Natsu Day 9 Preview

An orderly honbasho has a distinct tempo and cadence, and follows a well known pattern. Natsu 2022 refuses to conform. We are about to start week 2, and there is really not a yusho race to discuss or focus upon. Sure, there are a set of folks with the highest score going into day 9, but none of them are really dominating the tournament. Worse yet, the groups behind them reach all the way down to the 4-4 group that are in the middle of the funnel towards Darwin matches on day 15. Madness and chaos.

If we look at the yusho race, the highest possible score would now be 13-2. But there is zero chance that anyone who is a leader right now can or will win out. How low will the yusho score go? 12-3? 11-4? a 10-5? Right now sumo has a talent problem, and maybe a health problem.

First up is the beloved by weak Yokozuna. He was always a limited time offer, and we all knew his knees were going to take him out sooner or later. If we go by last basho and this one, the result here is “sooner”. This is really a bit of a tragedy, as right now sumo needs at least one Yokozuna. But surely there is a rising star waiting in the wings, on the cusp of winning back to back yusho and claim the rope, right?

O1E Mitakeumi: 4-4
O1W Shodai: 2-6 (should be 1-7)
O2E Takakeisho 5-3

No sir, these guys will be lucky to get to kachi-koshi in a basho where the Yokozuna can’t really fight, one of the Sekiwake is headed for make-koshi, and the only sure thing in san’yaku are the Komusubi.

I don’t know if the NSK coaches these top men of sumo on their performance, but if they do I would not want to be in the room following this basho when they discuss if they are worthy to hold their ranks.

But let’s not single out the san’yaku. There are (checks his math) TWENTY BLOODY EIGHT rikishi that are right now in the funnel. These are sumotori who can’t dominate their matches enough to have a strong winning record, and are riding the make/kachi-koshi line. Is the competition that tough? Or is everyone just phoning it in right now?

Alright, back to day 9. Goal for today is to winnow down the leader group, and pray that someone is at 7 wins at the end of the day. Keep the funnel crew straddling the center line, and beat the make-koshi bracket into a pulp.

Natsu Leaderboard

Its a hot, steaming mess right now. There are 5 rikishi with not very impressive records (6-2) that share the lead right now. The Chasers are part of the funnel, and the hunt group is the middle of the funnel. I am sure there are some old timers who might tell me this is how it always was “back in the day”, but I have never seen a start to week 2 like this. How does it end? I guess we can only watch and learn.

Leaders: Tamawashi, Takanosho, Aoiyama, Sadanoumi, Ichiyamamoto
Chasers: Too numerous to list
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

7 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 9

Chiyonokuni vs Midorifuji – Ah, dear Chiyonokuni comes up to visit from Juryo. But he’s not one we are looking to see return to the top division in July. Having just a 2-6 record right now, he’s headed lower than his J2 rank right now. Midorifuji clocks in at 4-4, and needs wins to stay in the funnel.

Oho vs Kotokuzan – Both of these guys are on the make-koshi track right now, with Oho needing wins just to make it back into the funnel. A Kotokuzan loss today would be make-koshi for him, so maybe Oho can overcome the 1-3 career disadvantage.

Chiyotairyu vs Meisei – Another funnel match, we get Chiyotairyu with five straight wins against 4-4 Meisei. A Meisei win would pull Chiyotairyu back into the funnel, but a Chiyotairyu win would allow him to escape. Stand him up, knock him down.

Kagayaki vs Sadanoumi – Kagayaki gets a pretty tough match against one of the co-leaders, as speed demon Sadanoumi comes down the banzuke to deliver some doom to the lowest ranking fellow in the top division. Kagayaki has taken 7 of their prior 17 matches, but there is no way he is fighting well enough to present much of a challenge to Sadanoumi right now.

Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyoshoma – Ichiyamamoto in the leader group at 6-2 up against funnel fixture Chiyoshoma. I do not find this match an easy take for Ichiyamamoto at all, and I think that Chiyoshoma is going to probably put him on the clay. This is in spite of Ichiyamamoto winning their only prior match. Chiyoshoma has won his last two, and is just starting to peek, so hopefully we can get some solid sumo from him today.

Kotoshoho vs Azumaryu – Funnel bracket match. Kotoshoho has a 4-1 career advantage over 4-4 Azumaryu. A Kotoshoho win will elevate him into the actual yusho track group, and push Azumaryu further down into the funnel.

