Let’s set the scene for today’s action. First and foremost, our tournament leaders are Terunofuji and Ichinojo, with Takakeisho just behind. The Yokozuna and the Ozeki have each other to battle while Ichinojo will face whomever they throw in his way.
After days of losing wrestlers to covid protocols, we don’t lose any more today. However, we’ve got a number of Juryo visitors in Makuuchi to make up for those who’ve already gone. This means we also have some rather low-ranking wrestlers battling in the joi, and even taking on sanyaku wrestlers. Without further ado, let’s get to the action.
Onosho vs Nishikifuji: It’s easy to say something like, “Nishikifuji failed to force the belt battle so Onosho’s thrusting paid off with a win.” But Nishikifuji did get a contain on the tsuppari and forced the issue as best as he could. Onosho’s win was by yorikiri, after all. Onosho was the stronger wrestler today.
Myogiryu vs Ryuden: Ryuden claimed the Juryo yusho tonight by powering through Myogiryu’s tsuppari, then powering straight through Myogiryu. He forced his will on the belt. It was an impressive win.
Terutsuyoshi vs Asanowaka: Henka! Asanowaka elicits gasps from the audience as he jumps to the left to avoid a straight tachiai. While Terutsuyoshi tried to stop his momentum, Asanowaka brought his right hand down on Teru’s torso and grabbed for the belt with his left. The added help was enough to send Terutsuyoshi flying. I didn’t get my hatakikomi but the result is the same. Asanowaka is 7-7. Terutsuyoshi is 5-9.
Hidenoumi vs Takarafuji: Hidenoumi seems injured. Takarafuji got a solid tachiai in but Hidenoumi could not put any weight on his right foot. As a result, the Takarabune sails to a kachi-koshi record, 8-6. Hidenoumi sinks further to 5-9.
Oho vs Midorifuji: Impressive big-man sumo from Midorifuji. Powerful tsuppari created separation when Oho tried to attack. He dodged a pull down attempt and weathered Oho’s own tsuppari. Oho’s downfall came by moving backwards. Midorifuji avoided another pull down, stayed low and pressed forward, wrapping up young Oho and forcing him over the bales. Yorikiri. There’s a reason we like forward-moving sumo. It works, a lot. Backwards sumo fails, a lot. Midorifuji improves to 9-5. Oho is 8-6.
Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki: Waka’s worried. I think Shimanoumi’s right knee is not in condition to compete. Kagayaki put his head into Shimanoumi’s shoulder and drove him back, similar to Takarafuji’s win over Hidenoumi. Kagayaki is 7-7; Shimanoumi is 1-13.
Okinoumi vs Yutakayama: What was it that I said about backwards moving sumo losing, a lot? Well, this was not one of those times. Yutakayama started out with forward moving sumo and some strong nodowa, forcing Okinoumi back. Okinoumi resisted like a champ, though, and kept pressing his game. He weathered Yutakayama’s storm. But Yutakayama pulled, and Okinoumi fell while Yutakayama jumped out. Gumbai to Yutakayama. Mono-ii, but the gyoji’s decision is confirmed. Wow, the replay showed just how close it was. The call is tsukiotoshi.
Aoiyama vs Chiyoshoma: Chiyoshoma tried to get Aoiyama’s belt but Aoiyama wasn’t having it, blasting Chiyoshoma with tsuppari. After a withering brawl Aoiyama committed all of his weight forward in a Pickett’s charge, basically throwing himself at Chiyoshoma, but the gambit failed. He didn’t catch Chiyoshoma squarely and glanced off his shoulder, falling to the dohyo. Tsukiotoshi. Aoiyama make-koshi, Chiyoshoma 7-7.
Chiyomaru vs Sadanoumi: Wow. Sadanoumi met Chiyomaru forcefully at the tachiai, then attacked Chiyomaru’s flank. Off balance, Chiyomaru couldn’t recover and stop his momentum until he was standing in the crowd. Sadanoumi improves to 6-8. Chiyomaru falls to 5-9.
