What an awesome day of sumo in Tokyo. The brawl to end it all did not disappoint, as we got to see Kiribayama try out his Ozeki grade sumo to see if he could best Terunofuji for the first time in 10 tries. He could not, and Terunofuji takes his 8th yusho in blazing form. Congratulations to the top man in the sport, it’s been a while since we have seen that kind of sumo.
Before the final match of the day decided the cup, we had 4 new kachi-koshi, congratulations to Nishikigi, Onosho, Hiradoumi (finally!), and Chiyoshoma. Really solid sumo, and well earned.
To set up tomorrow, Natsu heads into the final day with 6 rikishi having 7-7 scores. They are eligible for single elimination “Darwin” matches tomorrow. We could have had as many as 3 Darwin matches, but we will only get 2. Tobizaru will face Tamawashi, and Abi will face Ura.
Kagayaki defeats Oshoma – Now that he is make-koshi, Kagayaki seems to have remembered some of his sumo. If they find a way to keep him in the top division, I am going to probably be grumpy about it. Kagayaki takes the match by tsukidashi, brought on by solid inside lane thrusting that Oshoma could not counter, improving to 6-8.
Oho defeats Hokuseiho – Oho has the crummiest sumo of anyone I have ever seen score double digits. He’s sort of the inverse of Hokutofuji, who looks great but loses. Shodai used to do stuff like this too. It seems that Hokuseiho has two offensive routes he wants to use, both of which are figured out, and at least a dozen places where he’s weak, mostly around entangling those long legs. Oho fells him like a Scot’s Pine, and is double digits at 10-4.
Chiyoshoma defeats Ryuden – Chiyoshoma sets up an immediate left hand inside grip, and does a great job of constantly shifting Ryuden’s center of balance, wearing him down and aggravating any problems he is having with his chronic hip injury. At one point Ryuden tries to position for a throw, but ends up losing his balance, opening his stance and losing the match to a yorikiri. Chiyoshoma advances to 8-6 and is kachi-koshi.
Onosho defeats Daishoho – Onosho employs the classic way of “stand him up, slap him down” to take the match on the second volley. That’s 8 wins for him and he is kachi-koshi at 8-6.
Hiradoumi defeats Kotoeko – It took him five tries to get that 8th win, but I am happy to announce that Hiradoumi is finally kachi-koshi. At no point did Kotoeko present a credible offense, and I don’t think Hiradoumi was in any mood to allow him an opening.
Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama now has double digit losses for Natsu. I don’t think he’s at risk for boarding the barge to Juryo, but he has lost all defensive power for now. He will be 37 by the time Nagoya starts, and I have to wonder if he’s starting to figure that his body has had enough. Sadanoumi dominated him today, setting up a hold by the second step and running him out by yorikiri. Sadanoumi now 6-8.
Takanosho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Joining Aoiyama in the ranks of the double digit losses is Ichiyamamoto. At Maegashira 15, he may end up as the captain of the Juryo barge this time. Takanosho kept low, kept his hands in the inside lane and pushed with everything he could muster. Ichiyamamoto has very little defense right now, and was quickly moved out by oshidashi. Takanosho improves to 6-8.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitoryu – With his make-koshi secured, Hokutofuji is free to open up the throttle if he chooses. He makes fast work of Mitoryu, who joins the double digit loss club at the bottom of the banzuke. Hokutofuji with an oshidashi to advance his score to 6-8.
Myogiryu defeats Tamawashi – Myogiryu launched a bit early from the shikiri-sen, but nobody called a matta, and the fight was on. Tamawashi gave it everything he could muster today, but he’s not quite as healthy as Myogiryu this May. Myogiryu had a nice move to deflect Tamawashi away when he was rallying for win. The deflection left Tamawashi with his back to Myogiryu, and the resulting combo sent Tamawashi to the clay. Myogiryu now 9-5, Tamawashi now 7-7 and is eligible for a Darwin match tomorrow.
Kotoshoho defeats Takarafuji – How banged up is Takarafuji? He lost today to an injured Kotoshoho. There are starting to be some speculation that Takarafuji will retire. If he’s that hurt I can see him doing that, but I will miss his unique brand of sumo. Kotoshoho did a masterful job of tsuppari center-mass to keep Takarafuji on the move, and then out. Kotoshoho improves to 2-12.
