Haru Day 8 Highlights

Some fine matches today, but there were a fair set of matta thrown in the mix, as rikishi struggled to get the fight started properly for some reason. I am really starting to think that Wakatakakage has made a step change to his sumo, and I think we will see double digits this tournament, which is a ringing achievement for his first time as Sekiwake. If he can up his consistency, I see him being considered for Ozeki before too long.

In the world of Ozeki, I have to note that Shodai won today. I am not sure where he found the energy given his condition, but I hope he can tap it again 5 more times. He needs to win 5 of the remaining 7 matches to survive as Ozeki. Its a tough road to be certain, and a healthy Shodai could do it, heck, Sekiwake Shodai could do it. But going into week 2, we get to see him try. Good luck sir, it will be quite the achievement if you can make it happen.

Highlight Matches

Azumaryu defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan had a strong opening, and completely dominated Azumaryu, until the moment that Kotokuzan decided “and now I pull you down!”. That would have been bad enough, but then Azumaryu pulls in response, giving control back to Kotokuzan, who proceeds to (you guessed it) pull. Would one of you two just do forward sumo? That last pull was all the universe was willing to tolerate, and Kotokuzan took a shove to the chest and left the dohyo. Azumaryu improves to 6-2.

Tochinoshin defeats Yutakayama – A 5th consecutive loss for Yutakayama today. I have to wonder if he hurt something against Kotoshoho on day 3. Tochinoshin won with a few really strong thrusts, and is once again defying expectations. Good for you sir. He is now 5-3.

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – Hey, Kagayaki, what was that? You launched from the shikiri-sen well enough, but where were your hands? Chiyomaru took advantage of the chaos to bundle up Kagayaki, and escort him to the exit. Both finish the day 4-4.

Kotoeko defeats Nishikigi – Kotoeko continues his absolute dominance over Nishikigi, now at 5-0 over their career. Nishikigi started well, but once Kotoeko got his grip, it was time for Nishikigi to go for a backwards walk. Both end the day 5-3.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyotairyu – To my eye that should have been a matta, but the gyoji had them fight it out, which is how it should be. Robbed of his tachiai, Chiyotairyu had little to offer in this match. He was unable to capitalize on Ichiyamamoto’s pull, and was quickly thrust out. Both are now 3-5.

Akua defeats Myogiryu – We have not seen Akua fight with this much vigor in a while. He was still a bit of a mess, but he kept Myogiryu in front of him, and focused his strength on forward motion, and effective tsuppari. This is only the second win of the basho for Akua, and I am glad he was able to put it together, he’s now 2-6 for Haru.

Kotoshoho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s day off thanks to Chiyonokuni’s kyujo did not seem to help his sumo. He was very low at the tachiai, and never quite recovered from that. Immediately on defense, Terutsuyoshi withered under Kotoshoho’s attacks. Kotoshoho improves to 5-3.

Chiyoshoma defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama started with a big forearm blast, which did not deter Chiyoshoma from setting him a mawashi grip and getting into “his brand of sumo”. He struggled a bit against Aoiyama’s ponderous bulk, but maintained a commanding hold that eventually Aoiyama broke. I am not sure if Aoiyama was trying some kind of escape, but he turned away from Chiyoshoma, and that was all it took for an okuridashi win for Chiyoshoma. Both end the day 3-5.

Shimanoumi defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi opened strong at the tachiai, but Shimanoumi’s ottsuke shut down Sadanoumi’s attempt to establish a grip. Shimanoumi rallied, focused his force forward and drove Sadanoumi from the ring, improving to 4-4. Not sure what has Sadanoumi in poor condition, but I hope he can bounce back in May.

Takayasu defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu is a fine yotsu-zumo practitioner, and for reasons on he can explain, he decided to engage in a stamina check with Takayasu. In fairness, it was his first time fighting Takayasu, and the fellow can be forgiven for wanting to find out for himself. Takayasu was in a bit of a hurry today, so he only stood Wakamotoharu up for about 20 seconds before finding a hand hold and delivering a hearty uwatenage. Takayasu remains undefeated at 8-0, the first man to reach kachi-koshi, and the sole leader. He faces Aoiyama on day 9, who is in no condition to present much of a challenge.

Hokutofuji defeats Tobizaru – The first match was a bast, a wild ranging battle that ended with a mutual throw and both men hitting the clay together. The gumbai went to Hokutofuji, but the monoii called for a rematch. The second go was no less energetic, but it was a bit more controlled. Tobizaru’s lateral moves kept Hokutofuji adjusting, his sumo, unable to finish Tobizaru, but Tobizaru seemed to tire, inviting Hokutofuji to finish him off with an oshidashi. Both end the day at 4-4.

Takarafuji defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi had a solid hold, good body position, but could neither generate forward pressure or hold his ground when Takarafuji advanced. So I am going to ascribe Okinoumi’s terrible 1-7 record to injury, which is a shame. Takarafuji gets his second win and improves to 2-6.

