The big story of the day is Takayasu’s kyujo. It’s quite rare for a rikishi to go kyujo once they enter the arena. In fact, Takayasu participated in the Makuuchi dohyo-iri, which makes his withdrawl rarer still. According to press reports, Takayasu hurt his back warming up prior to his match, and could barely walk as he left the venue. The fans, and his day 8 opponent Takarafuji were surprised and a bit disoriented at the kyujo announcement. Takayasu drops to 3-5, and if he can’t come back and rack up 5 wins, will be demoted to Sekiwake (Ozekiwake) for January, and possibly face the same fate as Tochinoshin. Tachiai hopes that Takayasu can bounce back soon.
For those that did compete, there was some great sumo on display, and it was nice to see some rikishi win matches against opponents they had not yet found a way to defeat. On to the highlights!
Daishoho defeats Chiyomaru – Daishoho’s strong tachiai stands Chiyomaru up, and seems to briefly distract him. Daishoho advances and moves Chiyomaru out. With the loss, Chiyomaru drops out of the group just behind Hakuho. Chiyomaru is seen flexing his left arm after the match, hopefully not another injury there.
Takanosho defeats Daishomaru – Takanosho scores his first ever win over Daishomaru. He was low and fast at the tachiai, and was able to get inside of Daishomaru, and simply move forward for the win.
Ishiura defeats Nishikigi – Pleased to say no henka today. Ishiura used strong, straightforward sumo, and took the fight to Nishikigi. The two battled for hand placement and grip, and it was really good to see Ishiura fighting it out against a larger and strong opponent in terms of sheer strength. But the best was saved for the finish, as Ishiura used the seldom seend mitokorozeme / triple attack to bring Nishikigi to the clay. Nicely done!
Chiyotairyu defeats Shimanoumi – Well, that’s one way to get it done. Famous for his blistering high energy tachiai, Chiyotairyu hops up at the tachiai and henkas an onrushing Shimanoumi with a surprising amount of grace and agility for a man of such size. His first ever win over Shimanoumi.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Shodai – Another trick tachiai, as Terutsuyoshi pops up, ducks down and pivots to his right, grabbing Shodai’s leg at the initial charge. What’s fun to watch is Shodai’s somewhat questionable tachiai happen in comparative slow motion to Terutsuyoshi’s rapid combination of moves. The opening gambit places Terutsuyoshi behind Shodai, and with two hands on Shodai’s left knee.
Kagayaki defeats Kotoshogiku – Another first ever win, as Kotoshogiku tries to set up the hug-n-chug, but can only get one thrust in, and then it all falls apart. Kind of sad to see Kotoshogiku in this state, but happy that Kagayaki racked up another win to stay 1 behind Hakuho.
Tsurugisho defeats Sadanoumi – As expected, Sadanoumi latches on to Tsurugisho’s mawashi at the tachiai and gets to work. Tsurugisho is ready and replies with his own grip, and the two brute it out. This is a battle that Tsurugisho is built to win, but I was impressed with Sadanoumi’s first escape. Great ring sense and fantastic agility.
Kotoeko defeats Onosho – Onosho looked to be trying his day 6/7 battle plan (which worked quite well), but Kotoeko was ready. Taking Onosho to his chest he gave ground and stepped to the side at the bales. As is customary for Onosho, his weight was too far forward to stop, and into the clay he falls.
Yutakayama defeats Enho – I loved watching the pre-bout on this one, as you can read Yutakayama just saying “Ok, what is this guy going to try today?”. He lines up at the shikiri-sen, then nudges himself back. Enho goes for the crouch, Yutakayama thinks for a moment, then hops back some more. By the time they launch, Yutakayama is half way to Nagasaki, and both men just stand up at the tachiai. AWESOME. Gyoji says, “guys! knock it off”. Second try – matta! Oh this is awesome. Now Yutakayama hops back more! Another stand up tachiai! Gyoji Konosuke is clearly frustrated and waves his hands and shouts hakki-yoi! Bizzaro match ahoy! The two do end up in a heck of a battle, with Enho surprisingly effective against Yutakayama’s superior mass, but Yutakayama’s balance is set and Enho can’t disrupt him enough to bring him down. As a bonus, we nearly have a second kintamadashi in two days to close the match. In slow motion replays, the look on Konosuke’s face is priceless. Brilliant.
Shohozan defeats Ryuden – Yet another first ever win as Shohozan gets a blindingly fast tsukiotoshi at the tachiai and rolls Ryuden to the clay.
Kotoyuki defeats Myogiryu – A straightforward thrusting match, which is Kotoyuki’s preferred brand of sumo. Myogiryu only manages to rally briefly, but its not enough to stop “The Penguin” from picking up win #5.
Daieisho defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi generates little forward pressure in response to Daieisho’s strong charge. Daieisho can really move forward with strength, as Hakuho found out on day 2. Okinoumi sometimes struggles with a chronic injury in his lower pelvis area, and this may be the cause of his less than powerful sumo this basho.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Great sumo from Endo today, and I was quite impressed by Hokutofuji’s ability to absorb everything that Endo threw at him over the course of just a few second. The match was lost because Hokutofuji kept insisting on trying to pull Endo down, and his balance was good enough to survive each attempt. Hokutofuji threw away commanding position each time, and the 4th try resulted in Endo’s winning attack.
Asanoyama defeats Abi – Second battle in the Komusubi wars, Asanoyama was able to withstand the hailstorm of thrusts from Abi-zumo and get close enough to attack. Abi reacted to escape Asanoyama’s impending grip, but lost his footing and went out.
Mitakeumi defeats Aoiyama – Another example the Mitakeumi is quite a bit less than genki. Aoiyama bats him around with great effect for what seems like forever, until Big Dan seems to run out of energy. Mitakeumi decides, surprisingly, to give Aoiyama a hug and march him out. I hope Mitakeumi had someone examine that skull damage already.
Takakeisho defeats Meisei – Takakeisho is back to looking rough and disorganized, but he gets the job done for win #5.
Hakuho defeats Tamawashi – There are times when Hakuho does things that annoy the sumo fans. They can seem gratuitous and unnecessary, and they tend to fuel an undercurrent in some corners of dislike for the greatest rikishi to mount the dohyo in our time. Today, we got a little shove against Tamawashi following a false start, which seems to have really fired up some fans. The match itself was fairly straightforward, but there is clearly a bit of tension between these two rikishi that goes beyond the dohyo. The Boss remains in sole possession of the lead.