Sometimes events that one never thinks could ever happen, actually do. Two Yokozuna out injured. One ozeki out injured. One ozeki will be demoted. Another kadoban. What do we have left? If all goes well, a looming senshuraku battle between the greatest yokozuna ever and likely the greatest virgin ozeki ever. Kisenosato benefited from the freebie win with Goeido’s departure. Tomorrow he will face Ichinojo, who clearly has the ability to win at the highest levels.
The thing is, the bout with Ichinojo almost doesn’t matter. If Hakuho beats Takanoiwa, Kisenosato MUST beat Hakuho to finally win his first yusho. The champ beat Kotoshogiku today, and I’m tempted to leave it there but Giku did show spirit though his legs are failing him. The bout with Ichinojo only matters if Kisenosato wants to leave himself the luxury of a do-over if he loses to Hakuho in the first go. With both Takanoiwa and Ichinojo losing, Hakuho is alone in second place.
Endo surprised Terunofuji with a perfectly executed half-henka. Terunofuji lacked any ability to slow down or move laterally, leaving Endo one win from a winning record and certain advancement up the banzuke in March. Tamawashi secured a winning record and caught out Ikioi, who seemed a bit tired from his last few bouts while Okinoumi woke up to stun everyone, especially Shodai. Shodai is now makekoshi, making room at Sekiwake for Kotoshogiku.
Takanoiwa lost in today’s most spirited bout against Takayasu. I think Takayasu wants to make a solid case for having three sekiwake in March. That was the match of the day in makuuchi. Many of the earlier bouts featured wrestlers nursing injuries or just weary after two weeks of battle. Takekaze lost the previous bout when Takarafuji anticipated the change of direction and easily pushed the geezer out. The bout before that had a clearly tired Mitakeumi falling to the gung-ho Sokokurai.