Yutakayama vs Terutsuyoshi – Man, where to start with this. This match exemplifies my suspicion of folks “phoning it in”. Both of them are on the make-koshi path right now, and both of them are top flight talent. What the hell, boys? They have an even split to their prior 11 matches, and frankly I want Terutsuyoshi to win this one to help ensure a Yutakayama make-koshi at this point.

Shimanoumi vs Myogiryu – Another funnel bracket match. Both are 4-4, though Myogiryum has a 7-1 career advantage. Shimanoumi only recently was able to shed his ring rust, and has won 4 of the last 5. Maybe he can take this one today. Win or lose, both will stay in the funnel for now.

Aoiyama vs Kotoeko – Schedulers would like co-leader Aoiyama to be part of the yusho race, and given how things are going, I strongly agree. he has a solid chance of besting Kotoeko today, but should he fail, he will be in the funnel. That’s how impoverished the leader board is right now.

Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – I feel really sad for Takarafuji, and I hate to think this could be goodbye for him. I don’t know if he will be able to overcome fellow yotsu-zumo practitioner Nishikigi, but you have to hope that at some point he will pick up a few wins and save himself a trip to Juryo.

Tochinoshin vs Wakamotoharu – Another funnel match, I think both of them will agree to go chest to chest, and what happens after that is a good question. I think Tochinoshin has worked on alternates to his sumo style enough that he does not require his big left hand outside grip now, but will certainly make use of it should he get there. From sheer bulk, advantage Tochinoshin.

Ura vs Okinoumi – Funnel time again. An Ura loss will push him back into the middle of the funnel, a win would kick him into the sort kinda yusho track. Okinoumi is very much hit or miss right now, but both have won their last two matches.

Endo vs Tamawashi – Unless he gets a win today, Endo is on the make-koshi track for Natsu. He faces Tamawashi, who is one of the co-co-co-leaders, and frankly the best be to the yusho – at least for now. Tamawashi also holds a 16-12 career advantage over Endo.

Hokutofuji vs Kotonowaka – It should surprise no one that Hokutofuji is on the make-koshi track, he is the man with the “Most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, and he’s going to be owning one of those for Natsu in short order. He has a 1-1 record against Kotonowaka, who at 4-4 is in the funnel.

Kiribayama vs Daieisho – Not sure if this is a yusho track match, or the high side of the funnel, as both are 5-3. So I would guess that the winner is in the yusho track group, the loser is in the funnel. My money is on Kiribayama for the win today.

Hoshoryu vs Takayasu – Sadly Takayasu is on the make-koshi track this May, but he come in with a 4-0 advantage over Hoshoryu. Should Takayasu win, he would be able to fight his way back into the funnel, while pulling Hoshoryu in from the high side as well. Go get ’em papayasu!

Abi vs Shodai – After day 8 on Sunday, maybe someone wanted to see what crazy might look like, and this could be the match where we see it. Abi has a 4-6 career deficit against Shodai, and Shodai is headed (for now) squarely at a kadoban infused make-koshi. We all know he could bash the stuffing out of everyone he faced for the next seven days if he can get his body and his sumo to line up. Maybe he will…

Mitakeumi vs Takanosho – Mitakeumi is in the middle of the funnel at 4-4, Takanosho is coming in from a kinboshi against Yokozuna Terunofuji, and is one of the co-leaders. A loss to Mitakeumi today pulls him out of the lead, and maybe back into the funnel (this is how screwed up the yusho race is now). A Mitakeumi loss today may doom him to be kadoban in front of his home town crowd in July.

Wakatakakage vs Takakeisho – Oh my, this match may not look like much on the surface, but let’s peel back a layer or two. Wakatakakage is very close to being pushed into the make-koshi track, another loss should do it. Takakeisho is very close to the yusho track right now, another win should do it. Takakeisho has a 5-2 career advantage over Wakatakakage, so he’s got a definite edge. Oh, and Wakatakakage could “win out” with 7 more white stars and keep his Ozeki bid alive for July to hit 33. Now that would be a huge comeback story indeed.

Terunofuji vs Tobizaru – I just want Terunofuji to finish this basho without additional injuries to his knees or anything else. If you watch the dohyo-iri, you can see how tender his lower body is. Both of these rikishi start the day at 5-3.

