With day 6 behind us, we launch into the middle weekend. Looking across the scoreboard, it’s going to be terribly temping for the schedulers to at least try to funnel the 13 rikishi with 3-3 records, with a further 9 at 2-4. A funnel, or “Darwin’s Funnel” would be to keep everyone at the make/kachi-koshi line fighting each other, with the hopes of enforcing the maximum number of them to a day 14 7-7 score. This happens by scheduling them only to fight each other, and working the career records and relative health into the mix. They did it with great effect in Nagoya, and tried it in September but could not keep the group herded together in the middle.
Kaisei defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru could not get an effective thrust rhythm established. He went instead for a couple of shoulder pushes and a brief nodowa. Kaisei endured the attack and worked to get his hands around Chiyomaru’s body, and then walked him out. Simple, effective. Kaisei improves to 3-3.
Abi defeats Sadanoumi – Not sure anyone at the bottom of the banzuke is going to get dirt on Abi, and we may wait until the broader rank gaps seen in act 3 for him to get his first loss. Traditional Abi-zumo double hand attack to start, I liked Sadanoumi’s grab-and-tug counter attack, well done! With Sadanoumi in control for a few brief moments, he rushes forward to push Abi out. Now moving backward, Abi torques Sadanoumi’s neck and flips him down and over the bales. Wow.. Abi perfect at 6-0.
Kagayaki defeats Shohozan – Well, at least I got to see Shohozan deliver a face slap to someone. But after that it was all Kagayaki. Kagayaki has a clear route to Shohozan’s upper body, and cranked up the power. It was more than Shohozan could endure, and he stepped over the tawara. Kagayaki joins the 3-3 group.
Chiyonokuni defeats Tochinoshin – Chiyonokuni skillfully keeps separation, but finds he can’t shoulder-shove Tochinoshin around in any way. Tochinoshin had control of this match, but decided to try and pull not once but twice. Each time he ceded his defensive position, and Chiyonokuni took him back. Chiyonokuni finishes his with a double hand shove to add to the 3-3 crowd.
Ishiura defeats Akua – After Akua primed the system by launching early once for a matta, hey – why not? Ishiura leaps to the side for a henka, and picks up his 3rd win, and joins team 3-3.
Chiyotairyu defeats Yutakayama – Chiyotairyu: stand him up, slap him down. When he’s in that groove, he can rack up the wins. Not much sumo from Yutakayama today. Chiyotairyu advances to 4-2.
Kotonowaka defeats Aoiyama – Color me surprised and delighted, Kotonowaka picks up his second win. He shifts right against Aoiyama’s tachiai, and works to keep his balance and focus in the ensuing thrusting attack. By the 4th step, Aoiyama drops his guard for some reason, and Kotonowaka attack neck and shoulders, getting Aoiyama on the move. A big shove, and Big Dan is out! Kotonowaka improves to 2-4, Aoiyama is another at 3-3.
Hidenoumi defeats Hokutofuji – Second day in a row where Hokutofuji is struggling with his balance. He does seem to go phases where he is frequently off balance, and I do hope this is not that time. Hidenoumi works the defensive sumo well today, and seizes the second moment that Hokutofuji is too far forward, and drops him to the clay with a hatakikomi. 4-2 for both.
Tobizaru defeats Terutsuyoshi – A super low tachiai from both, and in the resulting battle crouch, a Tobizaru pull attempt gets Terutsuyoshi turned. Tobizaru does not hesitate when presented with Terutsuyoshi’s back side, and pushes with maximum force. The two dash for the East side, and take a tour of the zabuton section moments later. To paraphrase the great Murray Johnson, that left hand is a bit of a worry… Terutsuyoshi joins the 3-3 ranks, Tobizaru 4-2.
Shimanoumi defeats Kotoeko – This battle of the doomed ends with the hapless Kotoeko remaining winless as well. Its not like Kotoeko is not fighting with gusto and skill, but he finds a way to lose each day. Today Shimanoumi twisted him down into the clay. They called it tsukiotoshi, but it was a bit more involved than that. Shimanoumi gets his first win and advances to 1-5.
