I must apologize for the delay in providing today’s highlight descriptions. Usually I’m writing during the matches and post as soon as they’re over. We’re at such a pivotal moment in this tournament that I felt better descriptions were in order, especially for the early matches. We had some great ones today…not many of the usual quickies.
Hakuho’s loss yesterday brought the contest for the yusho into doubt. He had looked so fierce and dominant early in the tournament. Unflappable. Now he shares the lead with the new Ozeki and a returning one. “The other one” has needed to take the rest of the tournament off. On to the action.
Tobizaru defeated Chiyomaru (3-9): Chiyomaru’s tachiai and thrusts shove Tobizaru back half a step. But Tobizaru got a double-handed belt grip and quickly drove Chiyomaru to the edge. Rather than expend a bunch of energy at the bales trying to lift the Chartreuse Zeppelin up and over, Tobizaru ended the bout with a sudden throw. He let go of the belt with his right, sliding his arm under Chiyomaru’s arm pit, and twisted, throwing Chiyomaru to the middle of the ring with the left. Shitatenage.
Wakatakakage (8-4) defeated Nishikigi (5-7): Wakatakakage tried a quick pull. Nishikigi snuffed it out and tried the Aunt Joan attack, which consists of, “Come here boy, I haven’t seen you in ages!” and then taking the opponent’s face in both hands and molding the cheeks like Play-Doh. That’s not much of a sumo strategy, however, and probably just freaked Wakatakakage out a little, so Nishikigi abandoned it in favor of a right handed belt grip. Wakatakakage shrugged him off, though, and drove forward, Nishikigi hanging on for dear life with this feet along the tawara. However, Wakatakakage made one more drive forward and this time Nishikigi could not move laterally to escape. Yorikiri.
Tochinoshin (7-5) defeated Shohozan (2-10): The Sky Crane is not what it once was. After a strong tachiai, both men settled into a grapple with both hands wrapped solidly in each other’s belts. Tochinoshin exerted a lot of force to get Shohozan sliding backwards to the edge. But at the edge, his drive failed so he attempted a throw but Shohozan resisted and countered with his own throw, sending both men tumbling over the dohyo. The gumbai went to Shohozan but a mono-ii judges conference decided a re-do was in order.
On the redo, I think Tochinoshin was suddenly allergic to silk as they both went with a brief oshi battle. Shohozan tried to sneak under and grab the belt but Tochinoshin shifted with a quick pull and forced Shohozan to stop his fall with his hands. Hatakikomi.
Sadanoumi (6-6) defeated Kaisei (5-7): Sadanoumi was all offense today. He drove forward into Kaisei and when that didn’t work, tried to move laterally with a throw. Kaisei hung on for dear life but Sadanoumi continued to pivot, throwing his opponent to the clay. Uwatenage.
Myogiryu (8-4) defeated Kotoshogiku (8-4): Bruce’s hunch about Myogiryu win was bankable today. Kotoshogiku drove forward but Myogiryu stepped to the side and then attacked forcing a lethargic Giku into retreat. The third try’s the charm for Myogiryu’s kachi-koshi. Yorikiri.
Terunofuji (11-1) defeated Tamawashi (8-4): Tamawashi wanted an oshi battle. He was determined to have an oshi battle and got his wish. Or rather, he pissed Terunfuji off with constant face slaps. “You are not getting my belt, son.” Terunofuji responded with slaps of his own, “So that’s how you want to play, huh?” He sent Tamawashi reeling across the ring, Terunofuji in full pursuit drove forward one final time shoving Tamawashi out. Yorikiri.
Takayasu (7-5) defeated Ikioi (2-10): Ikioi charged at Takayasu but Takayasu forced Ikioi back to the bales and then threw him back to the middle. Ikioi’s trajectory is Juryo-bound, either September or November. He’s unable to generate much offense. Uwatenage.
Kotoyuki (6-6) defeated Ishiura (4-8): Surprise, surprise, Ishiura henka. Kotoyuki and everyone else in the building, even the screaming kid, were all prepared. Kotoyuki pursued and forced Ishiura out on his butt, halfway up the hanamachi. Oshidashi. “NEXT!”