Natsu Day 8 Highlights

Dear lord, what a mess. As previewed last night, the yusho race was a chaotic jumble, but with the results of day 8 in the books, it’s actually somewhat worse now. A few years ago, we worried that the top division was starting to look more like Juryo, where nobody was really dominant, and everyone kind of milled about having sumo matches and winning a few here and there. I think it may have been Josh who described it first. Sometimes when you see the possibility of something stupid, people use a bit of hyperbole as a warning against trying the stupid thing out. Well, here we are.

The two guys was 1 loss picked up their second loss, several of the rikishi with 2 losses picked up their third, and the whole assembly has failed to differentiate itself from the funnel by the end of day 8. This could in fact end up with a multiple way 10-5 yusho playoff on the final day. It may be kind of exciting to watch, but its really bad for sumo.

How did it get to this? We have an injured Yokozuna, and a moribund Ozeki corps. Out of the 4 of them, only two have winning records, and neither winning record is strong. I joked earlier in the basho about angry old men faxing hate notes to the NSK, but if you want to hear the Yokozuna Deliberation Council get spun up, just let things continue as they are going now.

Highlight Matches

Kotokuzan defeats Hidenoumi – Kotokuzan finally picks up his first win, which was a bit of a surprise. I think a middling Juryo rikishi is probably the right opponent for this poor fellow, and he will do much better there. Soon enough. He improves to 1-7.

Chiyotairyu defeats Azumaryu – Chiyotairyu did work on the traditional formula of “Stand him up and throw him down”, but the part where he took Azumaryu down was a bit more exotic than his normal form. Placing a left arm around Azumaryu’s waist, it was a mad dance across the dohyo with Azumaryu landing outside the bales. Chiyotairyu improves to 5-3 with five straight wins.

Meisei defeats Midorifuji – First in our category of “What the hell was that?” is this match. Reasonable tachiai, then Midorifuji leaps to the side and tries for a some kind of slap down, completely misses any part of Meisei’s body, and pancakes himself to the clay. Kimarite was assigned as “tsukite”, a non winning move. Both end the day in the middle of the funnel at 4-4.

Yutakayama defeats Myogiryu – Yutakayama refuses to drop out of the bottle edge of the funnel, on to the make-koshi track, with a win today. Yutakayama showed some really solid foot work today, and it kept him in the match. He was able to get Myogiryu turned to the side, and then walked him out from behind. Yutakayama improves to 3-5.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Sadanoumi – Ichiyamamoto knocks Sadanoumi out of the lead. He delivers a strong tachiai, and begins his thrusting attack. Sadanoumi pays off as he is able to get to the side of, and behind Ichiyamamoto, and works to push him out from behind. But somehow Ichiyamamoto reaches around and slaps him out of the ring. Crazy sloppy sumo, but brilliant at the same time. Mark this as another in the “What the hell was that?” group. Both end the day at 6-2.

Nishikigi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had the offense, the body position and the foot work here today. But he was not able to keep his balance at the edge when Nishikigi slapped him to the side, and he toppled out of the ring. Nishikigi improves to 4-4 and remains in the funnel.

Kotoshoho defeats Oho – Oho gave it a good try today, but Kotoshoho kept his balance, kept centered and endured Oho’s early attacks. As well as Oho was doing, he could not find enough power to get Kotoshoho out or down. Kotoshoho found a moment where Oho’s feet were poorly placed, and swung him around, sending him out of the ring. Kotoshoho improves to 5-3.

Shimanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Shimanoumi did a great job of shutting down every attack attempt that Terutsuyoshi employed. After stalemating at the center of the ring, Shimanoumi advanced and drove Terutsuyoshi from the ring. Shimanoumi improves to 4-4.

Chiyoshoma defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji was able to set up and execute his “Defend and extend” brand of sumo, but it was still a loss for him today. He has a perfect 0-8 make-koshi at this point, and its frankly a bit depressing. It was an excellent endurance battle, and I gave Takarafuji high marks for keeping the sumo on his terms for that long. Chiyoshoma now 4-4, in the middle of the funnel.

Okinoumi defeats Kotoeko – After a flurry of grip changes following the tachiai, the two locked up chest to chest in the middle of the ring. Okinoumi used the moment to consolidate his grip with his left, then advanced and attempted a uwatenage, which took Kotoeko out of the ring. Both finish 4-4 are are inducted into the funnel.

