Alright, Endo’s out of the doghouse. Two consecutive makekoshi (one due to injury) sent him plummeting from M1 to M14, and he was in danger of dropping out of the top division with another losing record this tournament. But he earns his eighth win against a struggling Sadanoumi, fighting off Sadanoumi’s attempts at a belt grip to get a double-underarm belt grip of his own, which he quickly turns into a fine underarm throw (shitatenage) that sends Sadanoumi tumbling out of the ring. Sadanoumi has yet to win a bout after returning from injury on Day 6.
This one’s all about Endo’s right hand. He leans right at the tachiai, working his right arm around for a solid overarm grip on the side of Tokushoryu’s belt. So when Tokushoryu tries to toss him with a left-side sukuinage (beltless arm throw), Endo’s got an anchor to keep from going over. Tokushoryu’s left arm is high underneath Endo’s right, making hard for him to keep hold of that grip, but Endo uses it again in defense before spinning out of the way and dropping Tokushoryu with the uwatedashinage (pulling overarm throw). Tokushoryu earns his makekoshi (losing record) and will probably drop down to the Juryo division next tournament, while Endo improves to 6-4.
Endo does everything right until the very end, when everything goes wrong in an instant. He has a good tachiai, staying low and pushing hard against Takanoiwa’s chin to move him backwards while keeping his feet moving and hips low. Endo sets his feet for the final charge, loading up with both hands against the apparently helpless Takanoiwa who is balanced on the tawara with his heels hanging over the danger zone. Somehow gripping the straw with just his right toes, Takanoiwa spins sideways and pulls down on Endo’s head with his left hand, and Endo goes stumbling by to his fourth loss. Takanoiwa is having a great tournament, improving to 7-2.
On any given day you never know which Endo is going to show up – the one who gets driven back to the edge where he gives up and just steps out, or the Endo who digs deep and fights back, finding a way to win despite falling behind early. (No mention of the third Endo, the Endo who dominates his opponent from the start and cruises to an easy win – that Endo hardly ever shows up.) Today’s Endo gets destroyed on the tachiai by the much heavier Chiyomaru, and endures Chiyomaru trying to twist his head off with both hands on his face. But he grabs on tightly with his right hand on the front of Chiyomaru’s belt, and this, along with some good neck muscles, keeps his head attached. Chiyomaru bet everything on the two-handed face grab, so his arms are out of position and he can’t defend against Endo’s come-from-behind charge. Endo improves to 5-3, and Chiyomaru falls to an even 4-4.
This bout wins the Prettiest Mawashi Matchup Award for the tournament so far, with Endo in golden yellow and Kotoyuki in gentle lavender. But Kotoyuki’s belt belies the ferocity of his sumo. He stands up Endo at the tachiai before pulling back and letting Endo stumble forward. With Endo off-balance, Kotoyuki charges forward with a few sharp thrusts to end it quickly. Here’s hoping Kotoyuki gets enough wins to see a promotion back up to the top division next tournament.
Endo finally gets his shiznit together against a game opponent in Yutakayama. Yutakayama is in his second-ever tournament in Makuuchi after getting bounced down to Juryo last time around, and he’ll have to put together a string of wins to avoid the same fate this September. But back to Endo, he shows good resolve from a precarious position at the edge of the dohyo that usually sees him let off the steam and give up. Nice to see him fight back and get the win. Yutakayama has a great bout up until the very end, when he makes the common mistake of pushing too hard without keeping his feet stable and underneath him. Endo moves to 3-1, Yutakayama 1-3.
Welcome back to the Ryogoku Kokugikan National Gymnasium in Tokyo for the September Basho! Things get started with two wrestlers who’ve had it rough recently. The end of last year saw both Endo and Okinoumi near the top of the division, but a series of losing records sent them both plummeting down to the bottom of the rankings. I expect both to perform well against the weaker competition down here, but someone’s got to lose today. And today it’s Endo. Okinoumi locks up a solid right-handed overarm grip and expeditiously dispatches Endo with an efficient uwatenage (overarm throw).