A solid day of sumo for nakabi, with stand out matches across the board. With the middle day of the basho now in the record books, is on to the second week, where we will sort everyone into make-koshi and kachi-koshi, and award the Emperor’s Cup.
One thing that hit me today, with this being a Nokazuna-Nozeki tournament, the day sort of ends without any real high-stakes match. It has to be bad for ratings in Japan, which is a shame. I have a odd feeling we will get more of this in the next few months.
Stand out performance today from Daieisho, Kiribayama and Tobizaru, Endo, Ura, Hiradoumi, and it was fun to see Hokuseiho decide to pull out all the stops and win by any means available. Keep your eye on Shodai. It seems that Yokozuna Shodai from the mirror universe (where Spock has a beard) is in town this March, and he’s beating his opponents like a drum.
Kinbozan defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma had a strong opening combo, landing a left hand frontal grip, and immediately lifted to get Kinbozan unweighted. Chiyoshoma could not complete his attack, and Kinbozan returned the hold, and both were right hand inside. Kinbozan stoped trying to wrestle, and started cleaning house, lifting Chiyoshoma up Tochinoshin style, and carrying him out. Power win by tsuridashi, Kinbozan is now 6-2.
Daishoho defeats Mitoryu – A surprisingly lethargic match, they grappled early, and mostly groped for some kind of working hold. Finding nothing but rubbery back fat to grab, Daishoho eventually launched a rather sloppy uwatenage that worked well enough to score the win. Daishoho improves to 5-3.
Hokuseiho defeats Kotoeko – He fights! Kotoeko worked overtime to sell that hazu-oshi, but Hokuseiho was not buying today. After a few minutes of receiving an armpit attack, Hokuseiho had enough, reached over Kotoeko’s back, grabbed his mawashi knot and decided to shut down Kotokeo by any means available. In a largely improvised move, he lifted and twisted, slamming Kotoeko out. Kimarite is listed as the seldom seen harimanage, and Hokuseiho break his 3 match losing streak to improve to 5-3. Sometimes being enormous is a valid sumo strategy.
Oho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji really does not have much sumo right now, and its all down to his entire lexicon being based on what had previously been his ability to defend endlessly almost any form of attack. Whatever happened to him has shut most of that down, and he can’t “defend and extend” any longer. The result is a match like today, where Oho runs him amok and pushes out whatever is left. Oho improves to 4-4.
Bushozan defeats Azumaryu – Quite the sad match, as Azumaryu picks up his make-koshi on day 8, having lost every single match since the start of the tournament a week ago. I was very happy for him in January when he scored his first top division kachi-koshi in multiple tries, but it looks like he’s not long for the Maegashira ranks. Today he was crumpled to the clay by Bushozan on the second step, giving Bushozan a 3-5 score to end day 8.
Tsurugisho defeats Myogiryu – Tsurugisho does a great job of blunting Myogiryu’s opening combo, stalemating him and standing him up in the center of the dohyo. Myogiryu tries to change up his grip and that sets up the throw that gives Tsurugisho the match. He is now 5-3.
Kagayaki defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji literally bounced off of Kagayaki at the tachiai. Kagayaki followed up with a devastating thrust center-mass, and Nishikifuji was out, and headed into the crowd. Kagayaki improves to 3-5.
Ura defeats Takanosho – There are days when I watch Ura fight and just ask “What the hell is he doing?”, like today. He’s bent nearly in half, with his arms fully extended forward, like some crazed battle-crab jacked up on weapons grade espresso. But it seems Takanosho is just as puzzled by this as I am, and his reaction seems to be “Get that thing out of here!”. But for reasons only the cosmos can explain, Ura can fight from that position, and he drives Takanosho out in quick time. I have always heard that they do things oddly in Osaka, so maybe that explains Ura. Both end the day 5-3.