Ura defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin did not reach for his left hand outside grip at the tachiai, instead focusing on setting up a left hand nodowa, perhaps trying to keep Ura back. It was pretty clear Ura was setting up and under shoulder swing down, and Tochinoshin rushed to push Ura out before he could complete the motion. He did not make it, and hit the deck before Ura tumbled off the dohyo. The win improves Ura to 5-3.

Wakamotoharu defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama put all of his chips on a slap / pull down as his second step, and he never got that far. With Aoiyama’s chest wide open, Wakamotoharu attacked center mass, and drove Aoiyama from the ring. Great, efficient and effective sumo from Wakamotoharu, dropping Aoiyama out of the lead, and elevating his score to 5-3.

Tamawashi defeats Tobizaru – Superior focus and concentration by Tamawashi today was the key to this win. He did not worry about what kind of crazy stuff Tobizaru might produce, he found his mark at the top of Tobizaru’s chest, and just went to work. Sumo’s flying monkey could not hold ground under that attack, and was quickly sent back out of the east side from whence he came. Tamawashi improves to 6-2 and is, oddly enough, now a co-leader.

Kiribayama defeats Hokutofuji – Kiribayama affirms Hokutofuji make-koshi track by attacking strongly into a Hokutofuji pulling attempt at the second step. A rapid oshidashi, and Kiribayama is 5-3.

Kotonowaka defeats Wakatakakage – Well, it was high time for another WTF moment. Wakatakakage was fighting well, he had superior body position, and was in charge of this match. He surged forward to take Wakatakakage out of the ring. But as Kotonowaka is spread-eagle, toppling forward, somehow that right hand mawashi grip provides just enough leverage to swing Wakatakakage out before Kotonowaka can hit the clay. Ok, not sure what is going on here, but that was odd. Kotonowaka goes to 4-4, and is part of the funnel.

Abi defeats Takayasu – Much love for Takayasu, I have been a fan for a long time, but he just can’t compete at this level any more. Sure he can mount the dohyo and look large and burly, but Abi completely dominated him today. In fact Abi has won every match since he came back from his suspension. Abi improves to 5-3.

Mitakeumi defeats Endo – Endo was so low at the tachiai, I would guess he was counting grains of sand on the dohyo. When presented with a low flying Endo, why not just crush him down to the clay? Mitakeumi did, and picked up his 4th win.

Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Takakeisho was firing hard at center-mass, but Daieisho was able to get his feet on the bales, and rather than try to power through that, he chose to pull Daieisho forward. Risky move, as Daieisho almost kept him feet, but a well placed push downward on Daieisho’s shoulder sent him to the clay, and both men end the day 5-3.

Shodai defeats Hoshoryu – It it was “What the hell was that?” day, you know Shodai had to play his part. The real Shodai was on the clay today, and completely overwhelmed Hoshoryu. Well, at least until they got to the edge of the ring. Watching the replay, it was not clear that Shodai did not touch down and out first. Probably should have been a monoii, but they never called it. At least Shodai could get a second win, improving to 2-6.

Takanosho defeats Terunofuji – Terunofuji’s defense failed, as he let Takanosho get a solid grip and advance strongly against the Yokozuna. Terunofuji attempted a rescue throw, but his foot had already stepped on the janome outside of the ring, and it’s kinboshi time for Takanosho, as he improves to a co-lead spot with 6-2.

Natsu Nakabi (Day 8) Preview

Welcome to nakabi! The middle day of the basho. This Natsu feels very odd to me, its as if I am still waiting for the real fight to get started. Maybe its because the Ozeki and most of the san’yaku are having such a terrible time of it, I am wondering when practice is over and when honbasho gets started. But not only has it started, we are now half way through. I am going to indulge myself just a tad – there is only one Ozeki right now with a winning record: Takakeisho (4-3). Everyone else is still trying to figure out how to walk and talk on the cell phone at the same time. By the way, don’t try that in Tokyo.

Nakabi is always my favorite day of the basho. It’s been going on long enough, everyone should be in as close to fighting form as they can manage, none of the big questions are really resolved yet, and everyone has to show up and put forth an effort. Will we get a mad cap stomping good day of sumo? Maybe so. But as it is nakabi, we take our first look at the leader board.

Natsu Leaderboard

It is an odd basho indeed, as the “Hunt Group” overlaps the funnel. normally by the middle of the basho, you have sorted folks into a “Yusho track”, a “Darwin track”, and a “Barge of the damned” track. But with us having a pair of mid-Maegashira with 1 loss leading right now, the leader board has about 12 rikishi at the high side of the funnel as part of the leader board. The schedulers have some ideas about getting this sorted out, as we will see today.

