The middle day of the basho brought a welcome change in tone, as some long-suffering upper Maegashira finally got relief from the san’yaku pounding that was their daily lives. In response, we saw some rikishi score their first wins of the basho, and begin their long trek towards a more respectable final tally.
Chiyoshoma defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu visits from Juryo, and Chiyoshoma abandons any hopes of forward motion and pulls him down.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Yutakayama – Terutsuyoshi gets his second win of the tournament, and gets Yutakayama moving faster than I have ever seen before. I would guess that Yutakayama is headed back to Juryo.
Kotoeko defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze seems to have the stronger opening, even batting Kotoeko’s head around a few times for good measure. But while Tomokaze was busy doing all of this, Kotoeko lands a solid grip and takes control. The much larger, stronger Tomokaze gets suprised when Kotoeko “Hulks out” and employs some Kotoshogiku style offense, driving Tomokaze from the ring. Kotoeko is having a really good basho, and if he can keep this form he may be destined for a posting up the banzuke.
Yoshikaze defeats Daishoho – Yoshikaze seems to have turned a corner now, and is once again mustering at least enough power to win matches. Daishoho, for no reason I can think of, decided he was going to try to pull Yoshikaze down. A veteran like Yoshikaze can read your weight shift before you can apply force, Daishoho. Yoshikaze advances strongly into the pull, and wins.
Ryuden defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima continues to struggle in his return to Makuuchi. I really like Ryuden’s tachiai today, and you can see he lands that right hand grip immediately, and turns Toyonoshima to the side. Toyonoshima is never able to square his body, and is left trying anything to establish any offensive sumo.
Shohozan defeats Ishiura – Ishiura has returned to a low, “submarine” tachiai, which can work. But it’s a very narrow range between an advantageous body position, and a venerable one that surrenders any offensive sumo. Today Ishiura was too low, and Shohozan capitalized on his mistake.
Kagayaki defeats Yago – Kagayaki seems to have overcome his ring-rust, and is back to solid fundamentals. Yago seemed to have no answer to Kagayaki’s relentless drive forward, and strong pressure center-mass.
Meisei defeats Ikioi – Go to the hospital, Ikioi, you are too injured for proper sumo.
Aoiyama defeats Sadanoumi – Aoiyama’s sumo is right in his “butter zone” now, and he is sort of unstoppable at this level of the banzuke. A win tomorrow will net him a kachi-koshi.
Okinoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Okinoumi’s technical library on display again today, as he masterfully shuts down Kotoshogiku’s offensive gambits, and shows his superior balance and footwork. Kotoshogiku did get his hug-n-chug running, but Okinoumi is an old hand at defending against it, and was able to shift the match back in his favor by holding ground against the Kyushu Bulldozer.
Asanoyama defeats Abi – Abi again opens with his typical thrusting attack, and Asanoyama counters by moving closer and grabbing Abi’s mawashi. You can literally see Abi go slack as Asanoyama goes through a series of hip swings that keep Abi dancing to Asanoyama’s tune. Abi, you have a lot of potential, sir – we hope you can diversify.
Takarafuji defeats Onosho – “Ice Man” Takarafuji absorbs Onosho’s powerful opening attack, and focuses on getting himself in position to counterattack. Onosho can be counted on to over-commit, and Takarafuji takes him apart the moment his balance is too far forward. For Onosho backers, remember he just needs 8 wins.
Nishikigi defeats Chiyotairyu – Oh yes! Nishikigi gets his first win, with smart tactics against a pulling Chiyotairyu. When the Kokonoe man goes for the pull down (easy to anticipate), Nishikigi shows superior balance and footwork, and drives the big man out.
Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu has nothing in this match, and Daieisho makes him pay for trying to pull him down.
Kaisei defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s kryptonite strikes again, and Kaisei racks up his first win of the basho. A combination of a lot of pent up sumo offense on Kaisei’s part, and that knee injury on Mitakeumi’s part made this fairly one sided, but its good to see Kaisei get a win at last.
Takakeisho defeats Endo – I almost think Takakeisho is getting stronger, more aggressive. I am eager to see his week 2 matches really test him out, with most of the top-rankers now looking to be in good form.
Takayasu defeats Shodai – Ok, now I am starting to feel sorry for Shodai. Somebody shoot me. He has a pride-obliterating 0-8 make-koshi on day 8. Again we see a more “grab” focused Tachiai from Takayasu, and points to Shodai for a solid escape as the Ozeki can’t secure his grip. This moment of “escape” is where Shodai really shines, but Takayasu maintains focus and wins with an oshidashi.
Tochinoshin defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo picks up his first loss of the basho, as Tochinoshin affirms he can still lift Ichinojo. Tochinoshin sidestepped the tachiai, and landed his left hand “doom grip” at the start. From there it was obvious that he was going to use his “lift and shift”, and he took several swings at that gambit before it finally payed off.
Goeido defeats Tamawashi – When Goeido gets like this, you are in for a rough ride, no matter who you might be. Tamawashi has a strong start, which includes a slap to the face. But while Tamawashi is focusing on Goeido’s head, his hands have found their mark in a mae-mitsu grip, and it’s all over for Tamawashi. Goeido’s little flourish at the end, as if he has taken the trash to the curb, is a nice touch.
Hakuho defeats Tochiozan – I call Hakuho the “Michael Joran of Sumo” for good reason. Like Jordan, Hakuho will at times do things that defy explanation except to chalk it up to overflowing natural ability that is beyond anything a typical human could expect. Tochiozan had him boxed up, labeled and on the loading ramp. But somehow Hakuho used his poor body position (sideways, being pushed out) to form a leverage point and throw Tochiozan via kotenage. I had to watch this several times, Hakuho is probably the greatest rikishi of my lifetime.
Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji opened strong, with a lot of energy in his pushing attack, and it was great to see the Yokozuna’s opening pulling attack defeated by Hokutofuji. But its very tough to outmaneuver Kakuryu, and he is a master at taking whatever you throw at him and waiting for you to make even the smallest mistake.