Hokutofuji vs Ura: Henka from Ura but Hokutofuji recovered in time. Hokutofuji charged back and Ura retreated around the ring. While giving chase Hokutofuji nearly lost his balance but planted his feet and stopped his momentum. This gave Ura an opening to move to the center of the dohyo and then blast Hokutofuji out. Ura is 7-7, Hokutofuji make-koshi.
Meisei vs Ichinojo: Wow, Meisei won on the belt. Both men locked in to a grapple at the tachiai. Ichinojo tried to adjust his grip but this left him open to attack. Meisei took advantage, strengthened his own position and belt grip and pressed forward. He then attempted a throw, pitching both wrestlers up onto one leg. This forced Ichinojo off balance, so Meisei regrouped and pushed him out. Yorikiri. Ichinojo falls to 11-3, Meisei kachi-koshi at 8-6.
Kiribayama vs Wakamotoharu: These guys were upside-down, each trying to throw the other. What a bout! Mono-ii. Torinaoshi. Let’s do it again! This time tsuppari nearly wins it for Kiribayama but both men are giving it their all. Harumafuji, I mean, Kiribayama uses the belt to wrench Wakamotoharu around, putting his back to the edge. He then pushed forward through Wakamotoharu, forcing both to tumble from the dohyo. Gumbai to Kiribayama. No mono-ii this time. Yoritaoshi. Kiribayama wins the bout of the tournament so far. Kiribayama 7-7, Wakamotoharu 5-9.
Hoshoryu vs Tochinoshin: Hoshoryu likes long staredowns. Tochinoshin says, “this is bullshit,” and stands up. They reset. This time Tochinoshin committed by putting both hands down first. Hoshoryu then attacked. Both men locked in on each other’s belt and settled at the center of the ring for a grapple. Hoshoryu spun his entire body, effectively throwing Tochinoshin over the edge. Uwatedashinage. Hoshoryu 9-5, Tochinoshin 7-7.
Chiyotairyu vs Abi: Standard Abi-zumo here. Hatakikomi. The annoying thing about this was that if Chiyotairyu hadn’t charged forward with enough force to throw himself, he could have kept his balance and watched Abi fall. Instead, Chiyotairyu fell to the dohyo first. Does he not know who he’s fighting? Prepare, man! Abi’s kachi-koshi and Chiyotairyu is make-koshi.
Takakeisho vs Wakatakakage: One for the record books here. Takakeisho grabbed Wakatakakage’s arm and wrenched him around, clear to the tawara. It looked like Santa was trying to heft his sack up over his shoulder. Unfortunately for T-Rex, he couldn’t drive the sack out of the ring. Instead, he gave Wakatakakage a beautiful position to launch a counter attack…from behind. So Wakatakakage obliged and forced Takakeisho out from behind. Okuridashi.
Terunofuji vs Shodai: Shodai is absolutely infuriating. It’s like he put in an emergency call to ACME for one of those paintable holes. Is this why they have him fight maegashira instead of the other Ozeki?
He hit the Yokozuna head-on at the tachiai, left shoulder outside Terunofuji’s right. Terunofuji stretched forward with that right in order to lock in on Shodai’s belt. While he leaned forward, Shodai slipped that left shoulder inside, seeking a grip at the front. But his body just seemed to keep slipping right…through the mysterious painted hole and into the ether. Meanwhile, his right hand got a grip of the back of Terunofuji’s belt. Simple physics took over here:
M + R – S = Z
Terunofuji’s forward momentum + Shodai’s right hand – the missing body of Shodai = Terunofuji on his belly\
Wrap Things Up
So, senshuraku is tomorrow. To wrap up, Ichinojo fell to Meisei but Terunofuji did him better by falling to Shodai. With Takakeisho also losing to Wakatakakage, we’re back where we started the day! It’s likely that Takakeisho will fight Terunofuji tomorrow. We’ve got a chance at an outright win, a two-man playoff, or a three-man playoff. Or, Covid could do something real weird but let’s hope for one of these options, shall we?