Introductory news of day 8 is that former Ozeki Asanoyama has withdrawn from competition citing problems with his left bicep. In his day 7 match against Hoshoryu, it seems Asanoyama injured that muscle and its associated tissue, and will wisely decide not to pull a Kisenosato by letting it recover. This will set back Asanoyama’s hopes of climbing the ranks by at least 4 months.
The leader group has narrowed to three: Hoshoryu, Nishikigi and Hokutofuji. None of them have prior yusho experience, and in my mind this is going to be a total toss up. There are 6 rikishi one win behind, and week 2 is going to be a rolling battle to sort that group out.
I would be remiss if I did not revisit a the subject of tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke. It’s been some time since he was declared a “hazard to the proper conduct of honbasho”, but that session in the middle of the final match today even had the shimpan a bit unhappy. Maybe it’s time for him to hang up the gumbai?
Ryuden defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto still does not have his first win after Ryuden sets up a solid hold at the tachiai and simply muscles him back and out. I am sure Ichiyamamoto came back from kyujo to try and find any win he can, but that was a tough way to return, he is now 0-8 while Ryuden improves to 4-4.
Daishoho defeats Aoiyama – I am starting to accept that Aoiyama is just too banged up to execute “his brand of sumo” right now. He willingly goes chest to chest with Daishoho, with poor results. Whatever injuries Aoiyama is trying to work through have limited his mobility and his forward power. Daishoho now 3-5, Aoiyama possibly on the barge to Juryo for September.
Hakuoho defeats Shonannoumi – Shonannoumi gets a right hand inside at the tachiai, and looks to have a strong early position. But watch what Hakuoho does to counter that advantage – that’s some of the more clever, coordinated and energetic reactive sumo I have seen in a while. Shonannoumi finds he can’t maintain his grip, or his stance, as Hakuoho continues to disrupt him, shoving Shonannoumi out as he struggles to set his feet. Brilliant defensive work, Hakuoho now 6-2.
Endo defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho looked to be to keep his mawashi far enough back from Endo that he could not set up a grip. This worked, but left Kotoshoho leaning too far forward, and Endo brought him down with a tottari, advancing to 6-2.
Takarafuji defeats Kotoeko – Takarafuji did a great job of capturing Kotoeko’s upper body while he was pushing Takarafuji back to set up a yorikiri. But at the bales Takarafuji was able to move to the side and twist back and down to drop Kotoeko for the win. Takarafuji now 6-2.
Tsurugisho defeats Bushozan – Tsurugisho’s does not see to have a lot of forward power this July, and today he quickly moved from thrusting attack at the tachiai to pulling Bushozan down. Fast work and Tsurugisho is now 2-6.
Chiyoshoma defeats Kinbozan – I was surprised that Kinbozan allowed Chiyoshoma to change his grip at the third step. This set up the throw that put Kinbozan on the clay and handed him his 4th loss. Chiyoshoma now 5-3 with some nice moves today.
Myogiryu defeats Gonoyama – Gonoyama has now lost three in a row, and I wonder if it’s injury, nerves or a bug in his real time sumo operating system. I like how Myogiryu focused center-mass immediately at the tachiai, breaking Gonoyama’s stance. Good move at the bales by Gonoyama to try and stop the force out, but the slap down was too late, Myogiryu took the match and advances to 4-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Takayasu – When Hokutofuji is dialed into his sumo, his lower body is akin to the 1980s and 1990s Chicago Bears. No matter what crummy stuff might be happening offensively (Hokutofuji’s upper body), the defense (lower body) may just carry the day. Thought the hazu (armpit) grip that Hokutofuji sets up as he starts to push Takayasu back is damn near perfect. Hokutofuji maintains his portion of the lead at 7-1.
Takanosho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi attempted an angled strike at the tachiai, but rather than put Takanosho off balance, it left Tamawashi on the wrong foot. Takanosho countered with expert hand placement center mass and quickly moved to push Tamawashi out by oshidashi, dropping Tamawashi out of the leader group. Takanosho now 3-5.
Hokuseiho defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi worked hard to keep an ottsuke in place to block Hokuseiho’s right hand. It only worked for a short time, and then Sadanoumi found he had no tools left to counter the shitatenage. 4th win for Hokuseiho at 4-4.
Hiradoumi defeats Nishikifuji – Both men got into an energetic battle for grip which saw them rapidly change foot placement to break the other’s grip. But Nishikifuji lost track of his spot in the ring, and hopped out as he was moving to pull Hiradoumi forward. Hiradoumi now 3-5.
Oho defeats Onosho – Oho took full advantage of Onosho’s tendency toward having his weight too far forward, timing a slap on the back and step to the left to send Onosho out of the ring and into the front row, much to that lady in blue’s delight. Both end the day 3-5.
Meisei defeats Mitakeumi – Meisei delivered a nice combo attack at the tachiai that raised Mitakeumi’s center of gravity, allowing Meisei to push from underneath. Great sumo fundamentals to set up the yorikiri against a bigger opponent. Meisei now 4-4.
Nishikigi defeats Tobizaru – Nishikigi’s stand-up tachiai was a risky move, but I think given his poor eyesight and the chances that Tobizaru would try a lateral combo at the open, it was the safe bet. Tobizaru went directly into Nishikigi’s grip, which Nishikigi converted to a combo arm-bar and forearm to Tobizaru’s throat. An oshidashi finished him, and Nishikigi stays with the leader group at 7-1.
Abi defeats Shodai – Straight Abi-zumo win. Sadly Shodai had no counter moves today, and simply just rode the tsuki express to the Ryogoku station. Abi now 4-4.
Hoshoryu defeats Ura – Quite the rational strategy from Hoshoryu. Ura is going to come in super low, why not just see if you can help him travel the rest of the distance to the clay. It took two tries to get the hatakikomi, but it worked. Hoshoryu improves to 7-1 and stays in the leader group.
Wakamotoharu defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka’s surge from the tachiai was almost enough to carry the match. But once Wakamotoharu’s heels touched straw, he rallied. The counter attack was enough to break Kotonowaka’s stance, which he was never able to recover. A quick walk to the east side bales, and it was yorikiri time. Wakamotoharu now 6-2.
Midorifuji defeats Kirishima – Kirishima was able to capture Midorifuji by the second step, and the two battled it out chest to chest. Some excellent move and counter move from both of them, and it turned into an endurance battle. As they leaned into each other, to my surprise, Inosuke ordered them to halt. I guess he wanted to cinch up Kirishima’s mawashi? Looked ok to me. Nah? not right? Get a yobidashi in to help too. Hell, I am sure there is at least someone from the fashion industry in the crowd, why not call them down too? Inosuke seems to get a bit lost, time to talk to the shimpan too! After all that haberdashery, the fight resumes to see Midorifuji finally put that left hand frontal grip to work, tossing Kirishima down and out of the ring. Weird match, but sure… Midorifuji 2-6. The crowd in Nagoya, amped up at the thoughts of a wardrobe malfunction that almost was, throws cushions in celebration.