What the hell was that? Chief gyoji Shikimori Inosuke has long been on my list of people who are not quite up to the task. Today he made an outrageous choice to stop the match between Terunofuji and Wakamotoharu at a pivotal moment of action because he was concerned that Wakamotoharu’s mawashi was loose. Folks may say that Inosuke should retire, but that would move Kimura Tamajiro up, and he’s even more of a shambles in my book. On the match mechanics, I do think that Terunofuji was honestly enjoying that match with Wakamotoharu, and was giving him a good and balanced battle with the intent of throwing him down once he had finished showing him how it’s done. Herouth goes into more detail in the post below this one, and it’s worth the read.
There is still no leaderboard, as Ichinojo lost today. There are seven rikishi at 6-2, one win outside the top end of funnel, who may in fact compete for the cup in the upcoming week. I think that by the end of act 2 on Tuesday, it should be clear who is going to be in contention heading into the final five days.
On more troubling news, an additional stable is now COVID-kyujo, Naruto. This Omicron variant is quite virulent, and given that we now have 2 stables turning up cases mid-basho may indicate that everyone is going to need to test for the next few days.
Onosho defeats Daishoho – A bit of an early start by Onosho, but he gets a couple of big pushes against Daishoho’s chest and moves him directly out. He may have been waiting for a matta on that tachiai, or a monoii on stepping out, but it was official. Onosho improves to 5-3 by oshidashi.
Oho defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s over reliance on pulling his opponents costs him matches like these. He had multiple tries, none of them were well placed or timed. Each time he pulled again Oho, he gave up advantage, so he lost this a piece at a time. Oho eventually got workable hand placement with a double inside grip, and marched Chiyomaru out to improve to 5-3 by yorikiri.
Myogiryu defeats Daiamami – Daiamami opens strong into Myogiryu’s hit and shift to the left. For the first few moments, Daiamami is in charge working his way toward a win. But Myogiryu manages to get a right hand inside just before Daiamami can press for the finish, Myogiryu rallies and drives Daiamami out to advance to 5-3 by oshidashi.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Tsurugisho – Ichiyamamoto continues his absolute dominance over Tsurugisho, expanding his career record to 5-0. Tsurugisho had a strong open, but as soon as Ichiyamamoto started to really, Tsurugisho unwisely tried to pull, and Ichiyamamoto surged forward to attack. Ichiyamamoto now 6-2 by oshidashi.
Nishikifuji defeats Chiyoshoma – We have not seen a Chiyoshoma henka in a while, and today’s attempt probably did more harm to his cause than good. With is body not in any sort of sumo position, it was easy for Nishikifuji to get a firm mawashi hold and drive Chiyoshoma out by yorikiri to improve to 6-2.
Takarafuji defeats Yutakayama – Its nice to see Takarafuji fighting well, which he managed to do today. He was able to stop Yutakayama’s attack at the tachiai, then Takarafuji worked to get an armpit hold which he used to move Yutakayama back, and toss him across the bales to improve to 3-5 by oshidashi.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Shimanoumi – Both of these guys started this match at 1-6, and both of them are likely to be make-koshi by the end of the second act in Tuesday. But today we got to see Terutsuyoshi fight in reverse for a block of time, until he could get his hands placed, his feet set and attack. Once Terutsuyoshi started moving forward, it was a quick run to the bales to send Shimanoumi out by yorikiri, improving to 2-6.
Tochinoshin defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji came in strong, grabbing for Tochinoshin’s mawashi at the front. A strong right hand swat to move Midorifuji away sent him tumbling into the front row. That’s some strength! Tochinoshin now 5-3 by hatakikomi.
Nishikigi defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho has all of the offense in this match, save for the final moment. As Kotoshoho is driving forward to move Nishikigi out, Nishikigi manages to pivot and deliver a throw at the moment he falls off the dohyo into the front row. The shimpan want to review it, so a monoii is called. The replay only further refined Nishikigi’s outstanding move at the bales, he improves to 6-2 by kotenage.
Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Chiyotairyu managed to gather up enough power to show us one of his cannonball tachiai after a long absence. Nice to see him do it, and he stampedes Okinoumi out in 3 steps, advancing to 5-3.
