Osaka Day 8 Highlights

Chiyomaru image shamelessly stolen from the NHK web site, to whom we apologize

There was excellent sumo action on the dohyo for nakabi, but there is no doubt the story with the most potential impact to the basho is that Chiyomaru (5-3) is kyujo due to a persistent fever. Word from the NSK is that he is being tested for influenza, and they will take appropriate action to treat him. What? Not COVID-19 you say? Japan is a very orderly place, and the current medical protocol states that they test for influenza first. A reminder to readers, if any rikishi pops positive for the dreaded corona virus, the remainder of the basho will be canceled. I hope for the sake of Chiyomaru, whatever he has is not serious, and not long lasting. It’s a shame because in spite of whatever encroaching illness, he was fighting better than any basho in the last year.

While we hope that Chiyomaru is comfortable in his quarantine cell at the local CoCo’s Ichibanya, showing them the terror of “Tabehoudai”, I was thrilled to watch a match I have been waiting more than a year to see – Asanoyama vs Yutakayama. There was a lot wrapped up into this match. The two of them had a fierce rivalry going as they climbed the sekitori ranks, and it was Yutakayama who broke into the joi-jin first. But an injury sent him back down the banzuke, and by all indication, it took a while for him to get his body back, followed by him recovering his sumo. The outcome of that match has serious implications for Asanoyama’s hoped for Ozeki bid, as the numerical count of wins matters, but the quality of those wins (and any losses) are considered as well. Fans will remember that the lack of “Quality” was the reason stated for rejecting Takakeisho’s first bid for promotion. In true Ozeki style, he shrugged it off and continued to dominate matches in the following tournament.

Highlight Matches

Meisei defeats Chiyomaru – Any virus that inhabits Chiyomaru must feel like the luckiest protein chain in the world. There’s just so much space for you and all the kids. Poor guy, please get better soon.

Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Plain and simple, those knees just could not maintain the pressure against Shimanoumi. The Kyushu Bulldozer had an unaccustomed grip on Shimanoumi, and struggled to use any of his “quick kill” moves that could have saved the endurance check against what is left of his knees. Kotoshogiku fans worry, as we know that his knees get worse in week 2.

Aoiyama defeats Daiamami – Big Dan Aoiyama shrugs off the loss on day 7, and completely disrupts Daiamami. Normally pulling like Aoiyama did is a very risky move, but he just managed to execute and complete it before he ran out of clay. A win tomorrow and Aoiyama is kachi-koshi.

Ishiura defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi has nothing to offer any of the top division rikishi this March, and as a Nishikigi booster its sad to see. While Ishiura could have half-efforted this match and probably still won, he yet against brings some solid sumo to the dohyo. I think with a bit of work, he could replicate the Harumafuji death-spin that I miss so much. I am starting to think Ishiura might be a serious rikishi. Nishikigi now one loss from an early and brutal make-koshi.

Ikioi defeats Azumaryu – Classic Ikioi densha michi-sumo. Azumaryu had zero chance today. Sadly there were thunderous roars for the home town hero, only heavy breathing.

Kotonowaka defeats Chiyotairyu – Soft tachiai from Chiyotairyu, with an early pull down attack that released forward pressure. My compliments to Kotonowaka for recognizing that gambit from Chiyotairyu and exploiting it to good effect. Kotonowaka improves to 6-2.

Kaisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Much as I enjoy Terutsuyoshi, sometimes good old Newtonian sumo carries the day. Kaisei used his enormous body to overwhelm Terutsuyoshi’s offense, and kept him moving back, never giving him a chance to set his feet and attack. Kaisei improves to 4-4 after a rough start to Haru.

Shohozan defeats Tochiozan – The battle of sadness, it was make-koshi for Tochiozan. His sumo is still there, but it has no power to win. Each day that goes by, there is more tape on Tochiozan, and you have to assume that the injuries are accumulating. Painfully.

Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – Takarafuji did not engage in his “defend and extend” sumo today. In fact this bout could almost be considered hasty by Takarafuji standards. Sadanoumi charged in with energy, but Takarafuji defended well at the tachiai, and quickly found he could move Sadanoumi back. One final shove sent Sadanoumi down the hanamichi for a Takarafuji win.

Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – Did anyone else cringe when Tochinoshin pivoted on that bandage right leg? I admire that win, but good lord, I have no interest in seeing the big wheel chair again this basho. That injured looking hop to take weight off of the right leg following the shitatedashinage to win the match told the story for me.

Takanosho defeats Myogiryu – Takanosho continues to be overwhelmingly genki this tournament, as there is something physically amiss with Myogiryu. It’s the only way I can explain that he is just 1 loss away form make-koshi on the middle day of the bahso.

Kagayaki defeats Kiribayama – I loved that Kagayaki tachiai. He came inside with both hands from underneath, and completely shut down any attempt at offense from Kiribayama. To his credit he got a left hand inside grip while he staggered to regain balance. But Kagayaki’s stance was solid, and he forced Kiribayama down, back and out.

Enho defeats Onosho – Wow! Both of these rikishi exceeded expectations today. Enho finally cooked off his best sumo, and I was baffled that Onosho’s balance had improved enough that it took 3 high maneuverability, high energy attack sequences form Enho to finish him off. First off, that flying henka. Beautifully executed, but Onosho recovered well. The tottari almost finished him, but Onosho kept his feet! Onosho rallied and attack with power, but it only set up the katasukashi. Great sumo offense from Enho, and surprisingly good defense work by Onosho today.

Daieisho defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu has reverted back to Juryo level sumo, and he’s really out classed by the upper echelons of the banzuke this March. One more loss for the Hatsu yusho winner, and its make-koshi for him.

Okinoumi defeats Endo – Endo was lower, stronger and inside at the tachiai. But Okinoumi got a strong right hand outside grip, and went to work. Again, some element of Newtonian physics was at play, as Okinoumi had better leverage, and much better foot placement. Both men end the match at 4-4.

Yutakayama defeats Asanoyama – Oh the match I was waiting more than a year to see. Welcome back Yutakayama, we need your sumo to drive Asanoyama to higher levels of performance. Yutakayama set the form and cadence of the match, Asanoyama tried for too long to drive the match towards something resembling yotsu, but Yutakayama tore him up. I personally think this impacts Asanoyama’s Ozeki bid, as he was ransacked like a fully stocked Walmart facing a horde of corona virus panic shoppers by a Maegashira 3. That loud, fleshy thud at the end of the match? That may have been Asanoyama’s Ozeki promotion for March.

Shodai defeats Ryuden – Much as I knock Shodai, I hope (as I do for all rikishi) that they can do well and win every time they step on the dohyo. One of Shodai’s biggest problems is that he lets his worries and his mind defeat him, rather than letting his frankly good technique take care of business. So I was delighted to see him shake off his losing streak today, and in very good form. He did not give Ryuden even a moment to get started, inside, back and out.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – I did enjoy watching Takakeisho deliver multiple volleys against Hokutofuji today, as Hokutofuji continues his trek toward “The most powerful make-koshi in sumo”. My only knock is that Takakeisho did not quite finish him on the 3rd volley and eased up. Follow through, Grand Tadpole.

Hakuho defeats Abi – After Abi jumps early for a matta, it’s over in a flash in what looks like at least 40% slippiotoshi. Abi got at least one good blast in, but nothing was stopping Hakuho today. The dai-Yokozuna racks yet another day 8 kachi-koshi in his somewhat unbelievable career.

Kakuryu defeats Mitakeumi – Our second delightful densha michi match today. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, Mitakeumi decided to try to pull Kakuryu straight out of the tachiai. I can’t recall the last time I saw Mitakeumi look more like a wheel barrow full of compost on its way to the garden. Wow.

