Seven days behind us and seven more ahead. Here we are on hump-day in the not-so Natsu Basho. Thus far, Hakuho hasn’t missed a step, having an order of one rikishi for supper each evening at 5:55pm, most of the Ozeki are fumbling around, Kaio’s bouts are sketchy as hell, and the “next Japanese hope” has fallen flat. The winds of change blow just the same. If anyone has lost out in this yaocho scandal, it is the Yokozuna, who was screwed out of a Haru Basho championship for the record books, and the hardware/prize cash for the cancelled Haru and Natsu Bashos.
Shall we check in on things from the depths of Juryo, which has practically turned into a round-robin with the lack of rikishi in the division.
EJ12 Sagatsukasa (5-2) vs. Em1 Aoiyama (3-1): First time against each other, and Aoiyama’s first time to fight in a Juryo bout. The Bulgarian bio-mass starts off on half-pint Sagatsukasa. In a quick tachiai, Sagatsukasa easily worked under Aoiyama’s reach. Aoiyama tried to respond with a pull-down, but Sagatsukasa was already up too close in the giant’s chest, pressing him upright and easily out of the ring. Nice win by Sagatsukasa who advanced to 6-2. Aoiyama remains one win shy of guaranteed sekitori promotion.
EJ1 Takayasu (4-3) vs. WJ6 Kokkai (1-6): A first time meeting here between the up-and-comer and the down-and-outer, but they do have one thing in common: both men are very hairy. Kokkai came in at the tachiai low, head-first. Takayasu thought to work to the side after contact and reach for a right-hand outside, but ‘twas too little too late, as Kokkai has already driven Takayasu to the bales, and the ailing Georgian shows he still had one more bullet in the rusty barrel. Kokkai still suffering at 2-6 in mid-Juryo and obviously in a lot of pain, while Takayasu is 4-4 and needs to double those wins for a guaranteed trip to Makuuchi.
EM14 Gagamaru (3-4) vs. WM16 Kaisei (7-0): the Georgian and the Brazilian met once in Makushita two years ago, with Gaga winning. This time they came in rather even at the tachiai, both somewhat too high with a thrusting attack. Ricardo was able to gain ground on the 200kg giant Georgian and once too close for thrusts, he moved to morozashi and pressed Gaga Georgia backwards to the bales. While Gaga held on, Kaisei changed plans from a force-out, to a beltless arm-throw. Ricardo advances to 8-0 while Gaga is struggling at 3-5.
EM15 Takamisakari (2-5) vs. WM13 Tokitenku (2-5): Toki holds a slight edge in the head-to-head 10 to 8. In this battle, Toki led from tachiai pressing Ringo right to the edge, but the blind one did what he does best, and like picking up a crate of delicious Aomori apples, he lifted up Tokidoki and did a nice 180˚, forcing the Mongol out of the ring. Ringo sits at 3-5 while Tokidoki is looking bad at 2-6.
EM9 Tosayutaka (5-2) vs. WM6 Tochinoshin (6-1): Tochinoshin has won all three head-to-head match-ups in the past. Today Noshin worked forward quickly with morozashi, tried for various belt grips, but no luck so kept in morozashi. The two lock up in the center and shift around trying for grips with even morozashi. Noshin drove Tosa to the edge with a lift up once he had gotten a migiyotsu, then reversing direction he dropped the gorilla with an over-arm throw. Tochinoshin betters his record to 7-1 while the gorilla hangs on the mediocrity tree with a 5-3.
EM5 Aran (3-4) vs. EM8 Kyokutenho (3-4): Aran leads the head-to-head 4 to 2, but he’s coming off a violation loss yesterday due to yanking on Yoshikaze’s top not. Today, Kyoku immediately worked into migiyotsu and Aran reciprocated. Both men gained tight grips, trying to lift his opponent, and in the end Kyoku prevailed in the strong-man battle. The ole’ Mongol keeps things even at 4-4 while Aran has plenty of game to think about at 3-5.
ES Kotoshogiku (5-2) vs. EM1 Goeido (4-3) H2H 4-8: Goei came in lower at the tachiai and reached for a better grip, but once the Geek started pressing forward Goei was only squirming around, trying to break the Geek’s momentum. Poor showing by Goeido, but is it really? It seems I’m saying “poor showing” after every Goeido bout. Expectations must be too high. The Geek moves on to a nice 6-2 while Goeido falls to the floor with a pair of fours.
EM2 Homasho (1-6) vs. WS Kisenosato (3-4): Chief Cigar Store has a 4-3 edge head-to-head against Kissy in the past, which is respectable. From the tachiai, the two bonk heads and Kissy gets a good thrust game going, backing Cigar Store to the bales, but Homasho somehow found a way to slip to the side and Kissy tumbled down. They call it a pull-down win, and Chief improves to 2-6 while Kissy’s on the floor with a pair of fours.
EO Baruto (6-1) vs. WM4 Takekaze (4-3): what’s funny about this pair-up, other than the differences in size? Takekaze leads the head-to-head 3 to 2. From the tachiai, Take make contact, but then kind of skirted to the left. Now, if I use the term “skirted” in anyone’s sumo, you know he’s bound for a humiliating loss. Bart gave a simple shove and little Akita was in the third row, on the floor with a pair of fours. Bart keeps things interesting at 7-1.
WM3 Aminishiki (2-5) vs. WO Kaio (5-2): Kaio leads head-to-head 16-8. At the tachiai, Ami led into Kaio’s chest looking down, without a grip. Then all the sudden, Kaio wasn’t in front of him anymore. Why didn’t Ami look up? Why didn’t he go for a grip? Why didn’t he keep his balance, rather than just lean his head on Kaio’s chest? These are questions we are not supposed to ask at the old man ‘advances’ to 6-2 while Amisneaky should take tips from big brother Asofuji on how to fall for an opponent and not make it so obvious. This is bullshit.
EO Kotooshu (2-5) vs. WK Toyonoshima (1-6) Oshu carries a slight edge at 11-9 in this, the second David vs. Goliath bout of the Makuuchi today. Oshu hit things off shoulder first and with his head turned to the left. Shorty took advantage of this and thrust the giant back to the bales while Oshu attempted to square up. Once on the bales, Oshu fought back gaining a belt-grip and swinging the squirt to the edge and shoving him out. Poor sumo by Oshu, but he’ll take the win and improve to 2-6 while Toyonoshima is in a fix at 1-7, but on the bright side there won’t be that many spots to fall in the banzuke.
EK Kakuryu (4-3) vs. WO Harumafuji (4-3): The Ozeki carries a great advantage in the head-to-head, 13 to 3. Haruma went in very quickly at the tachiai, but in fact he was a bit too speedy and out-of-control. He bumped into the Kak (though it’s ordinarily the other way around), and there Haruma was, on the floor with a pair of fours. The Kak is solid these days, and so is Kakuryu at 5-3, with a Kak-slapdown win.
EY Hakuho (7-0) vs. EM4 Okinoumi (4-3): first time between these two. At the tachiai, Oki reached inside and Hak locked up both of Oki’s arms and in doing so, took Oki’s pimping blue mawashi and tossed the hansom devil down, in a pulling underarm throw. And there you have it, Okinoumi was on the floor with a pair of fours. Hakuho, 8 and O.
Protect yourselves; Sterling Brown is coming at you tomorrow with a tall tail…and he’s going to discuss some sumo as well!