Tobizaru defeats Mitakeumi – Tobizaru’s left hand frontal grip looked a bit worrisome, and it seems to get Mitakeumi off his sumo from the tachiai. I think that Tobizaru also decided he was not going to try and win a match by naniyotsu, and went for a morozashi double inside grip instead. A quick yorkiri, and Tobizaru is 7-7, and eligible for a Darwin match tomorrow.
Takayasu defeats Nishikifuji – Blistering attack from Takayasu at the first step. He had Nishikifuji unable to counter, or keep his balance. A quick tour of the ring as Nishikifuji tried to evade, and a tsukidashi for Takayasu’s second win of the basho, he is now 2-12.
Nishikigi defeats Abi – Abi had one double arm attack, and that move to break away from Nishikigi was superb. Abi lost his balance, and Nishikigi dropped him to the clay by oshitaoshi. That’s kachi-koshi for Nishikigi at 8-6, Abi at 7-7 and is Darwin bound.
Midorifuji defeats Kinbozan – If you are going to take your first ever professional career make-koshi, you might as well make it a big one. Kinbozan started strong, and was moving toward a win. But he lost his balance, and Midorifuji finished him with a hikiotoshi. Kinbozan now at 4-10 while Midorifuji improves to 6-8.
Kotonowaka defeats Ura – Ura, quite the match, I love the wrist bender ottsuke you put on Kotonowaka. That looked like absolute hell for him. Kotonowaka was able to eventually free that hand, but Ura had an excellent defensive hold in place. They stalemated until Ura decided to try a pull and slap combo that hit well, but the timing was poor. Kotonowaka went down and Ura stepped out together. There was a monoii, and rather than have a rematch, the judges reversed the goyji’s decision and awarded the win to Kotonowaka. Both end the day 7-7 and are eligible for Darwin matches tomorrow.
Asanoyama defeats Shodai – Straightforward attack at the tachiai by Asanoyama gave him a solid body hold. He drove Shodai to the bales and finished him with a yoritaoshi to pick up his 11th win. He’s not quite back to Ozeki power, but I think this basho has informed him of that, and I would expect he redoubles his training. I do miss the smiles he would beam follow his matches, win or lose, that were the hallmark of his early career. Asanoyama now 11-3 while Shodai is make-koshi at 6-8.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho stays on the narrow path to double digits, narrowly avoiding a mid-match step out and rallying to get Meisei off balance and down by tsukitaoshi. Not normally how Daieisho would like to fight, but it’s a win regardless, he is 9-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Tsurugisho – I am fairly sure that Tsurugisho did not want to give Hoshoryu a double inside grip on the second step. He tried an arm lock on Hoshoryu, but he does not have Terunofuji’s height or strength. Hoshoryu worked to unbalance Tsurugisho, then threw him down by sukuinage to improve to 10-4.
Wakamotoharu defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho has his 8, I think we should all be glad he got there, and I am pretty sure that both days 14 and 15 are him showing up to make sure his opponent has their fight. With luck he will get treatment or whatever he needs for his knees and can be back strong for July. Takakeisho know he has no forward power today, so takes to trying to slap Wakamotoharu silly with big, round house hits to the face. Wakamotoharu endures them as best he can, focuses center mass and ejects the Ozeki by oshitaoshi, improving to 10-4.
Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama gave the Yokozuna a solid fight, but one of the great hallmarks of Terunofuji 2.0 is his patience. Granted its been six months since he had a worthy opponent for this kind of sumo, so many forgot. They may have thought “Oh no, the Yokozuna is in trouble!”. Nah, he’s just getting it all together at his own pace. Kiribayama does a marvelous job of blocking Terunofuji’s favorite attack routes, and forces the Yokozuna to go defensive. Absolutely superb lower body defensive sumo from Terunofuji this match, go watch and study that. Coupled with that left arm ottsuke that shut down Kiribayama’s right, he stalemated Kiribayama and shut down the attack. Sumo fans, it’s been some time since I have been able to use the tag “Terunofuji’s angry yorikiri”, but look at that finish. Nodowa and a toss into the camera club. 13-1, and an 8th yusho for Yokozuna Terunofuji. He is awarded a diorama of the Yokosuka sea wall made out of kensho envelopes.