Leaders: Aoiyama, Sadanoumi
Chasers: Terunofuji, Hoshoryu, Daieisho, Tamawashi, Takanosho, Tobizaru, Ichiyamamoto
Hunt Group: Too numerous to list

8 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotokuzan vs Hidenoumi – Today it’s Hidenoumi’s turn to visit the top division, and I would guess he will hand Kotokuzan his make-koshi and his return ticket to Juryo. What oh what happened to this guy? I just hope he can regroup and give it another try soon. This is the first time these two have fought, but given Kotokuzan’s sumo this May, it won’t be too much of a contest.

Chiyotairyu vs Azumaryu – Funnel match, the winner will be positioned to exit the funnel and join the yusho track should they win again tomorrow. Of course the schedulers want to make sure that never happens. So I give Chiyotairyu and edge here, as he is on a 4 match winning streak, and seems to have the “stand them up, slap them down” combo ready at a moment’s notice.

Midorifuji vs Meisei – First time match, both are in the funnel group. Ideally to keep them both in the funnel, Meisei will pick up his 4th win today to send them both to 4-4 for Monday. As far as Meisei, he’s already exceeded his terrible 1-14 result from Osaka.

Myogiryu vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama is probably in the “damned” group as of today, but a loss to Myogiryu would likely seal his fate. Myogiryu has a 4-2 career advantage, and has won 2 of his last 3 matches.

Ichiyamamoto vs Sadanoumi – Yusho track match, co-leader Sadanoumi. takes on chaser Ichiyamamoto in their second career match. Sadanoumi’s advantage is speed, but he will need to avoid Ichiyamamoto’s double arm thrust to start the match, or risk never getting his feet set to attack.

Kagayaki vs Nishikigi – Funnel track match, both of them are 3-4 to start today, and the loser will drop into the “damned” group to slog it out to minimize their make-koshi. Kagayaki has a 9-7 narrow career advantage, but at this point I think he should just get a big wide make-koshi and see if the banzuke kami can save him yet again.

Kotoshoho vs Oho – I really want Kotoshoho to prevail in this funnel track match, although it would work best for the funnel for the win to go to Oho, causing them both to be 4-4 at the end of the day. Kotoshoho has won his last 2, and I have to hope he’s got his sumo sorted out.

Shimanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – Shimanoumi has a 11-4 career advantage, and needs a win today to keep himself in the middle of the funnel. But I honestly think its about Terutsuyoshi had a hot streak, and I would be overjoyed to see him put Shimanoumi on the clay today.

Takarafuji vs Chiyoshoma – Well, unless something really odd happens, Chiyoshoma will deliver the 8th loss to struggling Takarafuji. I guess it’s time to ask lksumo just how possible it is that dear Takarafuji might be demoted to Jury if he can’t find any wins in the next week.

Okinoumi vs Kotoeko – Another funnel track match, Okinoumi at 3-4 has a 4-2 career advantage over 4-3 Kotoeko. An Okinoumi win would put them both at that much hoped for 4-4 result, locking them into the funnel for the following 2 days.

Ura vs Tochinoshin – High interest match here, as I expect Ura to catch Tochinoshin about 2 seconds before Tochinoshin captures Ura with that left hand outside grip. What happens after that initial merge might be wild and unpredictable. Both are 4-3, so the loser gets pushed back into the middle of the funnel, and the winner has a chance to escape with a win on Monday.

Aoiyama vs Wakamotoharu – Yusho race impacting match, Wakamotoharu is in the funnel group, but he is being given a chance to knock Aoiyama down with a second loss. They have two prior matches, and it comes as no surprise that Aoiyama won his by hatakikomi. Advice to Wakamotoharu, mind your balance sir!

Tobizaru vs Tamawashi – A yusho track match, one of these me will be pushed back to the funnel group with a loss today. Tobizaru has won their 2 prior meetings, but I have to give extra consideration to Tamawashi, who has been fighting very well this May. Tobizaru will try to stay mobile and just out of range of Tamawashi’s oshi-zumo.

Kiribayama vs Hokutofuji – I think this match exists to give Kiribayama a chance to climb out of the funnel group. But then again, someone had to fight Hokutofuji. Kiribayama has a 2-1 career record against him, and Hokutofuji has been pretty rough this may at 2-5, but did win over hapless Shodai on day 7.

