I am happy to note that the intensity of the sumo continues to move a notch higher with each passing day. The work to begin a “Darwin Funnel” worked a treat, and a unthinkable 22 rikishi are 3-4 or 4-3 at the end of day 7. The goal now is to have those 22 remain locked in battle against each other for the next 7 days to deliver as many of them to 7-7 scores at the end of next Saturday, setting up a roster of “Darwin Matches” to decide a winning or losing record for each.
The Ozeki continue to be a worry, and it’s pretty much a given now that at least two of them are likely to end up kadoban for Nagoya. Shodai, specifically, is 1-6, and could be make-koshi as early as Monday if he continues to lose each day. With tonight’s day 8 preview, we will take our first look at the Natsu leader board, and right now it’s a real head scratcher, with two guys from the middle third of the banzuke in command of the race.
Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – For this match, Kagayaki did not get the inside lane for his hands, or really very good position at all in the tachiai. As a result, Chiyomaru controlled this match start to finish, and made quick work moving him out of the ring. At Juryo 1, Chiyomaru can likely make it back to the top division with a simple 8 win kachi-koshi. He improves to 5-2.
Oho defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama has now lost 5 in a row. Injury? Loss of focus? Contagious malaise that he picked up from training with Shodai? Today’s match against Oho turned into a genuine brawl, with these guys trading blows to the face, and they kept dialing up the power. After each gave the other a proper thumping, they collapsed chest to chest to hug it out. Oho proved to have the deeper reserve of stamina, the win taking him to 3-4.
Meisei defeats Kotokuzan – Meisei picks up his 3rd win, but it was against winless Kotokuzan, who is now 0-7. Meisei was strong, focused and delivered maximum force center mass. Meisei now 3-4.
Chiyotairyu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto started early with a double arm thrust, that left him too far forward. Chiyotairyu read it well, and immediately gave Ichiyamamoto a powerful tug, to send him to the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 4-3.
Midorifuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opened with a thunderous forearm.. push? As he was marching forward, Midorifuji ducked behind and sent him off the dohyo with an uwatedashinage. Both end the day at 4-3, and are very much in the funnel to start day 8.
Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – The big match, where the last undefeated rikishi put his lead on the line. No really, these guys are Maegashira 11 and 12 respectively, and when we take our first look at the yusho race to start day 8, they are in the lead. Where it went wrong of Aoiyama was his focus on pulling Sadanoumi down or forward. It gave him ample opportunity to set up for a big push in response, and a well times burst of power sent Aoiyama over the bales for his first loss of Natsu. Both end the day at 6-1.
Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Both had solid position chest to chest following the tachiai, but Azumaryu was set up a bit better, and slowly worked his way to set up the uwate hold, which he eventually consolidated. From there it was a pivot to send Nishikigi hopping over the tawara, and an Azumaryu win to improve to 4-3.
Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – Chiyoshoma’s win knocks both rikishi back into the funnel for Sunday. This match was all Chiyoshoma, who took control at the tachiai, and immediately walked Shimanoumi back for a quick win. Both end the day 3-4.
Tochinoshin defeats Kotoeko – This was a Kotoeko match until Tochinoshin found his left hand outside grip. Kotoeko was pouring on a lot of forward power, so Tochinoshin did not try to trap him and set up the lift, he simply used that left hand to swing Kotoeko around and into the front row cushions. Both end the day at 4-3 and are in the funnel.
Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Grim times for Takarafuji, he has yet to win a single match, and is 0-7 after today. Takarafuji actually showed some strong offense today, but fell to a side step / slap down combo at the bales moments before he could push Okinoumi out. Okinoumi improves to 3-4.
Kotoshoho defeats Wakamotoharu – Yeah, he lost today, but when Wakamotoharu can get into yotsu form during a match, he is really surprisingly good. His challenge today was that his hips were too high, and he let Kotoshoho attack from underneath. Wakamotoharu did rally, and the final step saw both men crash out of the dohyo together. A monoii was called, and the win went to Kotoshoho. Both end the day 4-3.
Ura defeats Terutsuyoshi – An almost comical battle of the super low, they fought nearly bent double at times. Ura was able to connect and transmit power to Terutsuyoshi, and eventually worked him out of the ring with an oshidashi. Ura improves to 4-3.
Takanosho defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru misses out on his chance to once again share the lead by letting Takanosho get underneath, and not being able to set his feet for defense. Maybe there was a pull in there too. Takanosho has now won 4 in a row, and finishes the day 5-2.
Takayasu defeats Kotonowaka – Takayasu gets his second win of the basho, he gets a clear path to Kotonowaka’s chest, and just thrusts repeatedly at center-mass. Kotonowaka has no chance to defend, and gets moved back, then out. Takayasu improves to 2-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Abi – An Abi yotsu match? I like the variety, yes indeed! But Hoshoryu’s got the better grip, and is in lower. So this is all Hoshoryu, and he makes fairly quick work of Abi. The win takes Hoshoryu to 5-2 going into the middle day of the basho.
Kiribayama defeats Wakatakakage – Kiribayama continues to have Wakatakakage’s number, dropping him to the clay in the second volley with a hatakikomi. Not sure if the Kiribayama matta was part of the set up for that combo, but it worked a treat. Kiribayama advances to 4-3, both remain in the funnel.
Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi misses out on his chance to co-own the lead going into day 8 when he catches Takakeisho’s second combo full in the chest. There is a nice attempt at a head and neck combo from Tamawashi, but it fails to really find it’s mark. Takakeisho picks up a much needed win to improve to 4-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Shodai – Its been a while since we saw Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai, and it went straight into a right hand nodowa. Shodai, who was never low at the tachiai, then found himself raised up, then off balance, then pushed out from the size. Another day of crummy sumo from Shodai, I just have to wonder what is happening with the guy. Hokutofuji advances to 2-5.
Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi could not prevent Daieisho’s mega-thrust attack low and inside. He was able to get a couple of blocks up, but once he conceded the initiative to Daieisho, it was only going to end one way. Daieisho ends the day 5-2.
Terunofuji defeats Endo – Big, strong opening move from Endo. For all intents, he had Terunofuji a step away from losing, but the Yokozuna rallied, and battled back to the center of the dohyo. He caught Endo with poor body position, and dropped him to the clay. A close one for Terunofuji, but it still counts as a win. Terunofuji now 5-2.