Meisei defeats Hokutofuji – A fine example of why Hokutofuji has “the strongest make-koshi in all of sumo”. He opens strong, fights like a ranging madman and is relentless. But he gets off balance, he is too far forward, and Meisei drops him with a katasukashi to advance to 5-3.
Tobizaru defeats Kotoeko – A great start to this match, Tobizaru attacks with power from the tachiai, and Kotoeko looks to be ready to change his hand placement and counter attack. But it all comes to an end as Tobizaru a delivers a foot sweep, knocking Kotoeko to the clay by kekaeshi. Tobizaru now 6-2.
Ura defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama is so tentative at the tachiai, he’s wide open for Ura to just pick an impact spot and propel “Big Dan” straight out. Aoiyama lost this one before it even started, which is a shame. Both end the day 4-4.
Kotonowaka defeats Ichinojo – The concern following Ichinojo’s first loss on day 7 to Kotonowaka is that it would disrupt his mental state, it might rob him of the “I think I can” that is so important to winning in any human endeavor. Ichinojo, throughout his career, has been especially prone to this, and it seems it may have happened on day 7. Kotonowaka easily gets him standing up, then moves him around with comparative ease given his enormity. This is Ichinojo’s second loss, knocking him out of sole lead of the basho. They both end the day 6-2.
Hoshoryu defeats Kiribayama – I am really grateful for this match. So much of the torikumi is a roster of rikishi doing the best they can through a attenuating shroud of injury. It’s refreshing to see two young, healthy, strong, high-skill rikishi fight with everything they can muster. As is usually the case when these two fight, they end up being “kitchen sink” matches, where both are unleashing multiple attack forms moment by moment in an attempt to overwhelm the other’s defenses. Today it was Hoshoryu who came out on top with a yoritaoshi to hurl Kiribayama into the front row, improving Hoshoryu to 4-4.
Abi defeats Sadanoumi – Traditional Abi-zumo today. Sadanoumi tries to break up the double-arm thrusts, but can’t quite connect at the right tempo, and endures too many broad sides to maintain defensive foot placement. Abi drives him out on the 4th exchange by tsukidashi to end the day 5-3.
Wakatakakage defeats Daieisho – Daieisho opens strong, putting all of his attacks against Wakatakakage’s face. He’s making progress, but Wakatakakage finds an open route to Daieisho’s chest, and returns fire. With a right hand on Daieisho’s mawashi, Wakatakakage dials up the pressure and moves Daieisho first back, and then tumbling out. Wakatakakage takes the win to improve to 5-3 with a hearty oshitaoshi as Daieisho gets a face full of clay.
Takakeisho defeats Endo – Takakeisho played Endo’s desire for a mawashi hold very well. Time and again Endo lunged in to get a hand full of silk, and Takakeisho timed his thrusting to match. By the 4th exchange, Endo was off balance enough that the Ozeki could pull him forward and down. Takakeisho slaps victory number 5 out of Endo, advances to 5-3 by hatakikomi.
Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Great opening combo from Tamawashi. He had Shodai in deep trouble, and maybe that’s what it takes now to get some Shodai sumo. One step short of the tawara, Shodai breaks out the “Wall of Daikon”, and rushes forward to brute Tamawashi back. Where has this been? Stuck in the post from from the stable in Aichi? Did Yutakayama have it under his futon and forgot it was there? Glad to see it back, sir. Please use daily from here on out. Tamawashi gets yorikiri’d out, and Shodai is now 4-4.
Terunofuji defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu loves to fight yotsu-zumo style. This is always a tough choice when facing Terunofuji, as he will happily join you in a battle hug, and wear you down. Wakamotoharu has some fine moves, but each time, Terunofuji slows him down, and marches him back to the center of the dohyo. They are fighting well, and I really was impressed by Wakamotoharu’s drive and stamina. After a long lock up, Wakamotoharu tries to drive forward… and WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? Tate gyoji Inosuke jumps in and tries to stop the match? Wakamotoharu kind of sort of won? They rewind the match? Try.. again? Well, on the re-do(?) Terunofuji uses his enormous strength to bodily throw Wakamotoharu down with a shitatenage, advancing to 6-2.