Hakuho’s Henka Leaves Fans Upset
Hakuho, you’re the winningest man in sumo today. There is, on any given day, no one who can defeat you. Why on earth would you side-step a 5-1 Maegashira 2? That was the question all sumo fans asked towards the end of today’s bouts in Fukuoka. According to Jason of the YouTube channel fame, the crowd watching the Hakuho – Yoshikaze match went angry, and rightly so. What Hakuho’s face as the match ends, he seemed unhappy, too.
However I think this may add evidence to my running assumption that Hakuho is less than fully recovered, and is severely mobility challenged. With Yoshikaze being one of the best mobile attack platforms in Sumo, Hakuho may have determined that if he let Yoshikaze get started, he was losing for sure. To be honest, when facing a sumotori like Yoshikaze, there is a recognizable risk that one or both men would be injured.
But one Yokozuna match did deliver – Harumafuji vs Mitakeumi! I am going to venture to say that Mitakeumi has a lot of natural balance, and thinks on his feet. Harumafuji pulled out several of his usual tricks, but did not deploy the spin cycle or the Darth Vader throat grip. Harumafuji managed a win, but Mitakeumi really made him work for it.
Ikioi, Chiyoshoma and Sokokurai all lost today, narrowing the group behind Kakuryu to 4.
In Juryo Osunaarashi finally lost a match today, so everyone in Juryo has at least one loss, with Ura and Yamaguchi in the group just behind Osunaarashi, Seiro and Satoyama in the lead. Unlike Aki, there may be some clear winners coming out of Juryo into Makuuchi this time.
- Undefeated: Kakuryu
- Chasers: Harumafuji, Hakuho, Goeido, Ishiura
- Hunt Group: Kisenosato, Terunofuji, Tamawashi, Shodai, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Arawashi, Sokokurai
8 matches remain
Ishiura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ishiura wins again – convincingly! I hope in week 2 they put Ishiura against at least one Sanyaku ranked wrestler. I would like to see how he does against the big guns of sumo. If he can stay healthy, and stick to his brand of sumo, this guy probably has a bright future. He stayed very low, got a solid grip and just pushed. He made it look easy, and that is usually a hallmark of greatness.
Myogiryu defeats Hidenoumi – Excellent display of strength sumo. Both rikishi really put everything they had into this match, and it went on for quite a while in sumo terms.
Tochinoshin defeats Ikioi – Tochinoshin took control, wrapped up Ikioi and controlled the match. Ikioi has been on a hot streak thus far, but he was unable to establish his mobile engagement strategy that he prefers. Chest to chest, Tochinoshin dominated with his superior leg strength. Nicely done!
Shodai defeats Kisenosato – Oh wow, this one was fantastic. Another younger sumotori with acres of talent. He took one a master of strength sumo and prevailed. Kisenosato really have him a strong tachiai, and to my surprise Shodai absorbed the impact and immediately went to work on his grip. Kisenosato starting moving forward, got Shodai to the edge and attempted a throw, which failed, but left Kisenosato off balance. Shodai read this change, and pressed his advantage to win.
Goeido defeats Kaisei – Goeido once again was sloppy, unfocused and all over the map. As a result Kaisei nearly had him several times. Goeido needs to settle down and stay in his mode for the much tougher matches in the coming week.
Terunofuji defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama come in healthier and with a much longer reach, but the resurgent Terunofuji bottled him up and won the match. I am really quite impressed with how well Terunofuji is doing in spite of his injuries.
Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – This is more like it, Takayasu. Kotoshogiku rushed to get his hug-n-chug technique deployed, Takayasu was patient, waited for things to unfold and seized his moment. When Takayasu can follow this recipe, he usually wins. His size and strength gives him the time to wait for the match to unfold, and his skill allows him to usually deploy a winning move, even when it’s at the last moment and his heels are on the tawara. I remain convinced he will be an amazing Ozeki one day soon.
Kakuryu defeats Endo – Yes it was a win, but Kakuryu did not look good doing it. Endo was a bit too eager, and charged into Kakuryu’s collapsing defense. From there it was quick work to pivot and pull Endo to the clay.