These closing few days of the tournament present many challenges as yet another heya is forced to pull out due to Covid. This time Asakayama beya is forced to withdraw but makuuchi dodges a bullet and loses no more competitors. We’re already down to an abbreviated list of 18 bouts over the scheduled two hours, even with Kagayaki visiting from Juryo.
Today's COVID bingo: Asakayama beya
Yet another shimpan going kyujo (Asakayama oyakata, former Kaio).
No Makuuchi wrestlers, but Kaisho in Juryo is kyujo, as are the heya's lower division wrestlers.
— ヘルット (Basho SPOILERS!) (@SumoFollower) July 21, 2022
The yusho race has narrowed to Terunofuji and Ichinojo with two losses each while Tobizaru and Nishikigi joined Takakeisho and Nishikifuji in the chase group with three losses. With no further ado, lets get to the bouts.
Yutakayama versus Kagayaki: Kagayaki drove forward at the tachiai, leading with the crown of his forehead. A forearm to the throat may have been the spark Yutakayama needed to make his own charge. With Kagayaki’s feet sliding, Yutakayama pivoted left and shuffled to the middle of the ring. The pivot was important because re-positioning himself in this way meant he didn’t have to shove Kagayaki all the way across the dohyo, through the center, to get him to the tawara. Instead, the much shorter route turned the tables quickly, imperiling Kagayaki. Kagayaki tried to dance along the bales to get his position back but Yutakayama stuck with him and finally forced him over the bales, yorikiri. Both even their records at 6-6.
Onosho versus Chiyoshoma: Chiyoshoma didn’t henka and it cost him. The head-to-head only managed to stagger Oshoryu temporarily. While Chiyoshoma leaned in for a belt grip with his left hand, Onosho pressed both hands into Chiyoshoma’s core, Superman-style, and launched him clear from the into the head shimpan. Oshidashi. Onosho is 7-5 and Chiyoshoma is 5-7.
Daiamami versus Takarafuji: Daiamami’s make-koshi deepened today against the Takarabune. He tried to get that right hand in on Takarafuji’s belt but Takarafuji yanked it away. While Daiamami was still trying to get the fingers of his left hand onto his opponent’s belt, Takarafuji had already secured his preferred right hand grip and quickly drove Daiamami back and out. Daiamami is 2-8-2 and on the barge back to Juryo while Takarafuji steadies himself at 6-6.
Chiyomaru versus Midorifuji: Chiyomaru was just too much mass for Midorifuji today. Midorifuji tried shifting his belt grip but Chiyomaru corralled him at the edge and gently ushered him over the bales to pick up his fourth win. Midorifuji falls to 7-5.
Chiyotairyu versus Myogiryu: Chiyotairyu tried to pull Myogiryu down at the center of the ring but Myogiryu didn’t just maintain his balance, he squared up and charged back. Myogiryu’s tsuppari were forceful enough to force Chiyotairyu over the bales and earn his kachi-koshi. Myogiryu is at 8-4 with Chiyotairyu falling to 6-6.
Oho versus Meisei: Oho and Meisei launched themselves repeatedly into one another. Meisei had the dominant tachiai and better position to launch his charging attacks. Oho attempted a pulldown but missed and had to regroup quickly before Meisei could take advantage. Meisei saw the flaw in his plan and started to use more regular tsuppari but Oho had already steadied himself. Meisei attempted a half-hearted throw and failed. This allowed Oho claim to the center of the ring and better position to launch his own shoulder blasts but by this time he seemed sapped of strength and Meisei was quickly able to move forward, reclaim position at the center of the ring, and heave Oho from the ring with a final lunge. Oshidashi. Both are 7-5, eager to claim that kachi-koshi tomorrow.
Tochinoshin versus Nishikifuji: The veteran Tochinoshin executed a well-timed pull, thrusting Nishikifuji down and out of the ring. We often see guys fall on their face to this and end up with hatakikomi, but Nishikifuji’s effort to regain his balance saw his momentum carry him forward and clear from the ring for a tsukiotoshi, instead. Tochinoshin is 7-5 and Nishikifuji is falls out of the hunt group to 8-4.
Endo versus Shimanoumi: Endo followed through on his strong tachiai with solid tsuppari to force Shimanoumi to the edge. As Shimanoumi pushed back Endo seized the opportunity to seize Shimanoumi’s shimekomi. Endo drove forward again but Shimanoumi slipped away to Endo’s left. However, Endo quickly re-engaged and coupled with the pair’s momentum moving to the left side, pushed Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri. Endo picks up a third win while Shimanoumi falls to a dreadful 1-11.
