Today, we close out the first week of sumo in Kyushu. It’s been a great tournament with a lot of great bouts and a compelling set of leaders. We got news that Asanoyama will be back for nakabi. He will need to win out in order to get a kachi-koshi. He doesn’t need any wins in order to stay in Makuuchi, so his determination to return is a bit of a puzzle…but it is what it is.
Tomokaze (5-2) defeated Roga (2-5). Roga tried a pull at the tachiai but Tomokaze showed him how to actually execute a slapdown. Hatakikomi
Tsurugisho (3-4) defeated Churanoumi (5-2). Tsurugisho got a quick grip of Churanoumi’s belt and pivoted on his good leg to throw Churanoumi out of the dohyo. Uwatenage
Churanoumi will face Tomokaze on Day 8. So far, Tomokaze has had Churanoumi’s number taking all three of their head-to-head matches to date.
Takarafuji (2-5) defeated Kitanowaka (3-4). Takarafuji shrugged off Kitanowaka’s initial charge, wrapped him up in a bear hug, and drove Kitanowaka back and over the bales. Yorikiri.
Kitanowaka will face Aoiyama tomorrow in their first meeting. “But Aoiyama’s in Juryo, Andy.” Yes, but Asanoyama will be back so we will get our first Juryo visit. Aoiyama has been getting his job done in the second division, priming himself for a return to Makuuchi in January. We’ll see if he can keep it up in week two. Kitanowaka, on the other hand, has fallen off pace since his strong start. Right that ship!
Oho (3-4) defeated Nishikifuji (2-5). Both men traded punishing blows. Oho tried three times to shift and pull Nishikifuji down. It finally worked on the third try. Hatakikomi.
Oho will take on Roga.
Sadanoumi (4-3) defeated Ichiyamamoto (6-1). Sadanoumi caught Ichiyamamoto’s right arm and used it to attempt a throw but Ichiyamamoto kept his balance and kept up his own attack. Sadanoumi just seemed impervious to Ichiyamamoto-zumo and drove Ichiyamamoto to the edge. You knew Ichiyamamoto was in trouble when he abandoned his brand of sumo entirely and tried to wrap up Sadanoumi on the belt. Sadanoumi kept up his forward pressure and forced Ichiyamamoto over the bales. Yorikiri.
Sadanoumi will face Nishikifuji. Ichiyamamoto will face Takarafuji. Takarafuji has owned Ichi so far in their rivalry, taking six of seven. But Ichiyamamoto has been fighting well. Can Ichiyamamoto keep pace and stay in the lead?
Ryuden (5-2) defeated Kotoeko (2-5). Kotoeko came tantalizingly close to a twisting throw of Ryuden, but Ryuden maintained his forward pressure and crushed Kotoeko, forcing him to fall over the bales. Yoritaoshi.
Mitakeumi (3-4) defeated Tohakuryu (2-5). Mitakeumi’s tsuppari was stronger than Tohakuryu’s. Mitakeumi drove forward and forced Tohakuryu back and out. Oshidashi.
Tamawashi (5-2) defeated Myogiryu (3-4). Tamawashi established his brand of sumo with a strong thrust to Myogiryu’s face at the tachiai. Once he got Myogiryu going back, he kept up that pressure and pushed him out. I think I would henka Tamawashi. That would be fun and much more pleasant than his claw on my chin. Oshidashi.
Tamawashi will face Tohakuryu in their first meeting tomorrow.
Hiradoumi (4-3) defeated Atamifuji (5-2). Atamifuji was in retreat mode this entire bout. He tried to counter at the edge but Hiradoumi was able to keep up the pressure and drove Atamifuji out. Gah!, this has been several bouts in a row where Atamifuji is fighting back against someone else’s style of sumo. Some, he’s effective with the counter and wins. But times like this, he loses. I feel he needs to establish his sumo first and blast people away rather than fight from behind. Yorikiri.
Hiradoumi will face a Tsurugisho who has somehow found a way to win a couple of bouts.
Shonannoumi (5-2) defeated Takanosho (3-4). Takanosho was busy trying to get a belt grip, Shonannoumi used a swim move to shrug Takanosho to the side. He then drove him down. Hatakikomi.
Shonannoumi will face Mitakeumi and Takanosho will face Atamifuji.
Hokuseiho (3-4) defeated Midorifuji (5-2). Hokuseiho is known as “tree” for his height. Midorifuji attempted a few kicks and throws while Hokuseiho contemplated the meaning of life and wondered, “what is my brand of sumo, anyway?” With his roots firmly established in Makuuchi, it is a bit late to be trying to figure that out. While Midorifuji kept kicking at the base of the tree the entire stadium seemed to be patiently waiting for Hokuseiho to actually launch an attack…for four full minutes, apparently. Mizu-iri, already? The gyoji paused the bout, marked their feet position with salt, and the two combatants went to get some power water before returning to their marks and re-establishing their grips. Maybe tree sumo is a bit like watching a tree grow. We need a drunk guy in the audience to shout, “つまらないぞ!” Finally, Midorifuji toppled the tree with a shitatenage…but like any lumberjack’s worst nightmare, the tree landed on him. Uwatenage.
Hokuseiho will face Ryuden. Ryuden won’t have the patience for this crap. Hokuseiho better be ready for some action. Midorifuji will face Myogiryu. So far, Myogiryu is winless against Midorifuji.
