Natsu Day 9 Highlights


It’s true the day 9 coverage was fairly lose, as I was zonked out by the overnight live blogging and went to bed early. In the process, Goeido did in fact cop to an injury and went kyujo. He has had problems with mounting an effective offense since early in the tournament, and so we will face a July tournament with the only 2 current Ozeki both kadoban. Some may see this as calamitous, but I am quite certain it’s all part of the great rotation that has been brewing for some time, and inches closer with each passing tournament. Keep in mind, in the recent past there has been as many as six ozeki all on the banzuke. So the current situation is all part of the grand ebb and flow of sumo.

The future Ozeki are already in competition, we just need some of the sunset rikishi to accept intai and clear out the lanes for the new crop to rise. The current group of “senior statesmen” style rikishi are holding on for a good long time, indeed. Even my beloved Yoshikaze is a bit long serving. And there are many like him. It’s reasonable to ask if Tochinoshin, at 30 and with a bum knee, is really going to have much impact as an Ozeki. I don’t wish him any ill fortune, but he is on injury away from intai himself.

Onosho got to visit the top division and face Uncle Sumo, who really is out of gas, out of tricks, and possibly out of time. I feel for the guy, but temper my sympathy with the understanding that sumo is Darwin in action. And I can’t help but think there is symbolism in a young, strong genki rikishi forcefully pushing an injured old wrestler out of the ring. As a result, Aminishiki is make-koshi.

Nishikigi is driven, no doubt about that, but it was really fun to see Ishiura trying some direct confrontation sumo today. He put forth a worthy effort, but Nishikigi channeled Tochinoshin and lifts the smaller man out of the ring. Ishiura seems to be this bundle of talent and energy that needs to find effective ways to execute sumo at the highest levels. His size brings problems and benefits, and right now it seems he is not effectively sorting the benefits from the problems.

Kyokutaisei opened strong against Asanoyama, getting inside, and raising him up. But then both men started trading tsuppari for a time, with little useful effect. The match got very exciting when they went chest to chest, with Asanoyama working to leverage a throw. Kyokutaisei showed fantastic sumo chops by countering multiple times as Asanoyama worked to load the throw. But Asanoyama persisted, and eventually pushed the Hokkaido man out. Great effort from both. I hope this one makes the NHK highlight reel.

Chiyonokuni attacks with purpose against Takekaze’s non-commital tachiai, and takes control right away. With the win, Chiyonokuni scores his kachi-koshi. Sadly for Chiyonokuni, he tends to be hot / cold, and there is a good chance that his next basho he will be promoted to a point where he struggles.

Aoiyama had a great tachiai, which looked a lot like one of Abi’s successful tachiais – both arms out and applying pressure before his opponent could complete his launch motion. Kagayaki struggled to find an offensive footing, and in that moment of imbalance, Aoiyama won the match, sending Kagayaki to visit the shimpan.

Okinoumi had control of the match at the moment of tachiai, when Ryuden went off balance onto his left foot for a brief moment. Ryuden never regained any sort of offensive capacity, and Okinoumi handed the young man his make-koshi for his troubles. Ryuden has a huge amount of potential, but has looked less capable this basho. I am sure he will regroup and make another run up the banzuke in the fall.

Ikioi continues to dominate, today he withstood Chiyotairyu’s blistering tachiai, and then took charge. Containing Chiyotairyu’s attempts to grab a hand hold, Ikioi maneuvered him around for a bit, then rolled him to the clay. My respect and appreciation for Ikioi continues to grow.

Also really impressed by Abi’s performance today. He sticks Kaisei with a nodowa right out of the tachiai. Now, with arms that long, this is a real problem for his opponents. Raised high, Kaisei wants to see how long Abi can hold up his ponderous bulk. Abi seems to have that as part of his plan, and releases the hold, sending the Brazilian face first towards the salt basket.

Yutakayama lost again, but another valiant battle, today against Mitakeumi. With Endo’s kyujo and Tochinoshin coming closer to a valid Ozeki bid, Mitakeumi may be making a play to return to his Sekiwake slot.

