Well, instead of getting serious, tonight was when this basho became a joke. Not one, not two, not three but FOUR stables were forced into Covid kyujo: Shibatayama, Kataonami, Isenoumi, and (gasp!) Oitekaze. This eviscerated the heart of makuuchi action. Tamawashi, gone. His perfect attendance streak, reaching back to 2004, over. Nishikigi, Endo, Tobizaru, Daieisho, Daiamami, Tsurugisho…sidelined. News from Herouth is that Endo actually tested positive. We hope that if he has symptoms, they’re mild and he recovers quickly.
This is getting farcical. Last person standing gets the Emperor's Cup.
Today's COVID bingo, brace yourselves:
Shibatayama beya (No sekitori)
Isenoumi beya (Nishikigi et al.)
Kataonami beya (Tamawashi et al.)
Oitekaze beya !!!
— ヘルット (Basho SPOILERS!) (@SumoFollower) July 22, 2022
The nonsense really hit home in the last half of makuuchi “action” with a streak of five consecutive fusen, broken by three bouts, only to have yet another fusen, and then the final two bouts. The gasps and groans from the audience were audible to those of us viewing at home. Well, let’s take a look at how it went down.
Mitoryu vs. Tsurugisho: I was jazzed for this bout because of the promotion/demotion implications of both wrestlers. Unfortunately, Tsurugisho’s late covid scratch meant this match would not take place. As a consequence, Mitoryu is 8-5, kachi-koshi, and Tsurugisho is 5-8, make-koshi*…with a corona-virus-shaped asterisk. Mitoryu is likely to be promoted but Tsurugisho’s status for the next banzuke is suddenly uncertain, not to mention stablemate Daiamami.
Terutsuyoshi vs. Oho: Terutsuyoshi went for the submarine attack at the tachiai. What surprised me was that Oho obliged and went for the belt. Oho sure knew what he was doing, though, because one quick pull brought Terutsuyoshi forward to the floor. Uwatedashinage. Oho claims his first kachi-koshi in the top division and looked pretty chuffed as he walked to do do his sankyo. Terutsuyoshi is make-koshi.
Yutakayama vs. Midorifuji: We got a decent brawl. Yutakayama’s plan may have been to beat Midorifuji into submission. But Midorifuji well-executed plan lured Yutakayama to the edge…and then disappeared, causing Yutakayama to tumble from the dohyo. Hatakikomi, rather than katasukashi, but close enough. Midorifuji secures his kachi-koshi while Yutakayama falls to 6-7.
Myogiryu vs. Meisei: A quick bout which didn’t go the way I thought. Myogiryu already had his winning record but was more motivated than Meisei, and drove him back and out with little-ado. Myogiryu is 9-4 and looking at his first double-digit record in nearly a year. Meisei falls to 7-6.
Chiyotairyu vs. Onosho: Onosho didn’t fall for it this time. Chiyotairyu had the strong tachiai, driving Onosho back. But when he executed his pull, Onosho was unfazed, following without losing his balance or pitching too far forward, then shoved Chiyotairyu over the bales. Onosho kachi-koshi at 8-5, Chiyotairyu falls to 6-7.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyomaru: Shimanoumi continues to have a terrible tournament. He locked up with Chiyomaru in a lean-fest. He even strategized with a sufficiently loose shimekomi. This time the gyoji did not intervene and attempt to fix it as it started to unravel. This did give Chiyomaru significant difficulty in trying to lift or drag Shimanoumi forward. Chiyomaru’s left hand, while firmly gripping Shimanoumi’s belt, was up at Shimanoumi’s shoulder!
Wisely, Chiyomaru decided to push him down from that shoulder. I’d almost call that a katasukashi but they’ve given him an uwatedashinage, likely because his hand was all over Shimanoumi’s belt. Shimanoumi is Juryo-bound at 1-12. Chiyomaru improves to 5-8.
Tochinoshin vs. Chiyoshoma: No double henka. Long stare down, they reset. One-way henka. Chiyoshoma henkas and Tochinoshin falls for it, literally. They call it an uwatedashinage because Chiyoshoma got his hand over on Tochinoshin’s belt. Tochinoshin is 7-6, Chiyoshoma is 6-7.
Nishikifuji vs. Tobizaru: A first-time bout here, which we miss out on because of Covid. Tobizaru rests, kachi-koshi at 8-5, Nishikifuji improves to 9-4.
Daiamami vs. Sadanoumi: Sadanoumi won this but I did not foresee the Covid kyujo. Daiamami is 2-9-2 but will he save his makuuchi rank with the covid kyujo? Sadanoumi improves to 5-8.
Endo vs. Takarafuji: Endo kyujo. 3-10* with a covid-asterisk. Takarafuji improves to 7-6 and may actually get a kachi-koshi.
Tamawashi vs. Ura: Tamawashi kyujo for the first time ever. Now make-koshi (5-8*) while Ura improves to 6-7.
Nishikigi vs. Ichinojo: Nishikigi kyujo, 8-5*. Ichinojo improves to 11-2 and surely enjoys the stress-free W.
Kiribayama vs Okinoumi: Both wrestlers showed up today! We have a bout, after five consecutive fusen. After the solid tachiai, Okinoumi set in for a long lean fest. But just when Okinoumi’s weight was rested full on Kiribayama, Kiribayama suddenly twisted and spun out of the way. They call it a kotenage but there was no arm bar, Okinoumi just fell because Kiribayama wasn’t there anymore. Kiribayama 6-7, Okinoumi 4-9.
Hokutofuji vs. Abi: Hokutofuji did not quite make it off the dohyo when he fell forward. Other than that, this bout went pretty much as expected. Hikiotoshi. Abi improves to 7-6 while Hokutofuji falls to 6-7.
Hoshoryu vs. Wakamotoharu: A long stare. Dud bout. The stare down ended up being longer than the fight. Hoshoryu won by quick kotenage after a solid tachiai, not giving Wakamotoharu any chance. Hoshoryu kachi-koshi, Wakamotoharu make-koshi.
Aoiyama vs. Daieisho: Daieisho fell to covid kyujo. Aoiyama 6-7, Daieisho 6-7*.
Takakeisho vs. Shodai: I’m a sumo Einstein. Shodai’s run came to an end tonight. Like I said, Takakeisho is no Aoiyama. Takakeisho’s nodowa forced Shodai back to the edge where T-Rex’s lethal shove helped Shodai over the bales.
Terunofuji vs. Wakatakakage: Terunofuji just too dominant. Wakatakakage tried to get inside but the Yokozuna wasn’t having any of it. This bout resembled a schoolyard version of King of the Hill, when a first grader took on the biggest fifth grader in school. Oshidashi.
Well, that’s it for the action today. Unfortunately, rather abbreviated. Hopefully tomorrow’s bouts won’t be quite so sparse. They’re actually pulling four blokes up from Juryo to fill in! I’ll have more details later today in the preview post.