What a great nakabi! Nakabi being the middle day of the basho, it’s usually a festive affair for the fans. It seems that NHK got in on the act as well in the process of celebrating an anniversary of their sumo broadcast coverage. Fans watching the NHK feed were treated to colorful graphics, unusual and interesting camera angles, and even some whimsical stats such as rikishi collision speed at the tachiai. I loved it.
Likewise the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan was in a celebratory mood, bringing us surprisingly good sumo across the board. There were multiple upsets, including first losses for 2 undefeated men. Best day of the basho thus far!
Myogiryu defeats Mitoryu – Watching Mitoryu prepare for the tachiai, I have to think the guy is having leg problems, this was only bolstered by his letting Myogiryu break contact and re-engage on his terms. Mitoryu managed to get Myogiryu on the clay by what looked like a hatakikomi, but stepped out first, losing the match. If Mitoryu is hurt, I hope he can get better soon. Myogiryu improves to 6-2.
Tsurugisho defeats Chiyoshoma – When you get 400 pound Tsurugisho executing a henka against Chiyoshoma, and winning, you know this is not going to be a typical day of sumo. Many of the fans shared my sense of mirth that he was able to do this to the henka-master, Chiyoshoma. Well played, Tsurugisho now 5-3.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Aoiyama – How banged up is Aoiyama? He tried an immediate pull in the tachiai against Ichiyamamoto. Given Ichiyamamoto’s typical big initial push, it’s not a terrible choice, but it was “all or nothing”. Sadly, “nothing” was what Big Dan Aoiyama had coming to him today as Ichiyamamoto easily takes him out by tsukidashi, improving to 3-5.
Kotoeko defeats Oho – Firstly, where on earth has his version of Oho been? This is what we want to see, Oho. You took the fight to Kotoeko, and that was solid sumo. But today Kotoeko was not going to eat a loss. He rallied twice from near loss and kept the pressure on against Oho, and shoved him out after a protracted battle. Well earned as Kotoeko improves to 3-5.
Hokuseiho defeats Asanoyama – The first big surprise of the day comes when the enormous Hokuseiho employs a henka against Asanoyama. It does not take Asanoyama down, but it does give Hokuseiho the grip he used to win the match a short time later. His shitatenage against the former Ozeki was big, potent, and a far cry from his languid sumo of week 1. Asanoyama takes his first loss as Hokuseiho improves to 6-2. The rematch in Nagoya is going to be one to watch.
Kagayaki defeats Daishoho – Kagayaki was fairly passive again today, but was handed an opening for a tsukiotoshi on a silver platter. Naturally he took it, and was able to rack his third win to finish the day 3-5.
Sadanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s initial block was solid, but the moment he released to get a working hand hold, Sadanoumi was able to get a morozashi, and it was three quick steps to put Takarafuji out by yorikiri. Sadanoumi improves to 4-4.
Hokutofuji defeats Takanosho – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai lands an immediate nodowa against Takanosho, and Takanosho’s focus is solely on breaking that choke hold. When Hokutofuji powers up to move forward, Takanosho has no answer, and exits the ring by oshidashi. Hokutofuji now 4-4.
Tamawashi defeats Ryuden – This match gives me hope that dear Tamawashi is not quite ready for the scrap yard yet. He grabs Ryuden like a punk kid filming a prank tik-tok video, and hurls him out of the ring. Both end the day 3-5.
Hiradoumi defeats Meisei – Nagasaki native Hiradoumi lets the sumo world know, he’s the real deal as he knocks Meisei out of the leader group. Hiradoumi kept reaching for a right hand frontal grip, and when he was able to land it, it proved a quick set up for the yoritaoshi that won the match in commanding fashion. That was some big sumo! Meisei joins Asanoyama in the 7-1 group as Hiradoumi improves to 6-2.
Onosho defeats Mitakeumi – Something woke me from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. It turns out it was blog creator Andy cheering this match, which was loud enough to be heard all the way in Texas. It looks like Mitakeumi tried a henka-non-henka, was immediately captured by Onosho, and bodily slammed to the clay. The kimarite is listed as watashikomi, but I list it as magnitude 4.2 in Tokyo. Both end the day 5-3.
Nishikifuji defeats Kinbozan – Uncharacteristic match from Kinbozan, as he seems to change his mind about he wants to do a moment after Nishikifuji grapples in. That moment of indecision is reflected in his body, as he goes soft just long enough for Nishikifuji to consolidate his hold and walk him back. Much needed win by yorikiri for Nishikifuji, who is now 2-6.
Abi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizuaru mounted the dohyo today with a lot of tape on his shoulder, which is a worry. Abi was clearly on the offense, and kept Tobizaru from any substantial attack as he drove Tobizaru back and out by oshidashi. Abi improves to 4-4.
Midorifuji defeats Daieisho – Daieisho was not part of the 7-0 leader group, but this match is a bit of an upset in my book anyhow. Midorifuji played Daieisho perfectly, knowing that Daieisho would be massive power-foward, and timing his move out of the way to the precise instant where Daieisho could do nothing by fall face first into the salt basket. Midorifuji needed that highlight reel worthy win, and is now 3-5.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – I am not sure where this “good” version of Hoshoryu as been, but I am glad he is here. Kotonowaka’s big forward rush is captured and converted by Hoshoryu into the energy to power that throw, and Kotonowaka hits the deck by glorious kakenage as Hoshoryu advances to 6-2.
Kiribayama defeats Ura – Sometimes Ura gets into this mode, he gets in trouble, and he tries to counter by going lower and getting under and inside. He’s tried it the last several days, and it ends the same way. Today Ura took a backward fall out of the ring as Kiribayama delivers the oshitaoshi, improving to 6-2.
Nishikigi defeats Wakamotoharu – Another fun surprise was this wonderful match. This version of Nishikigi is a worthy member of the joi-jin, but he has been missed the first week. Wakamotoharu rightfully has a lot of confidence in his yotsu-zumo, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe he underestimated Nishikigi. Nishikigi’s battle plan today? OTTSUKE! Good lord, there was enough sumo in Nishikigi’s ottsuke today to beat all of the Onami brothers at the same time. Credit to Wakamotoharu for realizing that the body hold was not going to happen and attempting a throw. Nishikigi masterfully counters, collapsing Wakamotoharu to the clay by sukuinage. Masterful sumo from Nishikigi as he picks up his second win to end the day 2-6.
Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Takakeisho declares “Not today, Shodai!” for the brief moment it took him to run the former Ozeki out of the ring under a withering avalanche of tsuppari. Takakeisho now 2 wins from clearing kadoban at 6-2.
Terunofuji defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho delivered a strong offense for about 3 seconds, but quickly went soft under the Yokozuna’s counter attack. As soon as Terunofuji broke Kotoshoho’s stance, it was a quick walk back and out for Terunofuji to score his 8th win, reaching kachi-koshi and remaining the sole leader of the Natsu basho at 8-0.