As predicted, Okinoumi has announced his retirement from sumo competition. He will transition to life as an oyakata, taking the name Kimigahama. His retirement ceremony is scheduled for September 30th at the Kokugikan. We are looking forward to seeing him in a blue jacket soon.
I was already delighted with the quality of competition in this basho, but it seems the rikishi decided that the middle weekend deserved an extra dose of excellence, and day 7 is one to savor. We don’t always get this level of awesome, and I am happy I was around to see it.
In Juryo, Asanoyama won his day 7 match, and is now 7-0. Perhaps we will get to see if lksumo’s forecast may come to pass, if he can keep winning. He has 2 men chasing him at 6-1 as he continues to look more like Ozeki Asanoyama now than a Juryo man.
Bushozan defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji looks to be back to trying to work in his “defend and extend” brand of sumo. It worked well for a time against Bushozan, until it seems Takarafuji decided to back up. I think it may have been part of a pull attempt, but it had a disastrous effect on his sumo. Bushozan advanced, and crumpled Takarafuji to the clay, advancing to 4-3.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Mitoryu – Ichiyamamoto gave Mitoryu a wide opening to take the match, but Mitoryu could not quite keep his body in position, or his shoulders square to his opponent. Ichiyamamoto reversed their positions, backing Mitoryu to the bales, and shoved him out. Solid attack play from Ichiyamamoto today, and he is now 4-3.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyomaru – Old Chiyomaru is really not up for this tournament. That ankle is day to day, and today was not a day where his ankle was willing to cooperate. He takes Kagayaki to his chest in attempt to limit the mobility in the match, but finds the best he can manage is to stand around and lean on Kagayaki. It seemed that Chiyomaru got bored with that, broke contact and tried to pull Kagayaki down. Of course Kagayaki counter-attacked and Chiyomaru was out three steps later. Kagayaki now 3-4.
Chiyoshoma defeats Kotoeko – No henka today, he goes chest to chest with Kotoeko, and then pulls him down with a quick hatakikomi. Chiyoshoma picks up his first win on the clay and is 2-5.
Aoiyama defeats Tsurugisho – This match was all Aoiyama, taking the inside lane at the tachiai, and just driving forward with the V-Twin thrusting attack blazing away. Tsurugisho had no response, and was quickly out. Aoiyama improves to 6-1.
Kotoshoho defeats Endo – When Endo got his left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, I was certain Kotoshoho would be on the clay a moment later. But Endo executed a makikae, and found himself it trouble as Kotoshoho reacted perfectly. He drove Endo back and out, with the two landing in a heap. Although Kotoshoho landed first, Endo had stepped out long before he finished his rescue throw at the edge. Kotoshoho now an impressive 6-1.
Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – Takanosho employed a “stand up” tachiai, forcing Azumaryu to close the distance on his own. This left Azumaryu on the wrong foot, and Takanosho drove in, connected with Azumaryu’s center-mass and pushed him out of the ring. A solid bit of sumo from Takanosho, who could really use some wins. He is now 4-3.
Onosho defeats Hiradoumi – I can guess that Hiradoumi was expecting a thrusting battle today. Instead he had Onosho set up the yori at the tachiai, and it was chest to chest for the brief moments of this fight. Credit to Hiradoumi, who tried to break Onosho’s hold, but it was three steps and out for Hiradoumi. Some nice versatility from Onosho today, he is 6-1.
Oho defeats Myogiryu – Let there be jubilation across the land, Oho finally got his first win. Myogiryu tried a number of combos, but none of them moved Oho with any real effect. Oho absorbed a few, then seemed to gain confidence, and counter-attacked, finishing Myogiryu with an okuridashi. Shonichi for him, and he is 1-6.
