For those catching up, Ozeki Goeido withdrew from Nagoya the morning of day 8, citing an injury to his right shoulder, and medical guidance to abstain from sumo for a month. While Goeido was not fighting well going into the middle weekend, his kyujo has far-reaching implications to the remainder of the tournament, which we shall detail.
Which leaves Takayasu as the final Ozeki still competing. But during his day 8 match, Takayasu appears to have injured his left elbow in his match with Tamawashi, as Tamawashi used his “arm breaker” hold that has betting so many rikishi in the past. Should Takayasu withdraw as well, we would find ourselves in a “Nozeki” situation for the first time in quite a while.
Who benefits the most from the culling of sumo’s second highest rank? I would say the injured Hakuho, who looked even rougher, more chaotic and maybe even desperate today in his match against Shodai. The lack of San’yaku opponents for the Yokozuna in week 2 means the schedulers will need to reach further down the banzuke for matches, and some mid-Maegashira may find themselves facing the Yokozuna. Hakuho has already had matches with both rikishi in from Maegashira 1-3, and faces Maegashira 4 Ichinojo on day 9. He has both Sekiwake, Takayasu if he stays in, and Kakuryu on the final day. But at some point he will look at his score, feel the twinge in that right arm and decide it’s time to go kyujo. I am sure given the increasing pain he suffers every day on the dohyo, he won’t have any problems finding a doctor to declare him in need of healing.
Azumaryu defeats Kotoyuki – Azumaryu, visiting from Juryo, employs a very skillful “not quite a henka” to dodge the tachiai and win over Kotoyuki.
Chiyomaru defeats Enho – Enho gets his submarine tachiai, but discovers that due to Chiyomaru’s enormous belly, there is not much he can do down there. Rather than attempt to grab a hold of Enho, Chiyomaru expertly thrusts him away, time and again. Enho can’t take much of this, and is pushed out for the loss.
Sadanoumi defeats Yago – An early thrusting battle turned into a stiff arm mawashi fight for grip. I am going to assume that Yago’s heavily bandaged knees are the source of some of the problems Yago has maintaining forward pressure. Yago moves to lift Sadanoumi, which only raises him up and leaves him exposed to Sadanoumi’s advance.
Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s tachiai is excellent, and he succeeds in raising Kagayaki up, but he finds it tough to maintain traction, as by day 8 the Nagoya dohyo has started to take on its typical smooth finish. Terutsuyoshi keeps battling forward, but Kagayaki gets a hazuoshi (armpit) attack running that prevents Terutsuyoshi from doing much of anything, save a throw attempt that Kagayaki disrupts, sending Terutsuyoshi to the clay. Watch your footing out there, gentlemen.
Nishikigi defeats Kaisei – Kaisei has nothing to offer in terms of sumo right now. I think he should just take his lumps and work on recovery.
Kotoeko defeats Tochiozan – Kotoeko maintains his oshi-focus at Tochiozan’s center mass, and does not let the veteran distract him. Solid sumo from Kotoeko, who dropped 4 in a row.
Toyonoshima defeats Takagenji – I loved this match. Takagenji’s youth and vigor against Toyonoshima’s quiet strength and experience. I know that he’s executed that sukuinage thousands of time in daily practice, and once he set it up there was nothing Takagenji could do but enjoy the ride.
Myogiryu defeats Daishoho – Daishoho attempted a bit of a side step, but Myogiryu adjusted and took a hold of the Mongol and advanced for a yorikiri.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – When we previewed this match, we knew it had potential, but it went a bit odd when Shohozan tried a dramatic hopping shift to his right at the tachiai. Chiyotairyu adjusted an tried to tackle Shohozan, who caught him and now the two are chest to chest. Shohozan tried to lift and twist to set up a throw, but Chiyotairyu advanced and drove Shohozan from the ring. I enjoyed the surprises this match delivered.
Shimanoumi defeats Okinoumi – Tons of traction problems today with Okinoumi’s protected left foot sliding out from under him to enable that loss. Have to love that Nagoya dohyo.
Tomokaze defeats Kotoshogiku – I feel a bit down about a match like this. Kotoshogiku still has the speed and the skill, but is no longer strong enough to bulldoze guys like Tomokaze. In my somewhat faulty brain, as soon as he gets his arms around an opponent, I expect Kotoshogiku to just motor them off the edge. But Tomokaze is more than up to the task of shutting down the former Ozeki.
Onosho defeats Takarafuji – I am going to start being hopeful that Onosho has gotten a bit of his balance back. He certainly looked more like his former self today, completely overpowering Takarafuji.
Asanoyama defeats Endo – Beautiful sumo from Asanoyama today. That fluid “rack and roll” into the uwatenage really reminded me of Kisenosato, and brought a smile to my face.
Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – Not sure what they are feeding Hokutofuji right now, but please keep doing it. Aoiyama gets turned around straight from the tachiai, and Hokutofuji escorts him out. The mighty Konosuke (gyoji) barely gets out of the way as over 700 pounds of combatants come rumbling through.
Abi defeats Ryuden – We got to see some well executed Abi-zumo today, but that ending was a bit of a puzzler. Ryuden lunged to his left (where Abi was not) and stumbles out of the ring. The kimarite was listed as hikiotoshi, but I am going to assume that poor traction once again played a part in this match.
Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – A matta revealed that Ichinojo intended a henka against Mitakeumi, which would have been bloody glorious. But when the match finally got underway, Ichinojo struggled to contain Mitakeumi who had gotten inside at the tachiai. Once The Boulder knew the jig was up, he released pressure and stepped out.
Takayasu defeats Tamawashi – As mentioned earlier, Takayasu sustained at least a minor injury to his left elbow thanks to Tamawashi’s “arm breaker” hold that has caught many others in its painful trap. Following to elbow tweak, you can see Takayasu become enraged and just go on the attack with his one good arm.
Kakuryu defeats Daieisho – Smooth and efficient win for the Yokozuna. He is delivering the best sumo of the basho each day, and I think he is the favorite for the yusho.
Hakuho defeats Shodai – This was a running gun battle of a match, and a complete chaotic mess. While Hakuho won, it showed few marks typical of his Yokozuna sumo. For the second day in a row he ends up laying on his opponent. Shodai executed at least two really solid escapes, leaving Hakuho to try pulling him down, which worked. That expression following the win, and that glance at his right elbow tell you everything you need to know here.