November 2015, Day 9: Hakuho Rules

Hakuho is back to his usual, dominant self. He forced Goeido out quickly, without trouble. Afterward, the camera panned to him as he sat ringside for Kakuryu/Tochiozan and he just seemed so bored. Tochiozan will be a more interesting matchup tomorrow as he looked great against Kakuryu today. He forced the yokozuna out so quickly, one has to wonder if Kakuryu is injured. They met head-on but Tochiozan was able to get a head of steam and send the Mongolian into the crowd with his third loss of the tournament, any yusho hopes dashed.

Ikioi proved to be a great challenge for Harumafuji in the sanyaku’s match of the day. This was a well-contested bout. The two met with a strong tachiai and Ikioi powered through Harumafuji’s nodowa, forcing a battle on the belt. Three times it looked like Ikioi might get the better of Harumafuji, forcing the yokozuna to the edge. On the third try, Harumafuji proved the master escape artist, forcing Ikioi to the ground and landing on top.

It’s been a while since Kisenosato got up to his matta-inducing trickiness. He baited Terunofuji today, I think wanting to make sure the young ozeki was committed to a strong tachiai and not prepared for a henka. However, with that bum knee he showed little resistance and Kisenosato forced him out. Kisenosato and Harumafuji remain the lone sanyaku challengers, one off Hakuho’s usual, dominant pace. Resurgent Shohozan and Takayasu are the lone rank-and-filers holding up to also get their kachi-koshi today. If they carry on, they’ll be in contention for special prizes and to find themselves back in the midst of the banzuke, where they belong.

Okinoumi picked up a great upset of Kotoshogiku. He met Giku strongly at the tachiai and defended well, for a while, against the jack rabbit thrusts. Once the ozeki had committed to going forward, Okinoumi retreated, pulling back as Kotoshogiku flopped on his belly. As such, Kotoshogiku will be hoping to play the role of spoiler tomorrow against Harumafuji, rather than as a contender.

Ichinojo looked back to his old self against Myogiryu. The sekiwake had nothing to counter the bulk and was forced out quickly. Myogiryu will face Terunofuji tomorrow. If he can’t beat the weakened ozeki, he is clearly not up to sanyaku snuff this tournament and will likely tumble down the banzuke in January.

Yoshikaze was utterly dominant versus fellow komusubi, Tochinoshin. The little guy met the Georgian head on at the tachiai and then produced drive, forcing Tochinoshin backward. Tochinoshin pivoted but Yoshikaze picked up his leg and then carried him out the other end. Yoshikaze’s probably already measuring space on his mantle for a few more special prizes. He faces Osunaarashi tomorrow while Tochinoshin will face Ichinojo. Tochinoshin has owned Ichinojo and Osunaarashi has a dominant 7-1 advantage against Yoshikaze but they should both be good matchups.


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