020.
The ending could have been much more exciting. The lower divisions were rife with playoffs, Juryo, Jonidan, and Jonokuchi all needing extra sumo. Jonokuchi, the lowest level, needed a four-way playoff. During the Makuuchi bouts, a four-way playoff loomed as well. It became a live possibility with Sadanoumi's dramatic victory over Takanosho. Sadanoumi, who turned 35 during the basho, threw the younger man out and over at the tawara. That tied those two at 11-4. Daieisho would later join them by slapping down a game Shimanoumi.
The yusho decider then proved anticlimatic. Takanosho and Daieisho would have to settle for the Outstanding Performance Prize, while Sadanoumi received the Fighting Spirit Prize. Plenty of other matches were exciting, though, especially in those that would determine the Sanyaku slots for Nagoya. Kiribayama prevented Hoshoryu from having a solid Sekiwake claim. Wakatakakage survived everything Abi could do. Takakeisho repeatedly shoved on Shodai to avoid kadoban for July. No lower Sanyaku wrestler fought in a way that would make them fall to Maegashira, while Kiribayama, Kotonowaka, and Takanosho all had performances that have been Sanyaku promotion worthy at times.
The chaos of Natsu did not last into a playoff, but the cause of the chaos appeared on the final day. The Ozeki never fought at their best, and the grouping from Sekiwake through mid-Maegashira is remarkably even. There were no easy matches in the top half of Makuuchi. Although some lower Maegashira had terrible bashos, this pattern merely let up down the Banzuke rather than disappearing. Much of the most exciting came from men like Aoiyama, Sadanoumi, and Midorifuji, who were ranked below Maegashira #10.
When this basho is looked back on, it will be another tally for Terunofuji's yusho total. It won't even look as dramatic as it really was until the individual day's are assessed. There is no reason to expect anyone to challenge Terunofuji's preeminence anytime soon. Even with a two basho interruption of his yusho and jun-yusho streak, he came back in May. Yet if Terunofuji does win again in July, don't expect that to mean every rikishi below him will just roll over. They're too interesting for that.