After the action of today, I’m circling the Goeido/Takayasu bout for tomorrow as my bout to watch. Takayasu is looking on form, as is Goeido but we still have not learned the extent of Goeido’s foot injury and how it may impact his performance. Ikioi was a fortunate Day 1 draw for the Ozeki. Takayasu is a different story, especially as he is now looking at promotion. Takayasu crushed the competition in our Ozeki Promotion Poll, easily doubling votes cast for second place Mitakeumi.
We didn’t get the half-henka from Harumafuji. Instead, as Bruce mentioned, a strong Kotoshogiku powered him out. Kotoshogiku will face Takanoiwa tomorrow and needs these wins against upper maegashira. Takanoiwa will need to brush off his rather sloppy loss today and demonstrate more agility if he plans to escape the “hug-and-chug” and an early 0-2 record.
Ikioi has had a rough time of things against sanyaku opponents, exemplified by the Goeido match. Harumafuji will need to bounce back strong to stay in contention. I expect Harumafuji to be “on” for this one. He can’t count Ikioi out, though. He has been improving steadily and may be able to take advantage of a weakened Yokozuna. This is where we may learn just how hurt Harumafuji is.
Hakuho faces Sokokurai. This should be an easy one but Sokokurai is crafty. I doubt Hakuho will have the ability to heft Sokokurai out like Terunofuji could. However, the deep grappling skills of Hakuho should be too much for Sokokurai. This week, Sokokurai may look a bit out of his depth. Ozeki Terunofuji, however, will get his first real challenge in Tamawashi.
Further down the banzuke, I really enjoy Yoshikaze/Endo bouts and both look to be on good form. This should be exciting. Look for Tochinoshin to struggle, however, against Ishiura. He was very shaky on that knee today and Ishiura’s agility will be a great asset.
It’s still very early but we have learned that the grasp Tochinoshin and Okinoumi have on makuuchi is tenuous. Kaisei may not be the only big name demotion coming up in May – and with much sadness, he may be the one with the strongest opportunity to bounce back quickly. I do applaud his corner for holding him back to let him heal. Case in point, Osunaarashi’s knee is still a concern as he walked a bit gingerly on it, despite the win. Another case is Sadanofuji. I hope that his kyujo status is not a prelude to retirement.