Dispatched With Great Prejudice
Going into Haru, Terunofuji was a sad, depressing tale. As readers of Tachiai recall, both Andy and I lamented that Terunofuji was this amazing unstoppable force. Even Hakuho could not be counted on reliably to stop him. There were rikishi who were privately afraid to face him on the dohyo, as he had a tendency to win in ways that risked injury to his opponents.
Then came injuries, and more injuries. The Mongolian giant sometimes appeared as if he could hardly mount the dohyo let along present himself as a worthy opponent. As a result, he has been kadoban 4 times in the last 8 basho, and was becoming a bit of a parody of this original self. In the basho where he was able to secure a winning record, it was always 8-7, the minimum required. He was limping along, hoping to somehow endure.
On Tachiai we openly discussed if he should consider retirement, as he was not presenting Ozeki class sumo, and was embarrassing himself. There is nothing we can find in the sumo press that discusses how Terunofuji returned to close to his original form, but it’s clear that at least for Haru, the great Terunofuji is back.
Tachiai congratulates the big Ozeki in not just returning to confirmed Ozeki status, but doing so in a truly welcome display of strength and skill.