Tochinoshin’s fight was not even close. He gave Daieisho a mid-dohyo power wedgie lift, and Daieisho obliged by responding with a cartoon like mid-air leg pedal to punctuate that he was little more than cargo at this point. With Goedio out, Tochinoshin’s yusho changes are going up.

Ichinojo picked up the fusensho with Goeido succumbing to lower body injuries.

Hakuho gave Kotoshogiku a brief moment to enjoy a hug-n-chug against the dai-Yokozuna, and them unleashed a theater grade uwatenage for the win. Hakuho seems to be getting himself together now. I know he wants Yusho 41, so he’s got to beat Tochinoshin.

Shodai tried the same thrashing throw-shove at the tawara that has worked a few times this basho, but Kakuryu was ready and made him eat it.

On to day 10! Endo returns, Tochinoshin faces Chiyotairyu and Abi gets Tamawashi.

15 thoughts on “Natsu Day 9 Highlights

  1. Nobody has mentioned anything about Hakuho’s failure to touch the dirt with his fists at the start of today’s bout, except to say something about it being ”1960’s style sumo”. Anybody think it was a big deal? Or gave him an advantage at the start?

    • Yes – MOST definite advantage – it was obvious false-start – Kotoshogiku body was moving down and Hakuho’s body was moving forward – at the very first moment. There is no other name for it but CHEATING and it is sad to see Hakuho employing such dirty tricks.

      • Is it correct that a false start is not subject to review? In other words if the Gyoji doesn’t call it, there is no possibility of instant replay to correct the missed call?

        • The chief judge (the guy sitting at the “bottom” of the TV view) can stop the bout immediately if the gyoji doesn’t do it himself, but other than that, no, there’s no review instance for matta.

    • I truly want to appreciate Hakuho’s sumo, but when he pulls stunts like this is just makes me resent him. Someone with his level of talent shouldn’t do things like that. And after having watched his behavior with Yoshikaze in November 2017, along with various other little things here and there, I now tend to actively pull for whatever rikishi faces him. I don’t really like having that reaction to such a talented rikishi, but his arrogance is really off-putting.

  2. I keep expecting Abi to go “Mmmm… What’s up, Doc?” and pull a carrot at the end of these matches.

    It’s funny to call 27 year old Ryuden “young”. Shodai is younger than him. Ichinojo is younger than him.

    • Look at all the 30 year olds in the top division! Yeah, he’s not Onosho young, but he’s not Bruce old either.

    • I think I saw 27-year-old Endo getting called young around here sometime last week, too, my reaction was much the same.

      On the flipside, we’re seeing what it can mean to be really young and in the top division. Tochinoshin used to be absolutely hopeless against joi-jin competition – but he was only 22 years old at the time, so he’s had 8 years to get from there to here. The typical guy turning pro out of the university circuit will be 24 or 25 by the time he’s in high makuuchi, leaving him with much less time to improve his game.

  3. One of my favorite things to watch is the little rituals each rikishi goes through, particularly on the last visit to the salt basket (unfortunately you don’t see much of this in the highly edited replays of Kintamayama or the NHK highlights). There was Kotoshogiku’s famous stretch of course (though apparently that’s been retired), Takayasu’s three slaps to the mawashi followed by the salt grab and a sort of grunt n’ squat, Hakuho likes to stomp on the bales and then does his game face exhale, Tochinoshin does an enthusiastic belt slap and power shuffle back to the corner before for a vigorous face rub with the towel. Now that he’s closer to the top and showing up on Jason’s Sumo Channel I also started to notice Yutakayama does this funny series of nods while staring off in the distance like he’s getting advice from some unseen spirit. He also looks like he’s in a perpetual state of worry but maybe that’s a new thing….

    • Ikioi slaps his mawashi. Someone use to lick his fingers and sprinkle salt in his mawashi. I think Giku used to pick out his thong, too.

      • It’s Arawashi who always sprinkles salt in his mawashi, although I’ve seen traces of salt on other mawashi from time to time as the rikishi come to the shiriki-sen. Do you think they do that for additional protection against injury? If so, I can think of several rikishi who would do well to dump some salt in their drawers!


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