The Ozeki Recover.
The Nagoya basho has a reputation for being a wild and bumpy ride. With the large number of young rikishi in the top half of Makuuchi for the first time, each day’s torikumi is loaded with potential. Only 3 days into the tournament, the amount of upsets and unexpected results continues to climb. It makes for a huge amount of fan interest because we literally do not know what to expect. I love it.
One thing that is starting to become clear is that some of the Yokozuna and Ozeki remain injured and are not up to the level of performance that they would want. But even so, they are still giving everything they have. In some past basho, you could expect Hakuho to steam-roll everyone, and whoever was injured could gamberize and get by. This works best when the rikishi know each other fairly well, and can assume what kind of sumo they will bring to each match.
Today was the first time that Kisenosato saw purple rain. In his loss in the final match of the day, the fans threw their zabuton at the dohyo. During the basho in Tokyo, Kisenosato racked up several losses, but the fans did not send their cushions sailing. Perhaps it was because they understood how banged up he still was. That consideration seems to be over, and his loss triggered a flurry of purple zabuton floating skyward. Interior decorating choices aside, Kisenosato has little hope of ever recovering to Yokozuna level without surgery on his pectoral. The sooner they get him under the knife the better. Even then, it’s not a sure thing that he will ever be back.
Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Nishikigi remains undefeated. He has really found his motivation after his demotion to Juryo. This rikishi has a lot of potential, and I am glad to see him engaged and winning.
Chiyonokuni defeats Okinoumi – Chiyonokuni finally wins one against hapless Okinoumi. For this first time this basho, Chiyonokuni actually looked solid and on his game.
Aoiyama defeats Ishiura – Ishiura continues to look lost and helpless, which is amazing given the strength of his debut basho in January. Aoiyama seems to be at a nearly perfect rank this basho, where his ponderous bulk allows him to slap his way to victory most of the time.
Onosho defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo is looking really lack luster again this basho, and Onosho seems hungry and aggressive. The match was quick and very one sided, Onosho just moved Inchinojo out in a hurry.
Kagayaki defeats Ura – This was all Kagayaki, and he countered Ura quite well. Ura seemed to have not really found his footing from the tachiai on. Kagayaki finally picks up his first win.
Yoshikaze defeats Tamawashi – This is the best I have seen Yoshikaze fight since Nagoya last year. In his day 3 match against Tamawashi, the big Mongolian came on strong, and had Yoshikaze off balance for a moment but could not finish him. Yoshikaze battled back fiercely and was able to lock up Tamawashi’s belt. From there, Yoshikaze took charge and won.
Goeido defeats Mitakeumi – Great to see Goeido back in a 2.0 boot up again. Also Mitakeumi seems to have decided he stepped out and accepted defeat perhaps a moment early. Either way, Goeido finally gets his first win.
Terunofuji defeats Ikioi – Monster effort here by Ikioi, and it’s clear as glass that Terunofuji is injured once more. In spite of this, and Ikioi’s fantastic sumo today, Terunofuji found a way to pick up his first win. Frankly it could have gone either way.
Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – It’s really sad to watch a former great like the Kyushu Bulldozer go 0-3. But Ojisan Kotoshogiku seems to have nothing left of his legs, which was the heart of his sumo.
Harumafuji defeats Takakeisho – Very happy that Harumafuji was able to finally pick up his first win, though for a moment Takakeisho had him on one leg and in perilous position. Harumafuji recovered well and took over effectively.
Hakuho defeats Shodai – Now at 1039 wins, Hakuho dispatched Shodai to remain unbeaten. Hakuho delivered a slap at the tachiai, and it seemed to make Shodai collapse. Not sure what happened there.
Hokutofuji defeats Kakuryu – Big K started strong, but an amazing rally from Hokutofuji results in his first kinboshi for his very first match with a Yokozuna. We keep seeing really impressive sumo from Hokutofuji, and he will be a big deal in the not too distant future.
Tochinoshin defeats Kisenosato – Kisenosato is still quite injured, and not performing well. It’s sad, it’s depressing, the NSK would rather nobody notice, but it’s there for all to witness. Prior to his injury, Kisenosato went left, always. Now with his injury, he seems to have no power on his left, and is almost helpless on the dohyo. Please, Great Pumpkin, only medical intervention has a chance at putting you back together. Kinboshi for Tochinoshin.