It’s the first day of act 2 of the Natsu basho, and it’s clear there is a sharp battle brewing among the san’yaku for the cup. But it seems your shikona must begin with a “T” to participate this time around. For those of you not familiar with the Tachiai notion of basho “acts”, act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned.
For the sixth straight day, Terunofuji continues to demonstrate he is, while his poor knees last, the most powerful man on the dohyo. Watching his sumo mechanics, there is almost nothing to fault. When you layer in his physical challenges, it’s quite remarkable that he is able to perform at this level. We have yet to start the series where the Ozeki face each other, and I suspect we will see some powerful matches next week. But until then, Terunofuji is the man to beat.
Chiyomaru defeats Tokushoryu – Tokushoryu opens with a standup tachiai, and the two very gingerly engage in some close quarters shoving. With them chest to chest, Tokushoryu pulls Chiyomaru while he has a hold on Chiyomaru’s mawashi. Not sure what he had in mind there. Chiyomaru improves to 4-2.
Kaisei defeats Akua – Akua repeatedly invited Kaisei to over-extend and get off balance, but Kaisei stays centered and pressing ahead. Akua is clearly suffering this basho, and takes his 5th loss while Kaisei improves to 4-2.
Ishiura defeats Daiamami – Ishiura continues to look solid. He took a piece of Daiamami’s arm early and used it with great effect. I really liked the mini death-spin to finish the match as he loaded Daiamami up with rotational energy. Ishiura now at 4-2.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kotonowaka – Chiyotairyu was all over the kimarite diagrams in this match. I tend to call this a “Daiso Match”, as there is a bit of everything in it. I think he tried a piece of nearly everything as he waggled and jumbled his way to a messy, but welcome victory. For Kotonowaka’s part he kept things focused and moving forward. But he was not quite ready for Chiyotairyu rescue move at the bales, and took a trip to the zabuton. Chiyotairyu improves to 4-2.
Chiyoshoma defeats Akiseyama – Another Daiso match, as Chiyoshoma cycles through a lot of sumo, starting with a henka. Akiseyama is genuinely looking worse for wear this basho, and I think he should try to keep his losses away from double digits if he can. Chiyoshoma improves to 3-3
Kotoeko defeats Tamawashi – The first time ever for Kotoeko to win over Tamawashi. As is sometimes the case, Tamawashi became fixated on his opponents face and shoulders, leaving his body wide open for counter-attack. It did not take long for Kotoeko to find his mark and apply the pressure, sending Tamawashi hopping out. Both end the day 4-2.
Okinoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi really can’t muster the power this basho to pull in the wins for some reason. Okinoumi boxes him up early, and Terutsuyoshi finds he can’t manuver enough to set up any moves. Moments later Okinoumi implodes Terutsuyoshi’s attempt at an ipponzeoi and brings him to the clay. Okinoumi improves to 4-2.
Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki gets an early advantage, but once the two are chest to chest, Tochinoshin is able to consolidate his hold just as Kagayaki’s advance runs out of power. This is the wrong position to be in with Tochinoshin, who finds the strength and stability to lift and shift Kagayaki, and moves him a piece at a time out of the ring. Both end the day at 2-4.
Shimanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji missed a lateral shift by Shimanoumi, and found himself with Shimanoumi flanking him. Unable to do much to resist the pressure from the rear, Shimanoumi made the trip out of the ring quick. Shimanoumi improves to 3-3.
Tsurugisho defeats Hidenoumi – Tsurugisho had a good tachiai, finding a left hand shallow grip, which he converted into a Terunofuji style double arm bar. That’s only the second win of this basho for Tsurugisho, maybe with act 1 out of the way his ring rust has been addressed and he will start to win.
Ichinojo defeats Endo – I have to wonder why we don’t see this form of Ichinojo more frequently. Endo was, of course, quite precise in his attack plan, but when Ichinojo is fighting well there are quite a bit fewer things that will actually work. Both finish today at 4-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Onosho – Wakatakakage expertly uses Onosho’s mega-push tendency to encourage him to over extend. By the second step, Onosho is already so far forward over his toes that Wakatakakage only needs to release pressure and step to the side to send Onosho to his second loss. Both end the day at 4-2.
Meisei defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji will likely continue in this mode until his 8th loss, at which point he will will all of his remaining matches. I like how Meisei stays compact, keeps his body organized while Hokutofuji thrashes about. Hokutofuji is capable of excellent balance, but he was not able to put it to work today. While Meisei improves to 2-4, Hokutofuji continues to work towards the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo.
Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – These two have a history of over 20 matches against each other, and they are well aware of how the other’s “brand of sumo” works. This resulted in a see-saw match where each man would attack and gain advantage, just to lose it moments later. The match ended with a mutual uwatenage that looked terribly close to myself. The gyoji gave it to Takayasu, and that will probably do just fine as he improves to 5-1.
Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Its great to watch Daieisho dump in about 15% more power into each thrust in this match, as these two traded double arm shoves from the tachiai. Takanosho stands up to the attacks for a time, but Daieisho overwhelms is defenses. Once Takanosho is moving, it’s three steps to the edge and Daieisho drives him out of the ring. Both end the day a 3-3.
Kiribayama defeats Asanoyama – Kiribayama beat Asanoyama in a mawashi battle today. This really gives me a worry that Asanoyama has some problem or injury. Kiribayama owned this match with the brief exception of a few moments when Asanoyama was finally able to consolidate his grip. But Kiribayama kept his cool and worked Asanoyama into a tight spot and dropped him with an uwatenage. Kiribayama improves to 2-4.
Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu has been slowly making his way up the banzuke, and is now at the bottom edge of the joi-jin, and is eligible to face an Ozeki. Sadly for Hoshoryu that Ozeki is currently the most powerful man in sumo. Hoshoryu is mechanically sound, but he lacks the size and power to really make it effect Terunofuji in any meaningful way. Terunofuji remains undefeated at 6-0.
Myogiryu defeats Shodai – Today, Shodai’s soft tachiai cost him the match. Myogiryu got inside, attacked center mass, and it was 3 steps to the bales. Shodai did not even have enough space or energy by the time he got to the edge to even try any rescue moves, and stepped out. Myogiryu improves to 2-4.
Takakeisho defeats Tobizaru – Really nice to watch Takakeisho go on the attack today. Tobizaru has a solid oshi-zumo catalog, but it does him no good today. I am not sure what kind of music Takakeisho listens to, but watch his thrusting attacks take on a different rhythm today from yesterday. It was some kind of rapid, poly-rhythmic death metal today, if you ask me. Bappity-bappity-bappity-whoom!