Ura defeats Takayasu – Last time we saw these two fight, Ura limped off the dohyo with what may have been the start of his knee trouble. Takayasu kept him at arm’s length today, with Ura launching cautions probing attacks. Unable to grab and tug any portion of Takayasu’s arms, Ura picks a gap in Takayasu’s defense and grabs a knee, and the ashitori upends the former ozeki with great effect. Ura improves to 5-1. I want to see him fight Shodai this month. Please oh please.
Hoshoryu defeats Chiyoshoma – What a great match. I continue to be surprised that Chiyoshoma had such great sumo mechanics when he was a henka merchant for so long. He was a bit over extended at the tachiai, and that left him high as he landed a right hand on Hoshoryu’s neck, which allowed Hoshoryu to duck and lunge in, setting up a right hand inside grip. Chiyoshoma used a trick body slap leg trip combo that missed, Hoshoryu countered with a throw attempt. Neither man could overwhelm the other, and they locked up in the center of the ring. Hoshoryu’s second try at a leg trip succeeded, and he dropped Chiyoshoma with a resounding kirikaeshi. Chiyoshoma goes to 3-3, Hoshoryu gets his second win to end the day 2-4.
Tamawashi defeats Endo – Endo’s opening combo saw him try for both left and right hand frontal grips in succession, and he was wide open to Tamawashi’s thrusting attack. The initial Tamawashi grab and turn converted into a left hand nodowa, and a fast trip across the bales for Endo. He joins team 3-3 as Tamawashi improves to 5-1.
Onosho defeats Wakatakakage – I am struggling to see what Onosho did differently today to pick up his first win, and frankly I can’t see it. But he got Wakatakakage moving, kept up the pressure, and sent Wakatakakage out. Shonichi of Onosho at 1-5.
Kiribayama defeats Ichinojo – Kiribayama connected at the tachiai with his left hand to Ichinojo’s blue mawashi, and held on with everything he could muster. Ichinojo knew that he could wait, as Kiribayama lacked the brute strength to move him if he kept his stance wide and his weight centered. So they wait, but Kiribayama summons a burst of power, raises Ichinojo up, and swings him down with an uwatedashinage for his first win. He improves to 1-5.
Mitakeumi defeats Myogiryu – Sloppy sumo from Mitakeumi today. A shift at the tachiai, and a big pull paid off, but it was messy and risky stuff. Mitakeumi advances to 5-1.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – A twofer match, as Daieisho disrupts Meisei’s balance and drops him on the third step. Both men end the day with 3-3, and join the growing crowd in the middle of the scoreboard.
Takanosho defeats Shodai – Shodai let Takanosho blast into him, push him back to the bales, and them tried a weak neck pull. But Shodai could not keep airborne quite long enough, and a monoii declared a rematch. The second fight saw a bit more fight from Shodai, but once again Takanosho had control of the match from the start. Another exit from Shodai with a rescue move, but this one was not close enough to elicit a monoii, and Takanosho took the win. Both finish with matching 3-3 records, and the ranks of the middle score swell. Three syllables for Shodai, if I could: “Oh – zeh – key”, we know you can do it, please make it so before I start calling you shin-Goeido.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji did not seem to really know what to do after the first double arm blast, and it was over in 3 steps. Takakeisho remains perfect at 6-0, Takarafuji sadly gets in the 3-3 queue.
Terunofuji defeats Okinoumi – I was really impressed with Okinoumi’s defense at the start of this match. I think he guessed the longer he could keep Terunofuji away from his belt, the greater his chances to find an opening at attack. But the Yokozuna is very patient, and just inched his way to a working grip. You can see the match change the moment he gets it, as he lifts and walks Okinoumi out. 6-0 perfect score of Terunofuji to close day 6.