Wakatakakage vs Kotonowaka – I am standing by my prediction of a Wakatakakage make-koshi this time out. This is a funnel match, and the winner will join the 4-4 group at the center of the funnel on Monday, and the loser will likely join the “damned” track. Wakatakakage has won all 4 of their prior matches, so chances are high that he will pick up his 4th win today.

Takayasu vs Abi – Takayasu is clearly on a make-koshi track right now, but has a chance to claw his way up into the funnel with a win over Abi. An Abi loss would send him into the 4-4 crowd on Monday, and ensure he was part of the cohort being funneled toward a 7-7 score to start day 15. Takayasu has a narrow 4-3 career advantage.

Mitakeumi vs Endo – Mitakeumi, what the hell? This is a funnel track match, both are 3-4. Mitakeumi can win today (he has a 12-7 career advantage) and stay with the funnel group at 4-4 for Monday, or he can just decided to join the track headed for make-koshi and prepare for kadoban in front of the home town crowd in July. Grim.

Daieisho vs Takakeisho – Besties Battle Bigly, these two have a 19 match career history with Takakeisho leading 12-7. Daieisho at 5-2 is part of the yusho track, but a loss today would pull him down into the funnel track. High stakes for a pair of good friends with offense heavy sumo.

Hoshoryu vs Shodai – Hoshoryu has a 4-1 career advantage over Shodai, who is (no kidding) 1-6 to start the day. He is just one win ahead of hapless Takarafuji and Juryo bound Kotokuzan. This guy needs an overhaul. Maybe his body, maybe his sumo, can’t really tell right now, but he’s not even close to Ozeki sumo right now.

Terunofuji vs Takanosho – Both are 5-2, and I would ideally like to see both Aoiyama and Sadanoumi pick up losses today, and Terunofuji win to ensure he is part of the group that is driving toward the yusho. I think he’s pretty banged up right now, but soldiering on because of his rank and his dedication to sumo. Given the chaos in the yusho race, he may as well be the one to take the cup next Sunday.

Natsu Day 7 Highlights

I am happy to note that the intensity of the sumo continues to move a notch higher with each passing day. The work to begin a “Darwin Funnel” worked a treat, and a unthinkable 22 rikishi are 3-4 or 4-3 at the end of day 7. The goal now is to have those 22 remain locked in battle against each other for the next 7 days to deliver as many of them to 7-7 scores at the end of next Saturday, setting up a roster of “Darwin Matches” to decide a winning or losing record for each.

The Ozeki continue to be a worry, and it’s pretty much a given now that at least two of them are likely to end up kadoban for Nagoya. Shodai, specifically, is 1-6, and could be make-koshi as early as Monday if he continues to lose each day. With tonight’s day 8 preview, we will take our first look at the Natsu leader board, and right now it’s a real head scratcher, with two guys from the middle third of the banzuke in command of the race.

Highlight Matches

Chiyomaru defeats Kagayaki – For this match, Kagayaki did not get the inside lane for his hands, or really very good position at all in the tachiai. As a result, Chiyomaru controlled this match start to finish, and made quick work moving him out of the ring. At Juryo 1, Chiyomaru can likely make it back to the top division with a simple 8 win kachi-koshi. He improves to 5-2.

Oho defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama has now lost 5 in a row. Injury? Loss of focus? Contagious malaise that he picked up from training with Shodai? Today’s match against Oho turned into a genuine brawl, with these guys trading blows to the face, and they kept dialing up the power. After each gave the other a proper thumping, they collapsed chest to chest to hug it out. Oho proved to have the deeper reserve of stamina, the win taking him to 3-4.

Meisei defeats Kotokuzan – Meisei picks up his 3rd win, but it was against winless Kotokuzan, who is now 0-7. Meisei was strong, focused and delivered maximum force center mass. Meisei now 3-4.

Chiyotairyu defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto started early with a double arm thrust, that left him too far forward. Chiyotairyu read it well, and immediately gave Ichiyamamoto a powerful tug, to send him to the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 4-3.

Midorifuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opened with a thunderous forearm.. push? As he was marching forward, Midorifuji ducked behind and sent him off the dohyo with an uwatedashinage. Both end the day at 4-3, and are very much in the funnel to start day 8.

Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – The big match, where the last undefeated rikishi put his lead on the line. No really, these guys are Maegashira 11 and 12 respectively, and when we take our first look at the yusho race to start day 8, they are in the lead. Where it went wrong of Aoiyama was his focus on pulling Sadanoumi down or forward. It gave him ample opportunity to set up for a big push in response, and a well times burst of power sent Aoiyama over the bales for his first loss of Natsu. Both end the day at 6-1.

Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Both had solid position chest to chest following the tachiai, but Azumaryu was set up a bit better, and slowly worked his way to set up the uwate hold, which he eventually consolidated. From there it was a pivot to send Nishikigi hopping over the tawara, and an Azumaryu win to improve to 4-3.

Chiyoshoma defeats Shimanoumi – Chiyoshoma’s win knocks both rikishi back into the funnel for Sunday. This match was all Chiyoshoma, who took control at the tachiai, and immediately walked Shimanoumi back for a quick win. Both end the day 3-4.

Tochinoshin defeats Kotoeko – This was a Kotoeko match until Tochinoshin found his left hand outside grip. Kotoeko was pouring on a lot of forward power, so Tochinoshin did not try to trap him and set up the lift, he simply used that left hand to swing Kotoeko around and into the front row cushions. Both end the day at 4-3 and are in the funnel.

Okinoumi defeats Takarafuji – Grim times for Takarafuji, he has yet to win a single match, and is 0-7 after today. Takarafuji actually showed some strong offense today, but fell to a side step / slap down combo at the bales moments before he could push Okinoumi out. Okinoumi improves to 3-4.

Kotoshoho defeats Wakamotoharu – Yeah, he lost today, but when Wakamotoharu can get into yotsu form during a match, he is really surprisingly good. His challenge today was that his hips were too high, and he let Kotoshoho attack from underneath. Wakamotoharu did rally, and the final step saw both men crash out of the dohyo together. A monoii was called, and the win went to Kotoshoho. Both end the day 4-3.

Ura defeats Terutsuyoshi – An almost comical battle of the super low, they fought nearly bent double at times. Ura was able to connect and transmit power to Terutsuyoshi, and eventually worked him out of the ring with an oshidashi. Ura improves to 4-3.

Takanosho defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru misses out on his chance to once again share the lead by letting Takanosho get underneath, and not being able to set his feet for defense. Maybe there was a pull in there too. Takanosho has now won 4 in a row, and finishes the day 5-2.

Takayasu defeats Kotonowaka – Takayasu gets his second win of the basho, he gets a clear path to Kotonowaka’s chest, and just thrusts repeatedly at center-mass. Kotonowaka has no chance to defend, and gets moved back, then out. Takayasu improves to 2-5.

Hoshoryu defeats Abi – An Abi yotsu match? I like the variety, yes indeed! But Hoshoryu’s got the better grip, and is in lower. So this is all Hoshoryu, and he makes fairly quick work of Abi. The win takes Hoshoryu to 5-2 going into the middle day of the basho.

Kiribayama defeats Wakatakakage – Kiribayama continues to have Wakatakakage’s number, dropping him to the clay in the second volley with a hatakikomi. Not sure if the Kiribayama matta was part of the set up for that combo, but it worked a treat. Kiribayama advances to 4-3, both remain in the funnel.

Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi misses out on his chance to co-own the lead going into day 8 when he catches Takakeisho’s second combo full in the chest. There is a nice attempt at a head and neck combo from Tamawashi, but it fails to really find it’s mark. Takakeisho picks up a much needed win to improve to 4-3.

Hokutofuji defeats Shodai – Its been a while since we saw Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai, and it went straight into a right hand nodowa. Shodai, who was never low at the tachiai, then found himself raised up, then off balance, then pushed out from the size. Another day of crummy sumo from Shodai, I just have to wonder what is happening with the guy. Hokutofuji advances to 2-5.

Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi could not prevent Daieisho’s mega-thrust attack low and inside. He was able to get a couple of blocks up, but once he conceded the initiative to Daieisho, it was only going to end one way. Daieisho ends the day 5-2.

Terunofuji defeats Endo – Big, strong opening move from Endo. For all intents, he had Terunofuji a step away from losing, but the Yokozuna rallied, and battled back to the center of the dohyo. He caught Endo with poor body position, and dropped him to the clay. A close one for Terunofuji, but it still counts as a win. Terunofuji now 5-2.