I absolutely love three days weekends in the middle of a basho! But for this three day weekend in July where it’s too damn hot to do anything, my daily routine consisted of watching the NSK internet feed from 8:30 to 15:00, then NHK 15:00 to 18:00. It was wise to stock up on ice cubes as the whisky is well to warm to drink straight at this time of year.
Starting where things got interesting in Juryo.
EJ11 Chiyonokuni (6-2) vs. WJ12 Myogiryu (6-2): Two men rocking Juryo. Nice knock on the melons at the tachiai with Myogiryu gaining ground. Chiyo was aiming for an over-arm throw, but his grip was way too loose, while Myogiryu kept in close and worked on the belt. Chiyo revamped and tried again for the over-arm throw, this time adding a leg for the trip. Myogiryu stayed in close and the two tumbled over and down off the dohyo in what looked like some sort of spinning mess of limbs, waxed hair, and trickles of blood. In the end, it was clear Myogiryu kept his skin off the clay the longest, and he advances to 7-2 while Kokonoe’s top rikishi settles for 6-3.
EJ10 Tsurugidake (6-2) vs. WJ6 Kaonishiki (3-5): Tsurugidake came out blazing with nice thrusts. Kaonishiki just back-peddled, searching for a pull-down attempt. Kaonishiki is too big and way too slow to be taking pages out of the Takekaze play-book. Tsurugidake gets to stay on the leaderboard while Kaonishiki falls to 3-6.
WJ9 Shironoryu (5-3) vs. WJ4 Aoiyama (4-4): At the tachiai, Aoiyama reared his massive arms back and attacked with even two-hand thrusts. With the arm-length this giant possesses, Shironoryu had no chance. Aoiyama is Shinjuryo and still a lot to learn, but I expect big things from this big man who improves to 5-4. Mongol Shironoryu shares the same record.
EJ2 Yoshiazuma (5-3) vs. WJ5 Takanoyama (7-1): Takanoyama started off with a low tachiai, going right to the mawashi of Yoshiazuma. The much taller and heavier Yoshi responded going belt-to-belt and easily led the Czecher out of the ring. Yoshiazuma goes 6-3 while Takanoyama remains on the leaderboard with 7-2.
Barely in Makuuchi now, EM14 Takamisakari (1-7) vs. EJ1 Masunoyama (5-3): Good tachiai, but Masu had more behind his charge. Tkmskr stayed with the larger opponent, but was never able to maintain a belt-grip as Masu’s thrusts kept the clown away. This bout essentially seals Tkmskr’s fate in Makuuchi and we’ll either be seeing him in Juryo next basho, or in a blue jacket doing security in the hanamichi. Talk about true disaster for the NSK! Baseball betting, yakuza, hazings, bout-fixing; they can deal with these, but Takamisakari falling from Makuuchi?
EM15 Fujiazuma (7-1) vs. WM10 Takarafuji (2-6): Fujiazuma was in charge all the way, with thrusts, shoves, and bitch-slaps, then he locked in close with morozashi leading his opponent to the bales. But, Deluxe-Fuji spun around right at the rice bales and Fujiazuma tumbled down just as Deluxe-Fuji stepped out. Gumbai went for Delux, but the boys in black had a long discussion and chose to have the newbies try a redo. Round II: at tachiai both reach for belt grips, but neither man gets it. They part, then Fujiazuma lunged at Delux, but Delux worked in a quick outside grip and sent Fuji down with a pulling over-arm throw. Fujiazuma is 7-2 while Delux-Fuji is 3-6.
EM8 Tochiozan (6-2) vs. EM11 Takayasu (7-1): Takayasu hit hard at the tachiai, but turned his head back, giving Tochiozan a bit of advantage from the start. Takayasu continued to try various grips as he squirmed around, but O had him locked up and moving backwards. Both men now have 7s and 2s.
EM9 Homasho (7-1) vs. WM5 Wakanosato (4-4): Waka leads the head-to-head 8-3, but the Cigar Store Indian is looking a lot better this basho (and heftier). Even tachiai, but Waka never let up with his forward motion and squared focus on Homasho. Each time Waka reached in for a grip on Homasho’s belt, Homasho would actually step back rather than simply drop his hips to prevent Waka’s grasp. With enough back-peddling from Cigar Store, Waka picked up his fifth win while Chief Ho falls to 7-2.
EM5 Kaisei (4-4) vs. WM7 Gagamaru (2-6): Awkward tachiai with neither man really putting both fists down, but they go on. Gagamaru dug his head in low, but Kaisei kept strong on the defense. Once Gaga lifted his head up, his center gravity was just high enough for Kaisei to lead the Georgian back and out. Easy force-out for the Gentleman from Brazil. Kaisei 5-4; Gagamaru 2-7.
EM7 Tokitenku (4-4) vs. WM4 Takekaze (5-3): Head-to-head all 10s between these two Makuuchi mainstays. Good tachiai from Take and no funny stuff, but Toki worked himself to a bit of an angle on Take and with a firm right-hand inside, left-hand outside, Toki lead the Akitan out, force-out win for the Mongolian. Both men end the day with 5-4.
WM3 Aminishiki (1-7) vs. WO Kotooshu (6-2): Head-to-head is 15-12 in Sneaky’s favor over the slow-witted Bulgarian. Sneaky controlled the tachiai, but Oshu used his long arms and strong thrusts one at a time to lead Sneaky off balance and off the dohyo. Sneaky is hurting at 1-8 while Oshu is having a mediocre showing for a true Ozeki, at 7-2.
EO Kaio (3-5) vs. EM3 Wakakoyu (2-6): Wakakoyu gave a straight thrust to the neck which took Kaio back to the bales, and from there Wakakoyu let up and the old man stumbled to the clay, discovering it’s a lot harder to win bouts when no yaocho is involved. Kaio’s a piss-poor 3-6; Wakakoyu, on the other hand, has a respectable 3-6, given it’s his first time in the meat grinder.
ES1 Kotoshogiku (7-1) vs. WO Harumafuji (8-0): Quite a rivalry here with the career head-to-head 24-11 in the Geeks favor. Haruma started at first in the tachiai with hands to the face, but with a little room between the two, he moved his hands down to a very snug double-inside grip to the belt—so snug in fact, the Geek couldn’t work into any hug-n-chug and the Mongol led the hyped Sekiwake out of the ring with a superb force-out. Haruma, who’s been fighting like a Yokozuna in this basho, is at 9-0 while the Geek is still a handful of wins shy for Ozeki promotion.
EO Baruto (7-1) vs. WS1 Kisenosato (5-3): I swear Bart’s evil twin is donning his mawashi this basho. My God, did he make minced meat of Kissy! Quick tachiai to the throat, a couple of extra jabs to twist up his opponent, then a slap-down win. Bart’s now 8-1 while Kisenosato settles for 5-4.
EY Hakuho (8-0) vs. WS2 Kakuryu (6-2): the Yokozuna leads the head-to-head 17-0. Kak went for double-hand nodowa, but didn’t last long. Both tsuppari for a while until Hak used a strong side thrust to throw the Kak off balance and twisting around the younger Mongol, Hakuho led the Kak out with a force-out win. Dai-Yokozuna is 9-0 while the Kak is a respectable 6-3.
Chalmers bring us the aloha spirit tomorrow with open arms…and open legs.