Did the Hatsu basho take a pause, or a day off to celebrate the mid-point at Nakabi? Oh hell no! The quality sumo keeps rolling, as the Yokozuna is on holiday, and the promotion lanes are wide open. I must give special mention to Ozeki Takakeisho. The lone survivor of a crop of Ozeki that have all fallen to wreck and ruin, he is now holding court at the top of the banzuke. The Isegahama squad has given him a set of tough matches, and he showed surprisingly versatile sumo in the past two days, defeating Midorifuji and Nishkifuji in intense matches that left the crowd screaming for more.
In the course of day 8, most of the 6-1 crowd took their second loss, leaving just Takakeisho and Kotoshoho at 7-1. Both of them are on the cusp of hitting their 8th win, and their kachi-koshi on day 9.
Hokuseiho defeats Mitoryu – It was another day in the park for Hokuseiho. He calmly grabbed Mitoryu, jostled him a bit to consolidate his grip, and then lifted and walked ahead. Yeah, that’s some big sumo. He returns to Juryo 6-2. I want to see him fight Asanoyama.
Kotoshoho defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru has nothing to offer, the poor fellow. It’s a shame that he gets to come back to the top division, but shows up hurt. His initial attack does not even land, and he gets dominated by Kotoshoho, who is now 7-1 and owns a share of the lead.
Takarafuji defeats Kotoeko – Takarafuji inches closer to his rescue kachi-koshi to affirm his place in the top division. A quick “stand him up, pull him down” combo from Takarafuji was all that was needed today. He’s 6-2.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Chiyoshoma – Classic Ichiyamamoto sumo today, he keeps Chiyoshoma at distance, and under fire. Chiyoshoma tries a couple of moves in closer, but just cannot get into range to grab any part of Ichiyamamoto’s body. Chiyoshoma falls to a hatakikomi as Ichiyamamoto improves to 5-3.
Azumaryu defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama executed his normal attack plan, albeit with less of the V-Twin than I would like to see. He was perhaps a bit too eager in his pull down attempt, catching Azumaryu firmly planted on his feet, but putting him self too far forward. The reciprocal hatakikomi the match, with Aoiyama face first into the bales. Both end the day 6-2, with Azumaryu needing just 2 more wins for his first ever top division kachi-koshi.
Hiradoumi defeats Tsurugisho – It was a battle to see if Hiradoumi would get Tsurugisho out, or if his mawashi would fall off first. Rightly fearing what kind of horror such an incident might unleash Hiradoumi doubled and tripled his effort. It only made Tsurugisho’s tenuously fastened garment dismantle more rapidly. I was certain the HNK cameramen were about to pan to the ceiling, when Hiradoumi heroically saved us all by placing Tsurugisho out, trailing a substantial fraction of his mawashi. Hiradoumi now 5-3, with all of our gratitude as a bonus.
Kagayaki defeats Takanosho – Takanosho supplied all of the offense for the first part of this match, pushing hard into Kagayaki. Kagayaki waited for Takanosho to put his hands inside, then clamped down with his elbows, trapping him. Some nice butsugari followed, and Kagayaki ended by releasing forward pressure slapping Takanosho down. Both end the day 4-4.
Ura defeats Endo – Endo really flubbed the tachiai here, he could not get any hand placement, and tried to slap Ura’s hands away. Instead he opened his chest to attack. Ura responded with a solid attack, and Endo could not recover. Ura improves to 5-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Oho – At least we can tell from this match that Oho is not completely helpless. He was able to absorb Hokutofuji’s initial combo, and even rallied to push Hokutofuji back, and crank on Hokutofuji’s head a bit to make sure it was properly attached. Silly Oho, you should now you can attack Hokutofuji’s upper body all you want, but his lower body will still be working on its own. Hokutofuji recovers, gets hand placement, and that lower body goes to work moving Oho out of the ring and into the front row. Hokutofuji up to 5-3, Oho one loss from make-koshi at 1-7.
Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu came in fast and got both hands inside. Ryuden responded by locking down his elbows, trapping Myogiryu in a kimedashi. They dance about for a short time, but Ryuden gets him out, and is now 5-3.
Nishikigi defeats Onosho – Onosho gets the advantage early, and turns on the power. To my surprise, Nishikigi captures him well, pulls him in, and then ramps up the forward power himself. It’s Onosho who breaks his balance first, allowing Nishikigi to run him out. Nice power struggle, and Nishikigi improves to 5-3.
Tamawashi defeats Mitakeumi – Tamawashi employed a unique combo of a right hand outside grip and a left hand nodowa at the same time. I wonder if part of the win was Mitakeumi’s surprise that you could turn those two into a combo. Tamawashi stampeded the original tadpole out in a hurry, and is now 5-3.
Meisei defeats Daieisho – As potent as Daieisho is right now, I was floored that Meisei was able to pace Daieisho, but actually overpowered him. I think the key was that Meisei focused on entangling Daieisho’s arms, and keeping that thrusting attack offline. Excellent match plan, and a well earned win. Meisei now 3-5.
Tobizaru defeats Kotonowaka – Another match where Tobizaru is an agent of chaos? Nobody should be the least bit surprised. A wild start that saw both men lose contact for a moment, they settled in chest to chest, with Kotonowaka too high, and in trouble. Kotonowaka was starting to get an offense together, when a Tobizaru leg sweep put him on the clay. Fantastic move from Tobizaru, and both end the day 3-5.
Kiribayama defeats Abi – Interesting opening from Kiribayama. He absorbs the initial double arm thrust, leaps forward to clear Abi’s targeting area, and immediately thrusts Abi back. It works quite well, and Abi is out by oshidashi. Surprising, inventive and effective. Good show Kiribayama! Both are now 5-3.
Wakamotoharu defeats Shodai – Shodai’s path to return to Ozeki is now gone. With his 6th loss, he can no longer reach the 10-5 record he would need to resume his post in sumo’s second highest rank. Shodai nearly had him. A solid tachiai, a good grapple and a powerful forward rush. But Wakamotoharu was able to stop him, reverse him and walk him out. Something got rid of Shodai’s forward power months ago, and this is the culmination of that. Wakamotoharu is now 4-4.
Hoshoryu defeats Sadanoumi – A henka from Hoshoryu sends Sadanoumi into that same salt basket he visited yesterday when Daieisho launched him down range. Not quite what I was hoping for, but ok… Hoshoryu now 6-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji’s grip on Wakatakakage is nothing like what he thought it was, and as he went to rotate into some kind of throw, he instead presented his back to Wakatakakage, and lost by okuridashi as a result. Both are now 4-4.
Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – Another big brawl in the final match of the day, I love it. We got to see the wave-action tsuppari, we got to see Nishikifuji rally and drive Takakeisho back. And that finish! How does a 185kg ur-dumpling do that? It was glorious, and Takakeisho is now 7-1.