With today’s sumo action, only one rikishi remains undefeated, and the basho (at least the yusho race) is in its normal form. We go racing into the middle day with the intensity climbing, and all of our favorites running hot.
Azumaryu defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi’s tachiai was close to excellent, as he came in below Azumaryu, and had superior hand and body placement. in fact he dominated the early portion of the match. Azumaryu rallied, but could not convert a painful looking right hand inside grip into any offense. A second break away and a third clash saw Azumaryu finally get a good right hand inside grip, and that was all he needed to finish Shimanoumi. That was at least twice Shimanoumi had Azamaryu in trouble, but could not finish him.
Daiamami defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi continues to struggle to put up a solid fight, his insistence on arm-bar holds seems to cause him plenty of trouble, as he grabbed Daiamami’s left upper arm, and then pulled? As a result, Nishikigi was high, moving in reverse and wide open for the yorikiri.
Kotonowaka defeats Kaisei – Kaisei had the early advantage, but he let Kotonowaka change his grip and get a double inside / morozashi. True, trying to lift and move over 400 pounds of rikishi is a tough job, but Kotonowaka is young and strong, and managed to get Kaisei over the bales for his 5th win.
Kotoshogiku defeats Meisei – Somehow, Kotoshogiku has found enough juice to keep his knees in place for yet another match. Not just in place, but they seem to actually be supporting some tough, aggressive sumo. That sukuinage was actually quite a display of Ozeki grade sumo.
Chiyomaru defeats Ishiura – Solid tachiai, with a second-step slide to the left by Ishiura, but Chiyomaru recovered before Ishiura could get behind him. Ishiura never recovered, and Chiyomaru was absolutely relentless. Some of the better sumo from Chiyomaru in the last year this March. Both end the day at 5-2.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama comes out strong, and Terutsuyoshi gets a face full of V-Twin power straight off the shikiri-sen. Terutsuyoshi stayed calm, kept his feet and found an opening and broke contact. Aoiyama lunged to pursue, and Terutsuyoshi dove in for the mawashi, landing a right hand inside grip. The little man had his position, and went to work. Taking a moment to consolidate his foot placement, he loaded a shitatenage and pulled the trigger. Great effort from Terutsuyoshi today, very impressed with his patience and careful sumo in a clutch. Aoiyama picks up his first loss and drops to 6-1.
Chiyotairyu defeats Ikioi – Chiyotairyu loves to defeat opponents by standing them up and slapping them down. Ikioi’s balance, in his younger days, was quite good. But with that right ankle chronically damaged, he has a weakness that Chiyotairyu exploited with absolutely perfect timing. You can see that he unleashes the pull the moment Ikioi tries to step forward with that right leg, leaving him un-weighted on the right side. Wow. Chiyotairyu improves to 6-1.
Sadanoumi defeats Tochiozan – That beach chair in Okinawa must be looking even better today after Tochiozan picked up his 7th straight loss. Worse yet the gumbai went to Tochiozan originally just to be reversed by a monoii.
Tochinoshin defeats Takarafuji – Well, we did call for a henka in this match, but it was Tochinoshin who stepped to the side at the tachiai, with great effect. But because Takarafuji always hedges his tachiai, they immediately went chest to chest, and Takarafuji began to work on keeping the former Ozeki from making any powerful moves. But after Takarafuji changed his grip to a double inside, the two began trading lifts, each raising and swinging the other in a contest of strength. Normally I would not expect Takarafuji to be so direct, and in fact it left him open for a throw which, to my delight, Tochinoshin executed for the win. Good job to Tochinoshin on staying in that match and exploiting his opportunity when it came to him.
Takanosho defeats Kagayaki – Takanosho got the better of the tachiai, slapping Kagayaki away and causing him to shift and regain balance. In that moment, Takanosho drove inside and put pressure at center mass. Kagayaki never had a chance to rebound, and was quickly out. Really good, aggressive sumo by Takanosho, and outstanding opening gambit. He advances to a well earned 6-1.
Tamawashi defeats Myogiryu – After a matta, it was an all out thrusting battle that Myogiryu did not have the foot position to win. Tamawashi did a good job of staying low, and cross thrusting against Myogiryu’s chest (left arm to right shoulder, right arm to left shoulder).
Onosho defeats Kiribayama – Onosho was lower and faster at the tachiai, and had that left hand thrusting against Kiribayama’s chin from below. That chin thrust seems to have really disrupted Kiribayama’s plans, as he recoiled and Onosho dove in. From that grip, it was a short move to an almost Enho style uwatedashinage, which sent Kiribayama to the clay. Nice sumo today from Onosho.
Ryuden defeats Shohozan – It must be quite frustrating for Shohozan, who shows up every day and puts a lot of effort and energy into his sumo, but only has 1 win to show for it this March. Ryuden completely dominated this match, never letting Shohozan get more than a moment of offense into this fight. Ryuden improves to 4-3.
Daieisho defeats Yutakayama – I am starting to worry about Yutakayama. Ideally he could get to an 8-7 kachi-koshi, but his sumo seems not quite ready for competition in the joi-jin. Today Daieisho established a nodowa, and never let up. Unable to adequately attack or even really defend, Yutakayama focused on trying to just stay in the match, but Daieisho had this won from the second step, and Yutakayama drops to 2-5.
Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Sorry all, that was some sloppy sumo from both rikishi. In my mind, I see the massive, frowning face of Musashigawa Oyakata admonishing both rikishi and telling them to try again. Even the shimpan thought it was so bad they wanted to discuss it for a minute. The only redeeming quality of this match was Abi’s ability to remain airborne until Hokutofuji could finish falling. That was some fine levitation.
Okinoumi defeats Shodai – As mentioned, Shodai can be quite streaky, and it seems his fighting spirit is now rattled, and he’s losing matches that he should win. I know some fans think he can execute Ozeki calibre sumo, and in fact he has demonstrated excellent technique. But higher ranks, require consistent production of winning sumo. Thus far Shodai continues to not quite have the mental steel needed to power through the soft spots. Shodai drops to 3-4.
Asanoyama defeats Endo – Asanoyama keeps his Ozeki bid running by defeating both Komusubi, improving to 6-1. The big events are coming up in week 2 as he will likely need a win or two against the three men who outrank him to qualify for consideration. His sumo today against Endo was quite good, and completely controlled the form and tempo of the match.
Takakeisho defeats Tokushoryu – Much as we love Tokushoryu, this was a very simple match, where Takakeisho used his unstoppable thrusting energy to stand Tokushoryu up, and immediately batted him down.
Kakuryu defeats Enho – Kakuryu went immediately for Enho’s head during the tachiai. Quite an interesting and surprising opening gambit from the Yokozuna, and quite effective too. Enho, rather than picking his target, attempts to evade the blows, and ends up leaning too far forward. Kakuryu is expert at spotting these mistakes, and it was the end for Enho. He stumbled forward with assistance from the Yokozuna and finished spinning into the clay. Brilliant opening gambit from Kakuryu.
Hakuho defeats Mitakeumi – Were any of the rest of you Tachiai fans grinning from ear to ear as Hakuho switched up his normal sumo and dispatched Mitakumi in a hurry? Shades of the Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride – “I’m going to duel him left-handed!” Hakuho is the sole leader of the yusho race going into nakabi.