The triumph of the under-card continues, as the leaders continue to be exclusively from the rank and file. I don’t expect any of them are going to face higher ranking opponents just yet, as I think the schedulers have decided to “let it ride” until day 11 and the start of act 3. There are 4 rikishi at 7-2 right now, and I don’t expect any of them is going to lift the cup on day 15. But if we look at the group that is at 6-3 at the end of today, the list of who might be the yusho winner is quite an interesting roster indeed.
Yesterday, fans were a bit outranged by Shodai’s win after the replay showed him out, but no monoii was called by the judges to review the call. I have accused the bulk of the rikishi of “just phoning it in” this basho, and maybe the judges are having a bit of that too. During a match between Kotonowaka and Hokutofuji, there was yet another call that should have been reviewed when the gyoji got it wrong. I recognize us Americans are used to slow motion instant replay and review of just about everything, but for sumo that is not yet the case. So over the years I have learned to just accept that mistakes are part of the process, and hope it does not happen in yusho deciding matches. But then, there was the matter of Wakatakakage’s hand hitting the clay in the middle of his match with Takakeisho…
Midorifuji defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni had control of this match, following a bit of an early start from Midorifuji. This control lasted up until they moment both were exiting the ring, where Chiyonokuni let go of Midorifuji to break his fall with his left arm. Midorifuji stayed airborne a fraction of a second longer, and picked up the win. He improves to 5-4.
Oho defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan still does not have any sumo to share, and gets stood up at the tachiai by Oho, then rammed back again and again. The final shove ends the match by tsukidashi, and that loss number 8 for Kotokuzan, he is make-koshi for Natsu. Oho improves to 4-5.
Meisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Meisei knew that Chiyotairyu was going for the “stand him up, pull him down” combo, and reacted correctly to the pull from Chiyotairyu. Surging forward he put Chiyotairyu on the clay with a yoritaoshi, sending Chiyotairyu tumbling off the clay. Both end the day at 5-4.
Sadanoumi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki has one moment of offense, a somewhat decent opening combo, but for some reason leaves his chest wide open, and Sadanoumi counters directly to center mass. From there is 3 quick steps to an oshidashi, as Sadanoumi maintains his share of the lead at 7-2.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyoshoma – Ichiyamamoto connects his double arm thrust early, and Chiyoshoma never really had a chance to get started. Three steps later, Chiyoshoma is out and Ichiyamamoto maintains his share of the lead, also 7-2.
Azumaryu defeats Kotoshoho – I liked both men’s sumo today. A really well balanced match, with each finding and exploiting the other’s somewhat fractured offensive style. They started with an oshi-zumo exchange, and probed defenses, and eventually locked up chest to chest. Azumaryu set up a left hand grip, and held on with everything he could muster. Whent Kotoshoho did manage to break that grip, he was so off balance that he was an easy mark for an Azumaryu slap down. Both end the day 5-4.
Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – A clever move by Yutakayama got his left hand around the back of Terutsuyoshi, finding his mawashi knot. The rest of Yutakayama followed, and once behind Terutsuyoshi, he pushed him forward and out. Yutakayama claws his way back into the funnel at 4-5.
Shimanoumi defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu prevented a straight up Shimanoumi attack, stalemating him and moving him to the center of the dohyo. A few separate tries to get some kind of pushing battle going failed, and the two resorted to aggressive leaning on each other. Unable to generate offense with his thrusting attack, eventually Shimanoumi surged forward, then immediately stepped back, unbalancing Myogiryu and slapping him down. He improves to 5-4.
Aoiyama defeats Kotoeko – Aoiyama latched on to Kotoeko at the tachiai, and proceeded to use his mighty bulk to slide Kotoeko around the ring. Kotoeko rallied once, with Aoiyama using Kotoeko’s forward motion to set up the kotenage that won the match. Aoiyama improves to 7-2 and maintains his share of the lead.
Takarafuji defeats Nishikigi – Finally, a Takarafuji win. A soft tachiai from both straight to a Takarafuji left hand inside grip. He moved forward carefully, and walked Nishikigi out. 1-8 for Takarafuji, and I hope he can pick up a few more wins to keep himself in the top division for July.