Kotonowaka defeats Endo – Woa! First ever win for Kotonowaka over Endo. I know Endo is hit or miss, but this is a noteworthy milestone. Kotonowaka blocked his grip attempts, and was able to deliver a lot of forward energy into Endo’s body. By the time Endo got organized, he was out of the ring, and into the front row. Kotonowaka advances to 7-1.

Tamawashi defeats Meisei – For a brief moment, it looked like Tamawashi was going for the “arm breaker”, but he thankfully let Meisei go. Meisei was offering little defense and almost no offense, and it was Tamawashi’s win, improving to 4-4.

Ichinojo defeats Takanosho – The big difference of Ichinojo this basho from, say, a year ago is patience. We have seen Ichinojo wait out opponents, work his way through sub-optimal position and partially effective combos to win matches. Today is a great example of this. Takanosho comes in strong, but can’t quite find any kind of grip, and spends a good amount of time getting himself into a workable position. Ichinojo maintains control of the match the whole time, where a younger version would have prematurely moved to end the fight. He takes his time, looks for the best chance, and then calmly finishes Takanosho off. Ichinojo improves to 5-3.

Wakatakakage defeats Ura – Ura is really struggling at this rank, and needs to adjust his sumo to the high grade rikishi we currently enjoy in the joi-jin. I will hold up Wakatakakage as a shining example of that, this guy is tack sharp and really fighting well. Ura is unable to find any advantage, or any route to get a hold of Wakatakakage in a meaningful way. Wakatakakage finishes off Ura with a yorikiri, and advances to 7-1.

Abi defeats Daieisho – Abi effectively got Daieisho to dial up the forward pressure, then stepped clear as Daieisho pushed forward. A bit of an Abi shove from behind and Daieisho is out, and Abi is 6-2.

Shodai defeats Kiribayama – Maybe there is hope for Shodai after all. I am not sure where that came from, but I was delighted to see it. Kiribayama got the better of the tachiai, and had a winning grip from the first step. I think Shodai can still access some of his “cartoon sumo” because in the blink of an eye, Kiribayama went from having a firm hold to being tossed out of the ring. 3-5 for Shodai now.

Mitakeumi defeats Hoshoryu – I give Hoshoryu points for enthusiasm, but look at Mitakeumi’s instant hazu-oshi attack before the tachiai finishes. With that much power straight into Hoshoryu’s armpits, he was an easy mark for a fast finish, and Mitakeumi moved him to the side and tossed him out. Mitakeumi remains one behind Takayasu at 7-1.

Takakeisho defeats Onosho – Great to see these two hit with such power at the tachiai. It was a slight edge to Onosho, but Takakeisho’s match plan was to exploit Onosho’s poor balance on the second step, and it worked a treat. Onosho topples, and Takakeisho improves to 6-2, two more wins to clear kadoban.

8 thoughts on “Haru Day 8 Highlights

  1. 8 days in and I believe we know the following:
    Mitakeumi – looking sharp and may well be on a Yokozuna run
    Takakeisho – his opponents still use stupid sumo tactics against him and so he rolls on
    Shodai – got to the end of his rope, tied a knot, and is hanging on for dear Ozeki life. He needs to go 5-2 down the stretch to retain his rank and I double he’s up to it as he still has to face both his fellow Ozeki neither of whom will let up as they’re in the yusho race. Tough sledding ahead to get to his 8 wins.
    Takanosho/Ura – both have been exposed as one or two hit wonders, neither is an elite talent, both will yo-yo up and down banzuke between Sekiwake and M8.
    Takayasu (The Bear) – he’s healthy, on his game, and a joy to watch
    Wakatakakage – legit and part of the future of the sport I hope
    Hoshoryu – needs to gain a few more kilos of muscle and slow down just a little to control his matches. However, he’s holding his own and should get to 8 wins and retain his rank
    Abi – reborn and a much better wrestler, should make Ozeki before the end of this year
    Ichinojo – continues to frustrate his fans. He’s either on and uses his size and skill to win or just quits mid-match and waltzes out of the ring.

    • I think you are a bit rude on Takanosho. He might not be someone going on an Ozeki run, but in the 9 tournaments since november 2020 he spent 6 in Sanyaku and the other 3 either at M1 or M2. He is only 27, he might actually still be able to make another step. This basho just something is off with his sumo. I think he can definitely become a sanyaku stable. His records against the top guys arent bad.
      I also doubt Abi will make Ozeki. Like in his first stint people will adjust to his style. He might stabilize in Sanyaku for a while thought, as the current crop is just not as strong as before.

  2. I love how Tobizaru comes out smiling from a spirited bout even when he loses – looks like he’s thinking, “Well, that was fun.” Enho used to look heartbroken every time he lost.

    • It reminds me of early Asanoyama, he was always happy before and after a match. It was as if he could not believe his good fortune to be competing among the greats. That seemed to fade once he made Ozeki, and then his hubris made him a chump, and he is gone. At least for now. Maybe the joyful rikishi will be the one who returns. He was a great motivation to many.

    • I saw that too, and Hokutofuji gave him a pat on the shoulder after helping him back up the dohyo. They both seemed to have really enjoyed their fight.

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