Ura defeats Nishikigi – Again today we saw that huge forward power from Nishikigi. Ura hit low, Nishikigi could care less, he got his hands in place, and powered ahead. Ura, always the master of grab-and-tug sumo, decided that Nishikigi’s left arm was forfeit, and gave it a hearty pull. Down goes Nishikigi, a victim of his own forward pressure. Konosuke called the match for Nishikigi, but in a rare reversal, the shimpan awarded the white star to Ura. Both end the day 4-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Ryuden – Hokutofuji opened strong with his nodowa attack. Quite impressed that Ryuden was able to break that hold, and take Hokutofuji in for a chest to chest battle. Unable to reach Ryuden’s neck in that position, Hokutofuji settled for an armpit with a left hand hazu-oshi. It was clear Ryuden was trying to set up a throw from the left, and Hokutofuji knew it. His lower body is quite impressive to see at work, and he dialed up the power nicely, pushing Ryuden over the bales with a yoritaoshi. Outstanding battle gentlemen, you are now both 4-3.
Daieisho defeats Sadanoumi – Which is more likely to get you flattened by a rampaging rikishi? Being between a hungry Chiyomaru and a plate of gyoza, or being Daieisho’s opponent? At least this week, it’s more dangerous to face off against Daieisho. Points to Sadanoumi for a good escape, but but each time Daieisho made contact, Sadanoumi’s body picked up more lateral motion, until he lost his feet and launched out of the ring, across the salt basket and down the hanamichi. Daieisho advances to 6-1.
Kiribayama defeats Mitakeumi – Impressive work by Kiribayama, as he was able to trap Mitakeumi’s arms and prevent him from getting any real hold. Mitakeumi had more forward pressure, so Kiribayama could not hold position, setting up a bit of a stalemate that ended with Kiribayama takeing a left hand outside mawashi grip. It turned out to be enough leverage to lift Mitakeumi up and walk him out for a yorikiri win. Kiribayama now 4-3.
Kotonowaka defeats Wakamotoharu – I am sure Wakamotoharu had a nice strategy for today’s match against Kotonowaka. But it was gone in the blink of an eye when Kotonowaka took overwhelming command at the tachiai, and moved Wakamotoharu directly and immediately out. No moment to think, no moment to react, just “Get the hell off my dohyo!”. Both end the day 3-4.
Meisei defeats Tobizaru – Brilliant combos from Meisei today. He more or less out monkey’d the flying monkey. I am a bit sad that Tobizaru succumbed to a slippiotoshi, as I really wanted to see what he was about to do. My guess was to set up an okuridashi. But he lost traction just as Meisei delivered a solid shove, and down he went. Both end the day 2-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Abi – Big opening morotsuki attack from Abi, but impressive that Hoshoryu endured it and countered. Abi reset, and attacked again, but this time Hoshoryu took a hold of Abi’s right wrist, and pulled. It was a moment of chaos, and Hoshoryu reacted brilliantly. He dove inside, grabbed a hold and bodily shoved Abi from the ring. Wow, what a combo attack. Excellent sumo from both, and they are now both 5-2.
Nishikifuji defeats Wakatakakage – Part of me feels for Wakatakakage. Maybe he’s just a bit injured. Maybe he believed the hype that he was that dominant. But he’s taking losses now that he should not take. That lateral move by Nishikifuji with the pull was lethal, and although its done before you notice, watch it on freeze frame. What a combo. Wakatakakage hits the clay for the third time in four days, and both are now 3-4.
Tamawashi defeats Shodai – Shodai’s going to Shodai it seems. Tamawashi stands him up, pushes him out, with no more complexity than if he was fighting a Sandanme rikishi. Its a shame as we know that Shodai can be such a potent fighter. I just wish the good version of him would come back. Tamawashi now 4-3.
Takakeisho defeats Midorifuji – Save the best for last? Why, yes they did. A marvelous “kitchen sink” match that saw Takakeisho win by kotenage. Yes, mark this day, Takakeisho engaged in offensive sumo that required a grip on his opponent. It was far from certain he would carry the day, as Midorifuji gave him one hell of a fight. I am not sure what was more impressive about his performance, his ability to absorb Takakeisho’s attacks, or his rally that took the fight back to the Ozeki. The icing on the cake was the howls from the crowd, long absent, that greeted this display of outstanding sumo. Takakeisho takes home a mountain of kensho, and a 6-1 share of the lead.