We have now finished act 2 of the Nagoya basho – Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned.
The top end of the score board has narrowed enough that I think we are going to be able to start Act 3 on Wednesday with a proper leader board. We had four rikishi pick up their 8th win today and secure their kachi-koshi. At the same time, two rikishi picked up their 8th loss, and are now make-koshi for Nagoya. There are still over 20 rikishi in the funnel for the schedulers to play with, as over the next 4 days they try to herd as many as possible into 7-7 scores.
Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – This match was a motley collection of head slaps and neck pulls disguised as sumo. Sure they were battling away, but it was short on any kind of real technique. It only ends when Myogiryu times a push against a Yutakayama pull, and somebody remembers that you can move the other guy if you push against his chest. Myogiryu improves to 6-4 by oshidashi.
Takarafuji defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru inches closer to his make-koshi while Takarafuji evens up to 5-5. On full display are the mechanics behind Takarafuji’s 9-1 career dominance of Chiyomaru, as the “round one” keeps trying to pull down Takarafuji even though they are locked up chest to chest. As with the prior matches, Takarafuji maintains a tight right hand grip, wears Chiyomaru down, and walks him out after he tires. Takarafuji now 5-5.
Oho defeats Kotoshoho – Oho won this match of the first hit. Kotoshoho did not guard his chest well enough at the tachiai, and Oho landed quite the blow center-mass. At that moment, Kotoshoho’s weight was shifted back, and he was never able to get forward and on offense. Oho advances to 6-4 by oshidashi.
Midorifuji defeats Onosho – I loved watching Midorifuji tear down Onosho’s hand placement the moment after the tachiai. He’s so deliberate and methodical, and it robs Onosho of the balance he needs to push effectively. He follows that with a combo to break Onosho’s grip entirely, and tries a pull. It does not work, but it opens Onosho’s chest and Midorifuji dives in for the kill, pulling Onosho around and then pushing him out from behind. The okuridashi advances Midorifuji to 6-4.
Meisei defeats Nishikifuji – A tremendous battle from Nishikifuji as he took the fight to Meisei from the start. After exchanging pushes and slaps, they opted for left hand inside positions, and Meisei put a lot of pivot into every step. This had Nishikifuji up one one leg a few times, but he stayed in the fight (nice balance sir!). Having blown through a lot of energy, they two lock up chest to chest and hug it out in the middle of the dohyo for a good long time. When they finally re-engage, it’s each man trying to put the other off balance, and Meisei proves to have the better footwork. Nishikifuji misses out on kachi-koshi today as Meisei’s yoritaoshi elevates him to 6-4.
Daiamami defeats Shimanoumi – Daiamami finally found his second win, when Shimanoumi was unable to shut down Daiamami’s methodical sumo. After locking up chest to chest, Shimanoumi kept a right arm ottsuke going for as long as he could, but eventually Daiamami found his grip, dropped his hips, and bucked Shimanoumi back, then out. Daiamami up to 2-8 now.
Tsurugisho defeats Kotoeko – To me it looks like Kotoeko changed his mind about where he was going to aim his hands at the moment of tachiai. This left Tsurugisho with an excellent deep grip that gave him total control over Kotoeko’s body. It was quick work to apply the yorikiri and march Kotoeko out, both men finishing the day at 5-5. Odd note, Tsurugisho forgot his kensho…
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochinoshin – Well, that’s a henka. Terutsuyoshi steps to the side, grabs Tochinoshin’s leg and upends him. Terutsuyoshi improves to 4-6.
Nishikigi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma decides he is going from right hand inside to right hand outside, and that moment of transition is where he lost the match. With Chiyoshoma’s chest suddenly wide open, Nishikigi attacks center-mass, and Chiyoshoma has no way to hold his position. An oshdashi win for Nishikigi, 8-2 and kachi-koshi. Next stop double digits for Nishkigi. Will be be back in the joi-jin in September?