30 thoughts on “Osaka Day 8 Highlights

  1. Concerned for Terunofuji down in Juryo. That left leg didn’t look good.

    Ichinojo is showing fire but he’s just not converting it

  2. enho, my greatest of compliments for that marvelous fight!
    slippiotoshi and rambotoshi – wow, yokozunas …

      • He also looked like he will follow the footsteps of Ura soon. Yes, that looked great, but the way he bend his legs to recover from Onoshos attacks were very close to just bend them a tad too much. It’s a dance on a knifes edge and im kinda worried for him. Nevertheless by far the most spectacular bout of the day.

    • I really don’t know why people are getting excited about a henka. But even if you like henka, that one was a total failure. Onosho was watching Enho like a hawk and was not available for that hataki when it came. Enho won that bout in the wild, quick-moving chase that followed. To me, it was just a spectacular waste of energy.

  3. Abi appeared to slip n collapse on that taped knee and wince… いたい!
    And what are the referees saying at the end of the matches?(now that we can hear everything) I think I heard owari, oshibori — “wakkannai” 😥

  4. I’m noticing a kinder, gentler, Hakuho. He’s shown respectful body language towards his fallen opponent two days in a row. Has he mellowed?

  5. I heard a couple comments from Murray (?) that I thought were interesting: there used to be ‘draws’ in sumo, and “where are the human cushions” after Takakeisho tossed Hokutofuji into the empty seats.

    • I think technically draws are still possible – after two mizu-iri. I’ll have to check to be sure, though.

      • Really? Yes, I’d be interested in what you find out. I started watching sumo as as kid in the Taiho/Kashiwado days and have never heard of such a thing. So I’m assuming Murray was talking about an even earlier time period. But…if it’s still technically possible that would be of interest.

  6. The NHK broadcast showed that, after his bout, as Takakeisho went to sit down by the dohyo, his left leg spasmed, causing most of his left side to shake. It was so noticeable that they replayed it, then showed a close-up shot of Takakeisho leaving his left leg extended as he sat, with his little towel pressed to the knee area. It may be nothing, but, then again, it might explain a lot about his recent performances.

    • I just went back and watched again on Jason’s YouTube channel. Takakeisho hobbles a bit after his victory, gets down and does the chikara-mizu thing to the next guy and then squats. When he squats, his left leg is trembling. (And then Jason’s video ends. So I couldn’t see the stretching out part that you reference.)

    • Yes, this was mentioned in the Japanese press as well. They also noticed that he was favoring that leg as he went down the hana-michi afterwards. My guess is that he will say nothing and try to gambarize.

    • His leg was quivering before he even stepped off he dohyo and he kept that cloth nursing his knee. I’ll let you know if the Japanese press reveals any more about it.

  7. Asanoyama probably needs to go 6-1 from here to make Ozeki, which would perforce entail beating two of the three Yokozuna/Ozeki. And he’s got Shodai tomorrow, against whom he is 2-3, including losses in the last two basho. It’s possible 5-2 could be enough, but would require quality wins and no more bad losses.

  8. About Chiyomaru, NHK news said that he isn’t the first rikishi, only the first one from Makuuchi to withdraw because of fever. Apparently two Jonidan gys withdrew before, but they haven’t been named.
    I don’t think there will be separate tests for flu and corona, but flu is ibviously way more likely, so lets hope it’s just a normal flu.

  9. Still surprised no one has commented on Chiyomaru being quarantined in a a CoCo’s Ichibanya in “Tabehoudai” mode. Maybe I am the only curry fan on the blog…

    • Whatever restaurant has Chiyomaru during Tabehodai is going to be a ghost town the next day. Only the shrieking specters of hungry customers who saw food but could not eat it will fill its empty halls.

      But I guess quarantine jokes don’t work too well at the moment.

  10. I agree with Nishikigi. I too am a fan, and it’s difficult to see him flounder. Also, I was delighted too to see Yutakayama perform so well today. Crushing defeat to Asanoyama on his Ozeki quest which I really want to see him achieve. I think he is Japan’s next yokozuna material. But good for Yutakayama!

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