Kyushu 2021 Day Seven
Uwatedashinage. Hidenoumi broke his stalemate with Terutsuyoshi by pulling out a textbook pulling underarm throw. He just moved sideways and yanked the back of Terutsuyoshi's mawashi to send him down.
Match of the Day
Maegashira #17 West Shohozan versus Maegashira #14 West Chiyonokuni
Shohozan looked like he would never come back to the top division, but the 37 year old just got there for the basho in his hometown of Fukuoka. He hasn't looked great, but on Day Seven he had a fun one with Chiyonokuni that was an intense slap fest. Shohozan did end up spectacularly crashing into the crowd, but he gave the home folks a show.
And then there were two. Terunofuji and Takakeisho are the only rikishi remaining undefeated after a solid week of matches. Terunofuji has looked strong despite facing every rikishi's best, and his ability to rearrange a match to fit his advantage is impressive. Takakeisho, meanwhile, looks like his old self, shoving anyone and everyone extremely hard in a rhythm which does not allow anyone to touch him.
These two are not the only ones with a chance at the yusho. Abi's loss to Hokutofuji puts him in an immediate chase group with Mitakeumi and Tamawashi. If they all keep winning, they do get a chance at determining their own fate against the current leaders. Abi's loss also demonstrates that not losing is easier said than done. Mitakeumi is guaranteed to face the top men, and he might be a first opponent for Maegashira coming up to see Sanyaku wrestlers.
Takakeisho, meanwhile, is in the odd position of always needing to fight before the Yokozuna. Terunofuji will be last on each day's lineup, and that means Takakeisho will be putting the pressure on him. As long as Takakeisho keeps winning, then Terunofuji will begin every match knowing he needs to win to keep his share of the leaderboard. Of course, if Takakeisho can't keep winning, Terunofuji will have an opening. This will provide a certain element of drama to the final two or three matches. (Shodai will be in there sometimes.)
There is another week left of winning before we would get a Takakeisho-Terunofuji showdown for the yusho. Many things can happen between now and then, but the first seven days of the Kyushu basho might have shown there is a key rivalry at the top. They won't square off until the final weekend, and probably not until the final day. Yet the two men are battling each other while actually wrestling other rikishi.
This is why rivalries are so important to sumo. A Yokozuna and an Ozeki are going toe to toe for the chance to take the yusho against each other. This is making Kyushu exciting, despite the fact that only Mitakeumi seems eager to standout among the top ranks. The fight for the lower Sanyaku berths could be a pileup more than a race to the finish. It doesn't matter. We have a showdown looming.