The first day of act 2, and the final day before the middle weekend. We had one of the undefeated rikishi pick up their first loss, and we finally got to see Hokuseiho show some energy.
A salute to Tochinoshin, who handed in his retirement papers today with the Sumo Association. He still has the heart of a warrior, but his body has simply had as much as it can take. Fans won’t forget how you blew the doors off your Ozeki run, or the joy of watching you deploy the “Sky-crane” against even the largest and heaviest of men.
On to the matches!
Bushozan defeats Ichiyamamoto – Bushozan comes for a visit, and gives Ichiyamamoto the business. Ichiyamamoto gets a volley in, but as soon as Bushozan gets inside and gets a hold, he’s in charge. He drives Ichiyamamoto back and even a last moment grab and pull can’t save him from the oshidashi. Bushozan returns to Juryo 5-1, and may make his way back to the top division in July.
Oho defeats Tsurugisho – Good to see Oho win back to back matches. He caught the tachiai from Tsurugisho well enough, but delivered an immediate tsukiotoshi that sent Tsurugisho tumbling. Both end the day 3-3.
Asanoyama defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu is much to rubbery and flabby to pose much of a contest to the future Ozeki. Message to all rikishi in the top division that have not fought Asanoyama because he was out. Once that left hand outside grip is engaged, break it at once or eat the loss. Asanoyama improves to 6-0.
Chiyoshoma defeats Kagayaki – We are about to start the middle weekend, and Kagayaki has a single win. Excellent grab-n-tug demonstration from Chiyoshoma today. He breaks Kagayaki’s balance quickly, and shoves what’s left to the clay for his 3rd win, finishing the day 3-3.
Myogiryu defeats Aoiyama – It’s a good day, as we got to see the V-Twin in action from Big Dan Aoiyama. He was not close to his maximum force, but given the state of his left knee, I think it was all he could muster. Myogiryu was in trouble until he was able to dive in and set up a right hand inside body grip. The resulting yotsu battle went surprisingly well, in spite of Aoiyama favoring that left knee as much as he could, and the two battled back and forth for a good while. At a pause, Myogiryu consolidated his grip, which gave him the body position to raise Aoiyama and walk him out for a yorikiri, ending the day at 4-2. Solid effort from both.
Hokuseiho defeats Kotoeko – Have to admire the brass on Kotoeko. He opens with a nodowa against Hokuseiho. Frankly, I was not aware he could reach that high. I think Kotoeko concluded that as well, and focused on body attacks against Hokuseiho. This seemed to finally, for the first time this month, energize young Hokuseiho into vigorous action. Hey, he actually can move around when the situation requires it. This only provoked Kotoeko further, and in a second we had a real battle to watch. As was always the case once Kotoeko got Hokuseiho active, he simply picked up the massive yet still diminutive Kotoeko and lifted him with all of the precision of an improvised hoist rescuing a rhino from a drainage ditch. But it was enough for the yorikiri, and Hokuseiho is now 5-1.
Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji brought the “defend” but could not sell the “extend” today. The moment he grabs and rotates before his grip is set is the moment he opens the door for Onosho to push him down for his 3rd loss. Both end the day 3-3.
Hiradoumi defeats Daishoho – I have to wonder if Daishoho assumed his much larger size was going to carry him this match. Hiradoumi could care less, and gave Daishoho quite a fight. Both showed some superior yotsu technique in this match, but I was wincing watching Daishoho bandaged right elbow caught in Hiradoumi’s ottsuke. A Daishoho attempt at a kimidashi fell apart, and gave Hiradoumi all he needed for the yorikiri. Nicely done.
Takanosho defeats Ryuden – Impressive to watch Takanosho move Ryuden so effectively while not really having to defend against a lot of forward pressure. That may the key to him winning matches for this basho. Note how he keeps turning Ryuden so he can’t push back. Takanosho improves to 2-4.
Mitakeumi defeats Sadanoumi – It’s glorious to see old-style Mitakeumi sumo. For recent fans of sumo, this is in fact “his brand of sumo”. He never really stands up from this tachiai strike, and you can see both hands inside, his knees forward and he pushes like a truck. Sadanoumi is completely bracketed, and his mobility and speed utterly useless to escape. Solid oshidashi takes Mitakeumi to 4-2.
Kinbozan defeats Tamawashi – Good combo from Tamawashi to start, but only at a fraction of his normal power. He gets off his balance and Kinbozan pushes him from behind. I think it should have been an okuridashi, but oh whatever. Kinbozan no kachi at 3-3.
Hokutofuji defeats Kotoshoho – It pains me to see Kotoshoho struggle as much as he is this basho. Hokutofuji has no such reservation, dispatching him in a hurry with a quick stand him up / slap him down combo, to advance to 3-3.
Meisei defeats Ura – I had hopes that Ura could be the first man to put dirt on Meisei, but this guy is red hot right now, and I don’t think we will see him take a black star until he faces some tougher opponents. Ura was a bit too low, bounced back at the tachiai, and could never set his feet. Meisei now 6-0.
Midorifuji defeats Endo – The question of “who is the bottom man on the torikumi?” has finally been solved, and sadly its Endo. He had plenty of energy and power for today’s match, but a poor choice of moves put him at the mercy of Midorifuji, and he caught an oshidashi for his troubles. Midorifuji gets his first win and is 1-5.
Shodai defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka has now lost the last 3 in a row, and I think his chances of participating in the yusho race are gone. We got to see some real Shodai sumo, which is always a treat, using his big body to incrementally whittle down the size of the ring that Kotonowaka could employ. Shodai picks up his second win and is now 2-4.
Kiribayama defeats Tobizaru – I recognize that Kiribayama showed us some world class sumo today, but that was really facilitated by Tobizaru’s excellent defensive technique in this match. I wish this guy to put together all of the pieces he shows us on various days, he’s a world beater if he ever can. Kiribayama? He’s on his way up to be certain, he’s now 5-1.
Abi defeats Wakamotoharu – Abi scores first dirt on Wakamotoharu, and frankly Wakamotoharu bought it for full retail. Abi absorbs the tachiai at a deflecting angle, leaving Wakamotoharu unbalanced as Abi grabs and pulls down into a katasukashi. Abi now at 3-3.
Daieisho defeats Hoshoryu – The zero sumo game to determine who might make a bid to become the next Ozeki will be bloody and brutal, as is the way of this sport. Daieisho made contact first in the tachiai, and Hoshoryu never really recovered. Even when they broke contact for a moment and re-engaged, Hoshoryu was clearly off his match plan and was quickly shoved out by a Daieisho mega-thrust. Daieisho improves to 5-1.
Takakeisho defeats Nishikifuji – Nishikifuji’s single minded focus on getting a grip cost him a match he could have won. His sumo was easy to anticipate, and Takakeisho with his stubby arms has been defending against these moves his entire life. Takakeisho pushes the thrashing mess that is Nishikifuji’s sumo today out by oshidashi to advance to 4-2.
Terunofuji defeats Nishikigi – As is traditional with Terunofuji, congratulations on establishing a grip on the Yokozuna, please enjoy the visit to the clay. Terunofuji undefeated at 6-0.