Endo (1-6) defeated Onosho (2-5). Onosho false start. Reset. Endo got in on the henka-action but Onosho caught him out. Onosho then started punishing Endo for his henka with powerful tsuppari. But Endo shrugged off the blows and pressed inside to get his hands on Onosho’s belt. Once he landed that second belt grip, he pulled Onosho forward to the clay. Tsukiotoshi. I thought it would be shitatenage but they know what they’re doing. I’m just happy Endo’s got one in the win column. I’d started to think he was just a massive Radiohead fan and got “Black Star” stuck in his head. (The good thing about getting that joke out now is that I can never use it again.)
Endo will face Kotoeko.
Nishikigi (5-2) defeated Kinbozan (3-4). As Kinbozan tried to pivot and throw Nishikigi, Nishikigi countered by just continuing to press forward. Kinbozan’s knee buckled and he tumbled to the floor. Yoritaoshi. Nishikigi continues his streak of five wins in a row.
Kinbozan will face Onosho.
Takayasu (4-3) defeated Meisei (1-6). Meisei locked in and tried to spin Takayasu down. Takayasu laid into Meisei with powerful tsuppari, forcing Meisei back. When Meisei got to the bales, Takayasu snapped him forward for a hatakikomi.
Ura (2-5) defeated Kotonowaka (6-1). I knew Kotonowaka was in trouble when Ura wasn’t immediately bouncing around the dohyo doing his best Tobizaru impression. Instead, Ura was patient. Why he chose today, I don’t know. The two locked horns and just when you thought we were settling in for “a lean,” Ura grabbed Kotonowaka’s arm and yanked him down. Tottari. Freaking brilliant. THIS is Ura-zumo. Not that hyper-active, sugar-high stuff from earlier in the week.
Ura will fight Takayasu.
Shodai (3-4) defeated Wakamotoharu (3-4). Shodai is actually trying and it’s awesome. He absorbed Wakamotoharu’s tachiai but from there he seized the initiative wrapped up Wakamotoharu and drove him back. WMH countered with his own charge but Shodai twisted at the edge, throwing Waka out. Both tumbled out at nearly the same time but Shodai clearly won this. but the shimpan are in disbelief so they needed a mono-ii to make sure they weren’t hallucinating. Gunbai-dori. Sukuinage.
Shodai will fight Kotonowaka. If Shodai brings it again, Kotonowaka will have his hands full.
Daieisho (5-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-5). Daieisho sumo. Powerful tsuppari. Hokutofuji tried to counter with two pull attempts but Daieisho was keyed in today. Hokutofuji hit his head when he fell, hard. Oshitaoshi.
Hoshoryu (6-1) defeated Abi (2-5). Hoshoryu seemed in a different world. Is it just me or was Hoshoryu late to get up on the dohyo. He’s probably thinking, “oh, I can scout out Abi from here. Oh, I’m supposed to fight Abi! Crap!” The thing about Abi-zumo is that Abi pitches forward with his arms extended. Hoshoryu shifted left, pulled on Abi’s right arm and got completely behind him at the edge. From there it was a simple push. Okuridashi.
Abi will face Daieisho. This is always an interesting bout since Daieisho-zumo is basically Abi-zumo, coming from down, up and without so many pulls and henkas. Hoshoryu will face the Spoiler King, Nishikigi.
Kirishima (5-2) defeated Tobizaru (2-5). Tobizaru resisted Kirishima’s initial charge but Kirishima followed up with a twisting throw. Sukuinage.
Kirishima will face Hokutofuji. This is sumo so there are no concussion protocols. Otherwise, Hokutofuji would be on the bench. I think he got his bell rung with that landing. Tobizaru will face Meisei in another interesting bout of complimentary styles.
Gonoyama (3-4) defeated Takakeisho (5-2). Pre-bout, there was an appreciative reaction from the crowd at the number of kensho banners. Just when you think the yobidashi are done, they come out with more! Gonoyama just provided everyone with a blueprint for defeating Takakeisho. Takakeisho’s sumo is like this, Step 1: Powerful “wave action” tsuppari. Step 2: Slapdown. Gonoyama hit T-Rex hard at the tachiai, sending him back a step. Takakeisho got the wave action going, pushed Gonoyama back to his shikirisen and moved on to step 2, the pull and slapdown. But Gonoyama had kept his wits about him and kept Takakeisho centered as he pressed forward and forced the Ozeki out. Fortunately for Takakeisho, our leaders lost, as well.
Gonoyama will face Wakamotoharu in their first meeting. The outcome may hinge on whether Gonoyama blows his kensho partying tonight. As Leonid predicted, Takakeisho will hope to bounce back against Asanoyama, who’s coming off the couch for some crazy reason.
After we got past the first few snoozer bouts, the action heated up and we got a lot of great sumo. The best of the day, though, was Gonoyama. Somehow, when I saw all of those kensho banners, I got a feeling the extra motivation might trigger an upset. Boy, howdy. Solid sumo from Goeido’s protege. The bummer here is that I think this solid sumo also illustrated all of the reasons that I am not ready for a Takakeisho rope run.
But with our leaders faltering, it’s still clearly a distinct possibility. The fact that Takakeisho now gets first dibs on a questionable Asanoyama, it leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth. I just want a Yokozuna to earn their rope when they show their best sumo, consistently. We get glimpses from T-Rex but, like today, he’s not blasting fools like he used to.