Welcome to hump day sumo fans. Nakabi marks the half way point through our Kyushu journey together. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the fine sumo that’s been taking place with a glass of whisky, cigar or whatever floats your boat, eh. I for one have been loving the action along with a nice glass of peaty goodness. Speaking of goodness? Would you care for a glass? Name your poison. Ah, good decision. I applaud your fine taste.
Although the fans haven’t been filling the seats in Fukuoka, at least the online community seems to be on the rise! As S & S’s self proclaimed social media expert|strategist, I can’t help but love the fact that readers like you are enjoying what we are throwing down. A quick shout out to all of our friends on twitter & facebook! Your comments, contributions to the online sumo community, and fine taste in both whiskys and cigars is surely helping us continue onward in this experiment in blogging technology. Enough with the thanks and gratitude. Let’s look at a few of the pressing story lines, shall we.
Kotooshu appears to have enough in the tank to live to see another basho. Kisenosato is on pace (at 6-1) to become an Ozeki, and Kimurayama’s henka pulling sumo is finally going to give him a one-way ticket back to Juryo where he can be forgotten by the likes of the S & S crew for all eternity. On a more surprising note Kotoshogiku is a man on fire right now, out to prove his promotion was no joke. At 7-0 he is currently the only true threat to Hakuho’s yusho hopes. Kakuryu is silently keeping his Ozeki hopes alive with a solid 6-1 record. The Kak and the Geeku will face off today in what will have to be the match-up of the day. Lastly and certainly last for a reason, our boy from Akita, Takekaze and Wakakoyu have somehow managed to find themselves at 6-1, tied for second overall. I will be shocked if either manages to stay hot into week two but stranger things have happened. Before we get to the big show, let’s take a quick look down in Makushita and Juryo.
We start off today looking quickly at Sumo & Stogies first rikishi on the rise reported last month, Tatsu Ryoya. Currently ranked Makushita 46 East and sitting at 2-1, the big boy faces off against Takanohana Beya’s Takanoiwa Yoshimori, the Mongol who’s been ranked as high as Makushita 13 West. Currently ranked Makushita 42 East, Takanoiwa has floundered in the Makushita ranks for nearly two years. The young gun vs. a veteran. Both rishiki explode at the tachi-ai with Tatsu gaining the upperhand pushing the smaller Mongolian to the bails. Takanoiwa began circling and pulling and literally pulls down the win. Good stuff from Tatsu, but he falls to 2-2. Takanoiwa’s pulling sumo leaves no doubt in my mind why he hasn’t progressed to the next division. He moves to 3-1.
Juryo: Takamisakari vs. Ikioi
Juryo newcomer Ikioi is one big dude at 192 centimeters and 139 kilos. He was 7-0 and the sole leader this basho before facing Johnny Appleseed. Icky lost the tachi-ai as Robo is fighting for his life at 4-3, but Icky locks Johnny up turns him around and easily forces him out of the ring. Takamisakari moves to 4-4 and his future falls deeper into the mist. Icky moves to 8-0.
Onto Makuuchi, eh. Need a refill? No problem. Ice? Good call.
Kaisei vs Tsurugidake
Kaisei easily yorikiris new comer Tsurugidake. “Only” will likely only be in Makuuchi this one time until he gets a bit quicker and stronger, moving to 2-6. My friend and former rikishi on the bubble, Kaisei moves to a solid 5-3.
Aoiyama vs. Takarafuji
It’s a pretty good first week for team Bulgaria. Aoiyama easily works Takarafuji out. Big Blue moves to 6-2 while the gentlemen heading back to Juryo (by the looks of things) holds the opposite record.
Tamawashi vs Kimurayama
For the record, the feud between Briton-Meyer and I is over on the Kimurayama front. He has moved on from Henka Mountain and likely didn’t lose any sleep over the fact that Tamawashi beat him with a hikiotoshi. Mawashi moves to 3-5 while One-Way Ticket to Juryo moves to 2-6. Six down two to go
Asasekiryu vs Myogiryu
Secretary looks like he’s about ready to stop transferring calls. With Asa’s banged up knee, new comer Myogiryu gets low on the tachi-ai and thrusts out the Mongolian in three easy steps. The New Ryu is fast and has some attitude. Briton-Meyer and I agree he’s the rikishi to watch down at the bottom of the banzuke this time around!