Hiradoumi defeats Takayasu – As a long suffering Takayasu fan, this is all too familiar. He’s 6-0! Great! This could be his big chance! Then his sumo goes all chaos, and he’s suddenly 6-2, and you realize he’s the Chicago Bears of sumo. Always a strong player, but not really ever going to take home the big prize. I saw Takayasu bring his hands up to attempt a slap/pull down twice, each time it gave Hiradoumi a broad open attack lane to Takayasu’s chest. Hiradoumi maintained his hold, and used it to bodily drive Takayasu back, and a step later, out. Hiradoumi improves to 4-4.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Sadanoumi – Both of these rikishi started the day with a single win, and are struggling this March, possibly due to injuries. Today was the first day I saw Ichiyamamoto actually execute his “Brand of sumo”, and it was more than up to the task of putting Sadanoumi on the clay. He picks up a much needed second win to improve to 2-6.
Hokutofuji defeats Kotoshoho – Ok, that’s 4 consecutive wins for Hokutofuji after 4 consecutive losses. I am not sure what is going on with ole’Stompy, but maybe he was able to remediate whatever was sapping his power. He made lightning fast work of Kotoshoho, finishing his oshidashi with a flourish, now 4-4.
Midorifuji defeats Aoiyama – The undefeated leader of the yusho race picks up his kachi-koshi on day 8 by trading Aoiyama blow for blow, no easy task. I note with some interest that the moment Midorifuji is able to grapple Aoiyama’s enormous pasty body, Aoiyama lost his ability to fight. I am putting more belief that Big Dan is injured. Midorifuji’s hand placement was nearly perfect, and he drove Aoiyama out of the ring with a yorikiri, now 8-0.
Endo defeats Onosho – Impressive match from Endo today, he was forced to work left hand outside vs his preferred left hand inside, but still managed to get Onosho lifted up, then moved back and out by yorikir. Solid work for his 6th win to improve to 6-2.
Meisei defeats Ryuden – Ryuden continues to have nothing but clumsy moves and poor sumo in Osaka, I feel for the guy. Meisei dumps him to all fours at the tachiai, for an insta-win, ending the day at 4-4.
Daieisho defeats Abi – Abi used some of his rapid attack sumo today. It’s been a while since we have seen him launch his double arm thrusts this quickly. I think he knew the longer the match went, the more likely Daieisho would settle into his offense. It did not take long for this to come to pass, as Daieisho got his hands on Abi’s elbows, and used his long, extended arms a handlebars to drive him back out of the ring. Daieisho remains in the yusho hunt at 7-1.
Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi continues to lose matches, apparently due to damage to his undercarriage. Kotonowaka is able to push through his initial stance, with Tamawashi unable to reset his feet to defend. It’s a quick run to the east side and over the edge into a waiting Wakamotoharu. Kotonowaka now 6-2.
Shodai defeats Wakamotoharu – You have to give it to Shodai, when that guy is dialed into his sumo, he can make almost anyone look like a chump. He grabs Wakamotoharu in the tachiai, turns on the “Wall of Daikon” and just blasts forward. He completely overwhelms Wakamotoharu’s normally solid defense, and dumps him out of the ring on the east side, following a similar trajectory that Tamawashi took. Shodai now 6-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Nishikigi – Good for Wakatakakage, he does not Nishikigi set up that arm-bar, or try for a kotenage. He gets to keep his elbow intact. A quick tsukiotoshi, and Nishikigi is face down on the clay, and Wakatakakage is 3-5.
Kiribayama defeats Tobizaru – Without a doubt the highlight match of a very solid day of sumo. The clash of styles was tremendous to see, and their bottomless reservoirs of fighting spirit drove this match to dizzying heights. Kiribayama was power forward, Tobizaru was strike and shift, over and over again. It was glorious. When they go chest to chest, the action slows for a moment, before they try a mutual throw. Only by sheer force of will does Kiribayama land last. Brilliant sumo! Kiribayama now 5-3.
Hoshoryu defeats Mitakeumi – Hoshoryu showed some solid sumo today, and was able to covert his left hand inside to a double inside after struggling for control with Mitakeumi. Once he had his hands set, it was a quick lift and walk forward to secure his 5th win by yorikiri, now at 5-3.