Shimanoumi (4-8) defeated Chiyotairyu (5-7): Chiyotairyu advanced through Shimanoumi. A strong tachiai there drove his opponent back. Chimanoumi tried a trip but Chiyotairyu countered and brought the pair back into a belt-less grapple in the center of the ring. After singing Chiyotairyu to sleep, Shimanoumi slipped to the side and Chiyotairyu fell forward. Zzzzzzzzz–ukiotoshi.
Terutsuyoshi (6-6) defeated Kotoshoho (7-5): Terutsuyoshi sidestep and leg grab sent Kotoshoho tumbling. Ashitori. Usually those kimarite are fun to watch. Not this one. “NEXT!”
Kotoeko (9-3) defeated Tokushoryu (6-6): Tokushoryu absorbed Kotoeko’s tachiai and advanced. Instead of going straight back to the edge, Kotoeko circled. Perhaps seeing the bout from the other day and noticing Tokushoryu tires after about two laps around the ring, Kotoeko waltzed with his partner for a couple of circuits before gently dumping him off outside the ring. Sukuinage.
Takanosho (6-6) defeated Ryuden (5-7): Takanosho met Ryuden’s forceful tachiai head-on. He didn’t stop there, however. He drove forward into Ryuden, holding his opponent’s head high and forcing him back. Ryuden resisted for a while but could not generate a counter-attack. Takanosho’s offense was unwhithering and he powered Ryuden over the bales. Yorikiri.
Aoiyama (5-7) defeated Onosho (0-12): Onosho is lost. Except for yesterday’s bout, Aoiyama’s schtick is hatakikomi. This is known. Aoiyama retreated at the tachiai and forced Onosho down…down to the ground. Hatakikomi.
Endo (6-6) defeated Takarafuji (4-8): Endo’s powerful tachiai forced Takarafuji back. Endo sustained an oshi attack for a bit before Takarafuji drove forward. Endo resisted, however, countering with a yotsu attack. He got Takarafuji moving backwards with some quality footwork and ushered Isegahama’s heyagashira out. I think Terunofuji wants that status back. Yorikiri.
Yutakayama (2-10) defeated Kiribayama (4-8): Kiribayama deflected Yutakayama to the side. He must have said something about Yutaka Mama because Yutakayama was pissed and after a good brawl, charged forward, launching Kiribayama out. Oshidashi.
Kagayaki (5-7) vs Okinoumi (6-6): Okinoumi met Kagayaki solidly at the tachiai. Okinoumi’s legs churned and churned but he couldn’t get Kagayaki moving backward. So, he sidestepped and Kagayaki rolled along the floor. Tsukiotoshi.
Shodai (9-3) vs Enho (5-7): Shodai has Enho’s number. He let the pixie charge into him and as Enho futilely tried to drive Shodai back, Shodai did his best Kaiju impression. He wrapped up both of Enho’s arms steadily walked forward and bounced Enho into the sixth row, nearly up to the box seats. Kimedashi
Daieisho (8-4) defeated Takakeisho (8-4): Takakeisho’s late but predicable kyujo gifts Daieisho a kachi-koshi. Having cleared his kadoban status, Takakeisho has opted to rest his ailing knee.
Asanoyama (11-1) defeated Hokutofuji (7-5): Everyone tries to separate Asanoyama’s head from his body. It doesn’t come off that easily and usually just serves to irritate the shin-Ozeki. Asanoyama drove forward into Hokutofuji, securing a belt grip despite Hokutofuji’s vigorous defense. Asanoyama was more vigorous in attack and crushed Hokutofuji, burying him in the center of the ring with the squid. Sukuinage.
Mitakeumi (9-3) defeated Hakuho (10-2): No! Harite is a sign that all is not well for the Yokozuna. The confident, dominant master is shaken. However, he drove forward, aggressively into Mitakeumi. Sidestep!!! In a brilliant move, Mitakeumi ducked to the side and the Yokozuna crashed out of the dohyo. Hakuho, visibly limping, needed considerable time to walk back to his post, bow, and head for the exit. I wanted to run out there and give him a hug…but he trudged along the hanamichi, alone. We may be Yokozuna-less heading into the weekend. Tsukiotoshi.
It’s just allergies. I swear! Just allergies…<sniff> now where’s my comfort blanket? Within seconds, we go from having a Champion, leading a newcomer (successor?) and the come-back kid, to…are our champion ranks virtually decapitated? Is the new guy the only one left?
Vincent Price voice: “Tune in tomorrow, kids…if you dare! Ah ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha!“