There were some actual highlight matches today, but I must give special mention to Mitakeumi vs Wakatakakage. That was some fine, strong, and fierce sumo. We minted 4 kachi-koshi today, and one very powerful make-koshi.
My compliments to Takanosho, aka Onigiri-kun, for maintaining his spot at the top of the leader board. While 9-2 is not an overwhelmingly strong score, he is the best of the top division at the end of day 11, and that takes a daily helping of strong sumo. In the remaining 4 days of this basho, I expect that the schedulers will work to put dirt on him at least once more, to draw him down to Terunofuji’s score. As long as the Yokozuna keeps winning, they will work to have Terunofuji contend against Takanosho for the cup at the end of the week, with any of the other rikishi in that group welcome to tag along if they can. I have my eye on Ura, by the way, as a spoiler in this grand parade to the cup.
Yutakayama defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu had a strong start, but could not prevent Yutakayama from getting a nodowa and walking him back. Yutakayama really needed this win, and was able to move forward well enough. He ends the day 5-6.
Chiyoshoma defeats Kotokuzan – Kotokuzan is now the loss leader Natsu. It’s pretty sad given how much effort he put into finally reaching the top division, and he shows up hurt. Chiyoshoma shut down Kotokuzan’s thrusting attacks at the tachiai, and walked him out for a quick win, improving to 5-6.
Nishikigi defeats Meisei – It was chest to chest from the tachiai, and Meisei looked, at first, to be the aggressor. Nishikigi had a solid left hand grip, and used that to keep Meisei from doing much in terms of offense, and then used the leverage from that hand to turn Meisei and run him out of the ring. Both end the day at 5-6.
Okinoumi defeats Midorifuji – The Darwin Funnel continues to do its hideous work. Had Midorifuji won today, he would have escaped from the top end. But Okinoumi was able to set up a double arm bar and kimedashi him out. Okinoumi ends the day 5-6, and Midorifuji at 6-5.
Tochinoshin defeats Azumaryu – Tochinoshin, however, did escape the funnel today with his yorikiri win over Azumaryu. At 7-4 its still possible he will be pulled back into the track for a day 14 7-7 score, but he is fighting well enough that I expect him to get his kachi-koshi in the next 2 days.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoshoho – A thunderous tachiai from Chiyotairyu puts Kotoshoho on his heels, and a second volley sends him stumbling backward. A final thrust from Chiyotairyu finishes him in this 1-2-3 match, a style from Chiyotairyu we have not seen in some time. Chiyotairyu now 7-4, and escapes the funnel.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Myogiryu – Terutsuyoshi leaps to the side at the tachiai, grabs one of Myogiryu’s legs and gets to work. He could not maintain that leg hold, but it was enough for him to get Myogiryu moving. With Terutsuyoshi pushing Myogiryu stepped out of the ring, and Terutsuyoshi staved off make-koshi to improve to 4-7.
Shimanoumi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto’s opening double arm attack had him in control only for a moment, before Shimanoumi rallied, and found a path to return a few thrusts of his own. Catching Ichiyamamoto at an angle, Shimanoumi disrupted his balance, and a second hit put him on the clay, knocking Ichiyamamoto out of the lead. Shimanoumi now 7-4.
Kotoeko defeats Oho – Really big match between these two today, maybe some of the best sumo from both of them so far this basho. Oho put a lot of power into his sumo today, but was unable to overcome Kotoeko’s excellent balance and stability. The final move was a sukuinage from Kotoeko that twisted Oho to the dohyo, and both end the day at 5-6.
Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – I am delighted with the outcome of this match. I had worried it was a “gimmie” life line to Kagayaki to try and help him avoid a make-koshi. But Takarafuji rallied through his injury, put up his strong defense, and found an opening to swat Kagayaki down. Takarafuji improves to 2-9, and may have given himself enough wins to keep a toe hold in the top division for July.
Sadanoumi defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu may have been working from the expectation that if they locked up chest to chest, he might have a bit of time to consolidate his grip. But Sadanoumi is always ahead of schedule, and rapidly griped, lifted and walked Wakamotoharu to the bales, throwing Wakamotoharu (and himself) into the front row. That’s win 8 for Sadanoumi, and he is kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Ura defeats Aoiyama – Really straightforward sumo from Ura today, which I think surprised Aoiyama. Aoiyama had a rather defensive tachiai, and quickly found Ura was at his chest, with a double inside grip. Ura lifted and walked forward for a rapid yorikiri win. That’s kachi-koshi at 8-3 for Ura.
Kiribayama defeats Tobizaru – Shall we make it 3? Why not. Tobizaru made him work for it, as it seemed that Kiribayama was eager to close distance and fight chest to chest, and Tobizaru kept him back. But Kiribayama had a bit of a hold, and kept working to ratchet Tobizaru closer. When Kiribayama’s left hand found a purchase, it was fight on, and he finished Tobizaru with a quick yorikiri, picking up his 8th win, and his kachi-koshi for Natsu.
Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – A moment we knew was coming following day 1, a day foretold on the pages of this very blog, where Hokutofuji reaches what we call “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. Hokutofuji was in the driver’s seat for a good portion of this match, but Takayasu slapped him down mid-attack to deliver his 8th loss. Both end the day 3-8.
Daieisho defeats Kotonowaka – Daieisho set the tone and tempo of this match, even though Kotonowaka had a few moments where he was the aggressor, it was still in the form that Daieisho had dictated, and thrusting match at your opponent’s head and throat. This eventually favored Daieisho, who found an opening and pushed Kotonowaka out, improving to 7-4.
Takanosho defeats Hoshoryu – Happy to see more sumo, less attitude from Hoshoryu today. He gave Takanosho a strong match, but to me it seems that Takanosho had a ready reply to the anticipated attempt at a leg trip, which disrupted Hoshoryu’s balance ever so slightly, and set up Takanosho’s final attack. With the win, Takanosho is in sole possession of the lead at 9-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Mitakeumi – What an excellent match, the two of them really threw everything they could muster into this fight, and the results were fantastic. I could grouse about another Ozeki loss, but that would unnecessarily tarnish the effort of both men. I am a bit worried that it looked like some kind of injury to Mitakeumi’s right leg that brought about an end to that match. Wakatakakage improves to 6-5.
Takakeisho defeats Endo – Takakeisho got to use “his brand of sumo” effectively for the first time in a while. Endo was looking for a frontal trip in the tachiai, and received a full Takakeisho blast amidships. Before he could set his feet, a second volley sent Endo tumbling back and out. Takakeisho improves to 6-5.
Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Hey! Some cartoon sumo today! Kimarite was listed as tsukiotoshi, but I can genuinely ask “What the hell was that?” Not so say there was no Shodai offense, but I swear this guy, at times, just launches parts of his body in random directions and sumo comes out. Today they look to stumble in opposite directions, with Tamawashi falling down first. Ok, it worked! Shodai improves to 4-7 and holds off kadoban for another day.
Terunofuji defeats Abi – Maybe Terunofuji an hold ground for short periods of time. He takes Abi’s initial attack and immediately blasts back. There is no way Abi can hold the Yokozuna back, and Terunofuji runs him out of the ring to hop down into the front row. Terunofuji’s 8th win, and he is kachi-koshi for Natsu.