Terutsuyoshi versus Sadanoumi: Terutsuyoshi tried to grasp Sadanoumi’s leg but failed. He then desperately tried to avoid getting pushed down and escaped to the right. Sadanoumi was in hot pursuit. He attempted, and failed, with a pull-down attack but drove forward. As Terutsuyoshi planted with his left foot to slide back, and catch the tawara with his right, Sadanoumi deftly kicked Terutsuyoshi’s plant foot. This forced Terutsuyoshi to lose his balance and fall backwards earning Sadanoumi a clever sotogake outside leg trip. Sadanoumi’s already make-koshi but gets a fourth win while Terutsuyoshi, at 5-7, needs to win out.
Tamawashi versus Tsurugisho: After a strong tachiai, Tsurugisho latched on to Tamawashi’s left arm. Tsurugisho tried a pull but Tamawashi kept his balance just enough to counter and force Tsurugisho backwards and off the dohyo. Gumbai Tamawashi. A quick mono-ii confirms that Tsurugishi was dead before Tamawashi’s hand went down. Oshidashi. Both wrestlers are 5-7.
Tobizaru versus Ichinojo: Ichinojo’s patience with Tobizaru today demonstrated, to me at least, his desire to win this tournament. He wasn’t going to make hasty mistakes and let it slip away today. After a firm tachiai, Tobizaru bounced three feet away from the boulder. Ichinojo is in the driver’s seat, hands at 10 and 2. (Like that? See what I did there? I crack myself up.) Tobizaru 8-4. Oshidashi.
Kiribayama versus Ura: Ura chose a hit-and-run technique, lunging in for an attack and then retreating, cycling back and around the dohyo. Each time Ura came in for an attack, Kiribayama laid into Ura and pursued with tsuppari. One final lunge and Kiribayama slapped down a charging Ura. Hatakikomi. Both men are 5-7 and must win their final 3 in order to claim kachi-koshi records.
Hoshoryu versus Hokutofuji: Hoshoryu weathered Hokutofuji’s forehead charges and tsuppari, trading attack for access to Hokutofuji’s belt. After an attack, Hokutofuji strayed too close and this allowed Hoshoryu to secure a belt grip. He pivoted and threw Hokutofuji out of the dohyo. Uwatenage. Hoshoryu improves to 7-5 while Hokutofuji falls to 6-6.
Wakamotoharu versus Abi: Abi henka! Wakamotoharu didn’t fall for it but as he turned to face Abi from his new position, he encountered a torrent of Abi’s thrusts. Tsukiotoshi. Abi improves to 6-6, Wakamotoharu falls to 5-7.
Wakatakakage versus Okinoumi: After a strong collision at the center, Wakatakakage was impervious to Okinoumi’s attempts to advance. His own steady pressure forced Okinoumi back and out, yorikiri. Wakatakakage improves to 7-5, Okinoumi is make-koshi and falls to 4-8.
Takakeisho versus Nishikigi: In another matchup which likely would not occur without all of the kyujo, Maegashira 8 Nishikigi gets to face Ozeki Takakeisho. Both men are kachi-koshi and one loss off the leaders coming into today’s bout. Takakeisho’s opening nodowa drove Nishikigi back to the bales. Nishikigi circled to his left and charged back at the Ozeki. But the Ozeki did not budge, sending Nishikigi back to the edge to try again. One final lunge at the Ozeki but Takakeisho again repelled the attack, and pushed Nishikigi out of the ring. Oshidashi. Takakeisho is 9-3 and Nishikigi falls to a comfortable 8-4.
Aoiyama versus Shodai: Shodai advanced through Aoiyama’s “tsuppari”, forced Aoiyama to retreat. It’s not clear to me whether Aoiyama pulled himself a bit too close to the edge or whether Shodai’s advance shoved him over, but the call is oshidashi. Shodai clears his kadoban and stands at 8-4. Aoiyama 5-7. Oshidashi.
Terunofuji versus Daieisho: Daieisho charged into the Yokozuna but could not make any head way. Terunofuji brought his right forearm up to re-enforce the shove landed with his left, dropping Daieisho from the dohyo’s surface. Terunofuji matches Ichinojo’s pace at 10-2. Daieisho falls to 6-6. Oshidashi.