Takekaze vs. Aminishiki
Wow. Takekaze attempts a jumping pull down henka. Epic fail. How Sneaky doesn’t end this match right after that is beyond me. Akita’s one and only recovers and gets his hands under Aminishiki’s neck and left shoulder. An ugly oshidashi win for Moriyoshi’s hometown Hero. Shockingly he moves to 7-1 and continues to be tied for second overall!
Wakakoyu vs. Yoshikaze
Wakakoyu continues a hot streak this basho with a 6-1 record. Facing off against the always intense Kaze #2. Things didn’t feel right at the tachi-ai and so Expresso stood up and apologized. The second time both rikishi got in rhythm but it was all Waka this go around. Yorikiri win moves Waka to 7-1.
Tochinowaka vs. Kyokutenho
Tochinowaka has shown a great deal of promise this basho. The Chauffeur pulls a surprising henka and puts the young rikishi back in his place. Tochinowaka 5-3 Kyokutenho 2-6
Toyonoshima vs. Okinoumi
Two of my favorite Japanese rikishi at the moment. Don Juan has picked up 2 upsets this first week and Toyonoshima has managed to win 4. These guys are keeping the the Sekiwake and Ozeki honest. Today was a battle. Oki starts the tachi-ai off with a two handed nodwa and uses his tall frame and arms to keep the smaller Shima away from his mawashi. Both rikishi spend well over thirty seconds fighting and maneuvering for a mawashi grip. Finally Don Juan began forcing Toyo towards the bales and got the right hand grip. The two rikishi made their way back to the center of the dohyo and then Don Juan made another move. This time Toyo tried to counter Don’s drive with a throw but Don’s grip was too strong and he wins by uwatenage.
Kotooshu vs. Kisenosato
Both rikishi were tied for second going into this bout. Oshu completely dominated the tachi-ai driving Kis all the way to the bales. Kisenosato was able to redirect Kotooshu’s body a little off balance causing him fly off the dohyo. Mean while, Kisenosato was able to keep his left foot balanced on the bales just long enough to squeak out the win. Kisenosato moves to 7-1.
Harumafuji vs. Tochinoshin
Haruma stays tight thrusting the big Georgian straight off the dohyo. Not that it means much at this point: Ama moves to 4-4 and Noshin is one away from a make-koshi.
Baruto vs. Aran
Baruto picks Alan up and literally walks him out of the ring. Not much for sumo in that bout. Baruto moves to a safe 5-3.
Kakuryu vs. Kotoshogiku
Both of these rikishi have been looking strong all basho. Thinking this might be the bout of the day, I purposely didn’t watch it until I’d seen the rest of the bouts. Kotoshogiku has beaten everyone he should have and this was truly his first test. He completely owns Kakuryu today from the word tachi-ai. Pushing the Mongol to the bales only to throw him back down into the center of the dohyo. As far as I am concerned, Baruto, Hakuho, and Kisenosato are the only men standing in Kotoshogiku’s way at this point. Impressive start for the shin-Ozeki at 8-0.
Hakuho vs. Gagamaru
The Georgian had his first go at the Yokozuna today. Hakuho met lord Gaga head on. Hakuho attempted a push him up slap him down technique right off the bat but Gaga held his footing. Hakuho then ducked under Behemoths left arm with Matrix like quickness and threw Makuuchi heavy weight to the ground. Hakuho has yet to be challenged all basho. He moves to a confident 8-0.
8-0: Hakuho, Kotoshogiku
7-1: Takekaze, Kisenosato, Wakakoyu
So we leave the halfway mark with a yusho race still in tact. Not bad for a Nakabi report, eh. Thanks for stopping and I look forward to drinking with you again on Senshuraku. Double rainbows be damned, Connolly’s gotcha covered for Day 9.