Hakuho Just Fell

I love Ikioi and I like seeing him win his first gold star. However, my reaction is like when Twitch was killed by Cypher in the Matrix:

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After a weird tachiai, almost completely without any contact, both wrestlers briefly grappled and backed up to size each other up. Ikioi had this look of, “What the hell am I going to do now?” Hakuho went in to attack, and stumbled.

He needed help from Ikioi to get up so I’m hoping he’s not injured. If he’s injured, they’ll never let me buy tickets to another basho. Everyone’s dropping like flies. I’ll be in Nagoya for Sunday so it’s great to have an exciting, dramatic tournament. But it’ll be disappointing if Hakuho’s not there and not in top form. I leave for Japan in a couple of days, so after tomorrow there likely won’t be any posts from me for a bit.

Exciting Matches, Dramatic Yusho Race: Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kisenosato, Takayasu

I love the fact that we’re now more than half-way through the tournament and we’ve still got four leaders and a further four wrestlers one loss off pace. Today lived up to its billing with several great bouts. When I see that the On-Demand highlight show is available, I’ll post the link. In the meantime, enjoy the fan vid from Kintamayama. Harumafuji had his hands full with the young Shodai but prevailed in a thriller. Terunofuji had just scraped by with a win against the Tasmanian Devil, energizing the crowd, when the yokozuna and maegashira squared off.

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Shodai Counters the Brutal Nodowa

Harumafuji lunged forcefully with an effective nodowa, momentarily surging forward until a quick chop from Shodai’s left hand dislodged the vise-like grip. Shodai then pivoted and pulled the Mongolian to the edge where Harumafuji’s expert footwork kept him inside the dohyo. The back-and-forth finally ended after he spun Shodai backwards, slapped him as he turned around, then propelled the pair off the dohyo with full force. One heck of an entertaining yorikiri.

Ichinojo fell off pace by virtue of a stunning effort from Chiyonokuni. Kaisei needs to earn his kachikoshi as he’s benefited from two fusen default victories. He was effective against Mitakeumi but will face a challenge in Tochiozan tomorrow. Sadly, Kotoyuki and Endo are winless and now officially makekoshi.

 

Ichinojo Effective, Kotoshogiku Out

The crowd enjoyed Ichinojo’s come-from-behind victory. Tamawashi forced the monster to backpedal with a strong nodowa but couldn’t quite get enough momentum and was stopped at the bales. Ichinojo was able to spin the pair and put Tamawashi into reverse, finishing with an effective yorikiri; at 6-1 he’s the low maegashira on the leader board joined by Takarafuji, and then Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kisenosato and Takayasu from the sanyaku ranks.

Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kisenosato each quickly dispatched their opponents. Takarafuji outlasted Yoshikaze and Takayasu flipped the winless Kotoyuki to remain in the leadership pack. Endo’s sadly still winless after a thrilling back-and-forth with Chiyonokuni. There’s no doubting his effort. His confidence is pretty low, however.

Kotoshogiku joined the long list of kyujo wrestlers. With 1 win to his credit, he will be kadoban next tournament. As sumo’s resident armchair doctor, I question the decision to compete in the first place. If a wrestler is 75%, he’s not going to be effective without yaocho fishiness. It’s best to sit the entire tournament, like Osunaarashi.

 

Well, Now Everyone’s Defeated. Wide Open Yusho Race…For Now

Unfortunately, the field is beset by injury. Aside from all of the kyujo wrestlers (Tokitenku is way down in Sandanme – retirement coming?) we’ve got a multitude of walking wounded. Kotoshogiku’s left leg cannot overcome the weakness in his right and Terunofuji is clearly not 100% but is giving a valiant effort in trying to retain his rank.

With the injuries, all yokozuna with losses, Kisenosato’s surprising loss yesterday and an under-performing Goeido, Takarafuji and Takayasu are in contention from the very difficult position.

As I mentioned to Celina, I did not think Sadanoumi had it in him to take down Ichinojo but in retrospect, I should have seen it coming. The way he bulldozed Kitaharima the day before should have foreshadowed his ability to get Ichinojo off balance from the tachiai. Once that big guy starts going backwards, physics takes over and he won’t stop. Everything is up for grabs!

I’d also like to pass along my condolences to readers in France. The events in Nice last night were shocking.