Welcome back welcome back welcome back to Osaka Municipal Gymnasium at the half way point in our Haru basho journey. I love Osaka. A place where you can find great food and conversation all over the city. A place with salt of the earth people. A place I’ve had the opportunity to visit twice. A place where I nearly ran into Gagamaru and soiled myself (nearly). A place where I saw Takanohana and said hello. A place where I yelled at keppare (ganbare or do your best in a local Akita dialect) to Takekaze, only to have him stop look directly at me smile and walk away. And finally a place where I got to meet Kitazukara work security, but basically that consisted of him talking to fans and treating them like each one of them was a long lost friend. If you have the opportunity, go to Osaka. If you have the opportunity, go to a sumo tournament. You won’t regret it.
Enough with the nostalgia. Nakabi found us with a relatively close basho between Kakuryu 7-0, Hakuho at 7-0, Baruto 6-1 and likely non-factor Shotenro. With these players in fine form it appears we may have more movement on the Natsu basho banzuke. Only time will tell, but thankfully we still have a yusho race and Nakabi brought some bouts worth retelling.
Upstart Juryo man Chiyotairyu is 7-1 currently having won seven matches in a row this basho. I have noted that too often he has been winning via pull downs and back peddling sumo, but the last two days he has completely dominated Kaisei and Kokkai with powerful forward moving sumo. Maybe someone told him to man up? Whatever the reason for the sudden style change, I like what I’ve seen the last two days.
Takanoyama vs Tenkaiho
It’s easy to understand why people like Takanoyama. What’s not to like about an underdog. Here’s my problem though. If he doesn’t trick his competition within the first second of the bout, a smart rikishi will never lose to him. Slowly and methodically one could take this guy and walk him out of the ring. After Takanoyama missed a leg trip at the tachi-ai that is exactly what Tenkaiho. Tenkaiho moves to 3-5 while Takanoyama drops to 3-5.
Sadanofuji vs Shotenro
It’s nice to see the M16 Shotenro back in the Makuuchi division. It seems like he’s been gone a long while but it turns out he was only demoted in January and is already back up here. At 7-1 it’s clear that he’s got a pretty easy schedule. After a false start Shotenro manhandles Sadanofuji. Working him to the bales and then grabbing the back of his neck for a nicely executed uwatedashinage. Sho moves to 7-1.
Chiyonokuni vs Okinoumi
I am still scratching my head over this one. Okinoumi drives Chiyonokuni to the bales and appears to have pushed him out of the ring but he hits the ground at about the same time. A mono-ii was called and the judges determined that Chiyonokuni was the aggressor (?) with a tsukiotoshi. I thought Chiyonokuni should have lost as he no chance of staying atop the dohyo, but what do I know. Okinoumi is robbed of the win and drops to 5-3 while the Country of Chiyono moves to 2-6.
Takayasu vs. Miyabiyama
There is a lot to love about Takayasu. This kid is fearless, probably impart to his former Oyakata and Kisenosato. Today was a great example of that. Jaba and T.Y. went all out slapping the hell out of each other for a good fifteen seconds. Now that might not seem like a long time, but remember, this is sumo. Fifteen second is an eternity in sumo. Takayasu was definitely the packing more of a punch but Miyabiyama can slap with the best of them. Miyabi wraps Takayasu up and grabs hold of his arm in an attempted to force him out of the ring. Takayasu withstands the attack, gets his arm loose, and gets a grip on Jaba’s mawashi. Yasu drives The Biggins and finally throws him to the ground with a great shitatehineri. Takayasu stays relevant at 6-2.
Toyonoshima vs Homasho
Solid technique from Toyonoshima. He kept his hands in tight and easily forces Homasho out of the ring. Homie needs to get low his game is defense and you can’t win sumo matches standing tall. Toyoshima moves to 6-2 and you can ask Briton-Meyer where Homasho lies (other than on the ground just outside of the dohyo).
Wakakoyu vs Aran
I am not saying that I am afraid of these two rikishi. I am just saying that right now they appear to me, to be fronting the most bad ass tough guy personas. This one was all Wakakoyu on the offensive. Driving Aran this way and that. Waka shoves Alan wildly out of the dohyo but Alan had his foot on the bales and held on just long enough to see Wakakoyu hit the ground first before he flew into the third row. Wakakoyu thought he had won it and started the winner’s ceremony only to discover what this reporter already knew: Alan got lucky today. Wakakoyu leaves dumbfounded.
Yoshikaze vs Tochinowaka
Yoshikaze has fire in his belly this basho and although after today he dropped to 2-6 today after his loss to Tochinowaka, that’s two more wins than he should have anyways at this rank. Tochinowaka may well be a Yokozuna one day. He certainly has the body type. Give him a few more bashos and I think we’ll see him pick up some unexpected wins. Today he calmly works Yoshi out with a oshitaoshi. Tochinowaka moves to a respectable 3-5 at the M1 rank.
Baruto vs Tokitenku
Bart anticipates Toki’s funny business and quickly knock him out of the ring oshidashi style. Bart moves to 7-1 and all of Estonia goes wild! This reporter can’t help but cheer as well. I’d love to see a Yokozuna from Eastern Europe before the year is done.
Aminishiki vs Kotooshu
There is a riksihi in Kotooshu’s heya named, ready for it, Koto no shu. For whatever reason Kotooshu is a no shu far too often when he faces off against Aminishiki the king of sneaky. Today Oshu just psyches himself out running straight past Sneaky, flying off the dohyo into the fourth row. Sneak moves to 4-4 and Oshu drops to a 5-3 record with numerous Ozeki and Yokozuna left to face off against next week.
Kisenosato vs Kakuryu
At 7-0 Kakuryu is to the point where he can smell an Ozeki promotion. Today would be a huge test however facing off against the hot and cold Kisenosato. Today Kise was fired up and red hot. Kakuryu had no chance as Kisenosato over powers the Mongolian for the oshidashi win. Kise moves to 5-3 while Kakuryu drops to 7-1.
Hakuho vs Tochinoshin
I’ll say it. Hakuho should win this tournament unless he decided to throw it for whatever convoluted reason I am sure I wouldn’t be able to understand. It’s his for the taking after Kakuryu’s loss. Hakuho easily takes Noshin to school and moves to 8-0.
With all the story lines still basically intact, week two of the long lost Haru Basho should be interesting to say the least. Be sure to be back here tomorrow ’round “tea time” for Day Nine Osaka action. You can bring the whisky and Bertrum will bring the rocks! Later