初場所2016, 14日目: Kotoshogiku Can Taste It

Kotoshogiku has the yusho in the bag. With Hakuho’s quick loss to Kisenosato, only Goeido stands in his way. He’s also clearly determined. After a matta, he plowed straight into a helpless Tochiozan. Tochi-from-Kochi does seem a bit weakened in his left leg; it seems a bit like Ikioi’s injury. He was in obvious pain crouching for the tachiai, which probably caused – and was exacerbated by – his false-start.

Toyonoshima may have just hurt his own chances at getting into a playoff by overexerting and getting injured in his win against Yoshikaze. He was clearly the eager one today. Usually Yoshikaze is in a four-point stance at the tachiai well before his opponent squats. But today Toyonoshima was waiting for him. However, he needs Goeido to win to have any hope of preventing a Giku yusho. With Hakuho also possibly nursing a sore leg, making some sense of his henka and quick loss today, this yusho is virtually a lock for Kotoshogiku.

The field has been whittled down as Harumafuji lost to a great throw by Kakuryu in our first yokozuna battle of 2016. Both attacked quickly on the tachiai but Kakuryu locked Harumafuji’s left arm and forced him to his knee. We now have a three man race.

I’ve got to feel for Goeido. A disappointing ozeki, struggling mightily with nine losses coming into the day, picks up his 10th loss by a hairpull called by the judges. He went for a hatakikomi as Uncle Taka had been

More highway robbery by judges as Tochinoshin was stripped of a deserved win – and goes makekoshi – after a crap mono-ii. Aminishiki’s heel was out before Tochinoshin touched the ground but they conferred and gave Tochinoshin’s money to the geezer. It was a bit satisfying to see Aminishiki get squashed by 360 pounds of Georgian beef, though.

After winning 3 of his first 9 matches against sanyaku opponents, Ikioi has now dropped only won 1 of 5 against maegashira opponents. He’s been hobbled by the leg injury, definitely, but always gives it a great effort – which was really on display against Tochinoshin in the win and Ichinojo in the loss. Ichinojo’s loss today was similar to Tochinoshin’s. Despite the upper hand in the bout, the loss in each case went to the man who tried to break his fall. However, in Ichinojo’s case, it was a deserved loss.

Kitataiki had forced the M8 to the edge and was trying to decapitate him but somehow, Takayasu was able to turn the tables and throw Kitataiki. I hope to be able to watch a replay of that sometime from a few angles. It was amazing. Amuru has a chance to get his kachi-koshi tomorrow. He was punching above his weight last tournament at M5 but seems to have solidified himself as a great fit in the lower half of the makuuchi after his initial struggles. Anyone 10kg lighter even than Harumafuji who’s able to stay in the makuuchi gets my respect.

I was wrong about this tournament being scripted. Kotoshogiku’s knees had seemed to be bothering him before this tournament. Seeing Tochiozan be the rikishi struggling to squat for the tachiai, then Hakuho being so soft against Kisenosato and a few other wrestlers this tournament, has me wondering how many walking wounded we have out there. I’m going to see if I can start tracking suspected injured wrestlers. There just seems to be many each tournament and Hakuho defied the odds for so long.

It had been clear Kotoshogiku was one of the walking wounded for much of last year. He would be in obvious pain before the tachiai but maybe he’s finally healthy and everyone else is still not 100%? Anyway, that’s the only explanation I’ve got for the sudden turn around in his performance. Still, though, his usual jack-rabbit leg strength doesn’t seem to be quite 100%, either. It’s working to get guys to the edge but not over in many cases, so he’s had to use quite a few throws.

 

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