Youth vs Experience
We’re going to start today’s Jonokuchi coverage, with the Gaia/Nakaishi bout. Gaia’s aggressive Day 1 win against a fellow recruit earned him a bout against the more experienced Nakaishi. Nakaishi, as discussed last time, is a seven-year veteran who’d been steadily working his way up the banzuke before injury and long kyujo sent him back down to Jonokuchi. By Kakkai standards, he is not that big at 138.5kg but he’s just about double Gaia’s 70kg. As Nakaishi squatted, he looked over at Gaia, disapprovingly, as if to say, “C’mon, kid, don’t pull some henka.” He’s experienced and ready, so at the initial charge his first blast shoved Gaia straight back, clear to the tawara. Then, as he went in for the second, finishing, blast…he’s too high.
Gaia dipped low and Nakaishi’s thrust met nothing but air. Gaia reached for the front of the belt with the left, pivoted and locked his right hand on the knot of Nakaishi’s mawashi, and he pushed from behind with all of his might. But it was not enough to force his opponent out. Nakaishi twisted at the edge, and struggled to recover and force his way back to the center. He was still too high but he was able to lock onto Gaia’s right arm. Just then Gaia yanked with that left hand, dumping Nakaishi in the middle of the ring.
Looks like we almost got a fist pump there but Gaia maintains his composure and collects himself. I really hope one day he collects a few kensho envelopes. It’s an absolutely stunning bout, and the scrawny victor’s sigh of relief as he accepts his win is priceless. But the fact is, here, GAIA dominated this match and I’m just tickled.
Are You Sure This is Jonokuchi?
Next up we’ve got my pick for the Jonokuchi yusho, Raiho. He took on Chiyoshishi, who has half a basho worth of experience under his belt. Looks like it was a very good day for Chiyoshishi, and another excellent grapple way down here in Jonokuchi, that’s for sure. Again, Raiho went for the patented Hakuho slap at the tachiai but it barely registered with Chiyoshishi as he quickly wrapped up Raiho under the arms and pitched him to the right.
Raiho recovered but Chiyoshishi is in pursuit and cornered his prey at the edge of the ring. Both wrap up, left-hand-inside. As Raiho pushed back to center, Chiyoshishi shifted to get a firm, two-handed belt grip and lifted. This drove Raiho backward and as he struggled to regain control, he tried a last ditch trip with his right leg. But Chiyoshishi continued to press forward and fall through Raiho. Poor Raiho. You can hear his breath leaving him as they hit the clay.
Oh Yeah, This is Jonokuchi
Another winner bracket bout is Tigerboy’s pick, Inoue. A little about Inoue since he now has a better shot at the yusho than my pick. His favorite kimarite is hatakikomi. He may actually be able to out-Abi Abi. He’s so proficient with it that he has won 28 bouts by hatakikomi, 20 by oshidashi. While Abi plays the hatakikomi game, too, Abi has won more bouts by oshidashi than hatakikomi. Anyway, today, Inoue was paired against Wakayahara…who fell over backwards after one shove. Yeah, this is Jonokuchi all right. We’re in the right place.
Wakayutaka had a much more challenging bout against Sonoshun, with the two having a brief waltz as they each held onto each others’ shoulders and danced around the dohyo. Wakayutaka’s method was to press firmly but then attempt a slap down, with Sonoshun mostly just trying to remain on his feet. Sonoshun turned one time too many, however, and got caught too close to the edge. Wakayutaka bulled forward, sending both men sprawling off the dohyo and into the shimpan’s lap. Wakayutaka by oshitaoshi.
Goseiryu completely outmatched Yoshinofuji. Goseiryu charged forward aggressively, latched onto his opponent’s mawashi and spun him around. Panicked, Yoshinofuji spun back around and grabbed out into space while Goseiryu dug his head firmly into Yoshinofuji’s chest and drove home. Yorikiri.
Ishihara is a belt-obsessive and locked in from the tachiai but Kawamura was too powerful and won by yorikiri. Daitenshin and Azumayama provided a spirited oshi-style bout, quickly decided by Daitenshin thrusting Azumayama to the clay, tsukiotoshi. And finally, with a gentle caress of Kyonosato, Daishojo was able to spin the YouTube star to the ground.
So, I’m very excited for this yusho race, even though my pick lost very early. We’ll see if an easier schedule plays to his favor. Meanwhile, Gaia is undefeated.