Tochinoshin defeats Wakamotoharu – As expected, they immediately went chest to chest. A big yotsu battle of strength featured Tochinoshin apply the sky-crane, but unable to carry Wakamotoharu all the way out. With Wakamotoharu’s heels on the tawara, he held on with everything he could muster. Tochinoshin finished the match by falling forward, crushing Wakamotoharu under his 175kg body. Yeah, he felt that. Both end the day 5-4.
Ura defeats Okinoumi – No crazy antics from Ura today. He hits Okinoumi square in the chest, grabs a hold and pushes forward. Okinoumi can’t stop the slide, and finds Ura applying a lift and gentle push to step him out of the ring. Ura improves to 6-3.
Endo defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi got too far forward at the tachiai when Endo came up short. Endo was also able to grab and tug Tamawashi’s right arm, further putting him off balance. With Tamawashi’s chest wide open, Endo blasted him center mass with a 3 hit combo. Tamawashi could not stay in the ring and fell backward into the front row. Tamawashi falls out of the leader group, and Endo stays in the funnel by improving to 4-5.
Kotonowaka defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji gets his early nodowa, and uses it to move Kotonowaka back to the bales. Hokutofuji’s right hand joins in from underneath, and with both hands pushing, he sends Kotonowaka tumbling off the dohyo. The gyoji gives the gumbai to Kotonowaka. The replay showed Kotonowaka’s foot apparently hitting the janome outside the ring well before Hokutofuji touched down. But no review by the shimpan, and Konosuke’s decision was left to stand. This is now 2 days in a row where the judges would have been well advised to review a decision. Kotonowaka improves to 5-4.
Kiribayama defeats Daieisho – Daieisho opened strong, getting a set of good combos into Kiribayama’s chest. Kiribayama was able to rally, and return some offense back at Daieisho. Kiribayama managed a brief arm lock, which he used to turn Daieisho, and a final shove sent him out. Kiribayama improves to 6-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Takayasu – The first ever time that Hoshoryu has beaten Takayasu. Takayasu had the early advantage, with the inside line and good thrusting against Hoshoryu’s chest. At the end of Takayasu’s third combo, Hoshoryu grabs Takayasu’s left arm, and rapidly tugs down and forward in a tottari throw. Takayasu hits the clay, and Hoshoryu improves to 6-3. Nice move.
Shodai defeats Abi – Now in week two, is it once again time for Shodai to decide to get interested in sumo and fight like he is an Ozeki? Abi attacks strongly with his double arm thrust at the tachiai, and Shodai’s upper body is all over the place. But his lower body propels him forward, into Abi and keeps moving. Unable to maintain distance to attack again, Abi is run back by a someone flimsy version of Shodai’s “Wall of Daikon” and succumbs to a rampaging mountain of pasty flab thanks to Shodai’s lower body deciding it’s done being embarrassed by the rest of him and insisting on a win. Shodai improves to 3-6.
Takanosho defeats Mitakeumi – Not sure where Mitakeumi was today, but his sumo was miles away from the Kokugikan. A solid hit from Takanosho at the tachiai put Mitakeumi on his heels, and a rapid conversion to a hazu-oshi by Takanosho let him run the Ozeki out with no struggle or counter attack by Mitakeumi. Takanosho maintains his share of the lead with 7-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho could not generate enough power to move Wakatakakage back to optimum thrusting range. So instead the two exchanged close range slaps and shoves, with Wakatakakage having a slight edge. Where the match fell apart was a Takakeisho pulling attempt that destroyed his balance, but it also seems to have triggered Wakatakakage to touch the clay with his right hand. Of course neither the gyoji nor the shimpan caught it. Wakatakakage then pulled in return, and Takakeisho did not have the stable footing to endure. Wakatakakage improves to 4-5.
Terunofuji defeats Tobizaru – Glad for the Terunofuji win, but Terunofuji looked surprisingly easy for Tobizaru to move. Terunofuji also found it very tough to maintain a hold on Tobizaru, giving him a lot more opportunity for offensive action than I had expected. But Terunofuji eventually gets a firm hold via his preferred twin arm bar, and it was kimedashi time. He lifted Tobizaru off of the clay, and walked him over the bales. Terunofuji improves to 6-3.