March 2018, Day 8, Sokokurai v Asanoyama

Sokokurai stays in the pocket against Asanoyama’s determined shoves and secures the left-handed overarm grip in the nick of time. Asanoyama has him backed up to the straw at the edge of the ring, but that grip is keeping him in there. And then, with a nimble shift of the hips, it gives him the win by uwatenage (overarm throw).

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March 2018, Day 6, Sokokurai v Meisei

Meisei is up from Juryo for the day to fill out the top-division schedule, and veteran Sokokurai doesn’t go easy on the youngster. Meisei charges in with a good tachiai, showing no tentativeness on the bigger stage, but Sokokurai changes levels well and doesn’t let Meisei get settled underneath. After some hand fighting Meisei gets an overarm belt grip on the right side, but it’s only the loose top layers of Sokokurai’s belt and doesn’t provide any real leverage. Sokokurai, on the other hand, gets both arms in deep for the two-handed belt grip and uses it to lift Meisei off the ground before setting him down and squashing him to the dirt by yoritaoshi (front crush out).

March 2018, Day 5, Sokokurai v Hidenoumi

Hidenoumi has never beaten Sokokurai in five previous bouts. He bears down with a strong left-handed overarm grip, charging forward and thinking maybe this sixth time things will go his way. But Sokokurai, moving backwards, sneaks a left-handed overarm grip of his own and manages to plant his feet and twist Hidenoumi around, depositing him on the wrong side of the straw. Both men finish the day at 1-4, while Sokokurai improves to a perfect 6-0 record against Hidenoumi.

March 2018, Day 2, Sokokurai v Nishikigi

Sokokurai thinks he has Nishikigi on the ropes, but Nishikigi executes a nifty reversal at the edge of the ring to pull out the victory.

January 2018, Day 12, Shohozan v Sokokurai

One goes up, one goes down. Shohozan picks up his eighth win, and Sokokurai his eighth loss, in a bout that highlights all of Shohozan’s strengths. He starts with strong pushes to Sokokurai’s face, which Sokokurai defends by grabbing onto Shohozan’s arms and working inside for a belt grip. But Shohozan adapts well, using his own belt grip to swing Sokokurai around and set up the final push. With an overarm grip and a hand on the side of the head, Shohozan crushes Sokokurai to the clay.

January 2018, Day 9, Sokokurai v Ryuden

Great battle for the belt in this one, with Sokokurai and Ryuden both gaining and losing grips on both sides, trying to be the first to land both hands solidly. It looks like they both lock up at about the same time, but Sokokurai’s grip has all the layers of Ryuden’s belt, while Ryuden’s grip just has the top layer of Sokokurai’s. So Sokokurai’s effort is directly transmitted to Ryuden’s center of gravity, and Ryuden wastes energy moving Sokokurai’s belt around without really affecting his body. This makes all the difference, and Ryuden can’t defend at the edge. Both men crash down to the floor below the dohyo, with Sokokurai landing in the lap of an elderly gentleman in the first row. A gentleman himself, Sokokurai makes sure the man is alright before getting up.

January 2018, Day 8, Sokokurai v Ishiura

Ishiura’s stays busy, trying an arm bar throw (tottari) that goes nowhere, and fending off Sokokurai’s arms before diving in for a left-handed inside grip. Sokokurai ends up on top, with Ishiura’s head tucked down into his chest. Not much Ishiura can do but charge forward and hope for the best, but Sokokurai leans over for a deep overarm belt grip that he uses to pull Ishiura onto his knees in the dirt.