Hokutofuji defeats Aoiyama – This one almost qualified for “what the hell was that?” status. Hokutofuji fights in reverse gear pretty much the whole match. Aoiyama does his best, but after the 4th exchange loses his balance and belly flops on the dohyo. The listed kimarite is hikkake, so hey, close enough. Hokutofuji now 5-5.
Tobizaru defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu finds that he can’t blast Tobizaru off his feet at the tachiai, and ends up partially engaged in a yotsu battle. He quickly recognizes this is not going to end well, and starts trying to pull Tobizaru down. Much to everyone’s delight, Tobizaru keeps his feet under this level of attack, and pushes Chiyotairyu out. Oddly enough both men and the gyoji end up clumped together in the southeast corner of the dohyo. Tobizaru hits his 8th win and is kachi-koshi for July.
Wakamotoharu defeats Okinoumi – If you take a look across Wakamotoharu’s 10 matches this July, you can see that he really has put together a solid sumo style. He has been quietly moving up the ranks a few at a time, mostly through hard work, excellent fundamentals and mountains of stamina. His match today against the high-skilled Okinoumi underscores that Wakamotoharu hard work really has paid off. Though he is just at 5-5, his sumo looks fantastic, and I expect he is headed for higher rank.
Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Well, there’s the Boulder again. He’s back to being enormous and quite strong. The key to this win was his left hand. First it was gripped to the front of Tamawashi’s belt, then it was around his body. It let him control Tamawashi and keep him from breaking free and engaging in his desired attack modes. With Tamawashi captured, Ichinojo moves him back, then slams him down. Eight wins for Ichinojo at 8-2 and kachi-koshi for Nagoya.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – There are days, like today, where Hoshoryu looks like the “next great rikishi”. Fantastic work to shut down Kotonowaka’s advantage coming out of the tachiai, then setting up the uwate, then hurling Kotonowaka to the clay. Solid, strong performance from Hoshoryu, who improves to 6-4 on the strength of that kakenage.
Kiribayama defeats Abi – Excellent work by Kiribayama to shut down Abi’s double arm attack mode. To be honest Abi had not set it up well, and found himself suddenly exposed and standing tall. Kiribayama took that moment to apply a fair amount of force center mass, and push Abi out. Kiribayama’s oshidashi improves his score to 4-6.
Wakatakakage defeats Endo – Endo gambles every match these days on landing that left. It’s easy to anticipate, and Wakatakakage does. But Endo finds the mawashi, and Wakatakakage moves to defend. Endo moves to finish the match, but finds that Wakatakakage’s right hand has him locked against the bales. He tries to pivot away, but turns his back to Wakatakakage. With his stance, his sumo and his balance now completely disrupted, he catches a Wakatakakage broadside full in the chest and hurtles into the front row. That’s an 8th loss for Endo, and he is make-koshi while Wakatakakage advances to 6-4.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Fans expect big exchanges of high powered thrusts from these two, and they were happy to supply. Takakeisho is the one with more forward power today, and when Daieisho finds his heels on the bales, he tries to escape, but finds Takakeisho chasing him down. He exits the ring by okuridashi, and Takakeisho improves to 7-3.
Shodai defeats Ura – Ozeki Shodai seems to be back. Makes us fans wonder what the hell happened week one where he looked like hell. He takes a firm hold of Ura, and keeps him from doing much outside of common yotsu-zumo. Even so, Ura gives him a big fight. Shodai gets him on the move and dumps him into the front row with a bounding yoritaoshi to improve to 6-4. He needs just 2 more wins in the final 5 days to make kachi-koshi and clear kadoban.
Terunofuji defeats Sadanoumi – Sadly this was never going to be too much of a contest. The genki version of Sadanoumi that took the jun-yusho in May is nowhere to be found this July in the Nagoya heat. So the Yokozuna gets a nice hold, shakes his prey a couple of times to make sure nothing is going to spring loose, then walks Sadanoumi out. Terunofuji is kachi-koshi at 8-2 with that yorikiri walk out.