It seems the priest-gyoji somehow bungled his work in the consecration of the dohyo this tournament. Perhaps one of the dried chestnuts was rotten. Perhaps there were lice in the rice. The gods of the dohyo are not appeased and demand more human sacrifice.
Today the pack of undefeated rikishi broke. Only one left with a chance at a zensho-yusho. Onosho. I correct my prediction. It’s not a definite kachi-koshi this time. I am betting on double figures. Again. If the man keeps it up, and continues to have a good relationship with the deities that protect him from injury, this would be his last kinboshi. He is going to be a Yokozuna sooner rather than later. Komusubi in Kyushu. Sekiwake in Hatsu. Ozeki in Nagoya.
So he is not going to be a maegashira to gain kinboshi. But another factor is that there is going to be a dearth of Yokozuna to take kinboshi from. Perhaps by Nagoya 2018, there will be none.
Harumafuji’s loss today was not due to injury. His face is rather hard to read (it’s written in scar script, and I’m not fluent in that), but I believe his pause at the monitor yesterday was definitely frustration. Frustration on the verge of tears, which he really had to pause and get under control. And I think that his rather beautifully performed Tsukahara vault at the end of today’s torikumi shows that his sumo is not limited by any injuries.
So what’s up?
I hate to admit it, but it’s either age or mental pressure. Whichever it is, it is hurting his reaction time. He is a split of a second too late, where he is used to be the quicker wrestler, the one who sets the pace and finds a solution before there is a problem. And that did not work for him against Hokutofuji, and it did not work for him today against the Red Belted Bane of the Sanyaku. The young maegashira were simply too quick for him.
If he weren’t a Yokozuna, he could go the way of Aminishiki and survive as a sekitori until he starts walking with a cane. But he is a Yokozuna. And a make koshi is intai. Like I said yesterday, there are two possibilities:
- After the fourth kinboshi, he announces his retirement, Chiyonofuji style.
- He needs to go kyujo. But he needs a convincing injury to do that. So he plays recklessly and gets himself off the dohyo. But at his age, unless the injury is a broken nail, this means probably that the intai is just postponed to the next basho. He won’t heal as fast as a 21 year old athlete and the body he’ll need to fix is not in mint condition to begin with.
His current statement is that he’ll keep on gambarizing till the end. Which tells me he is not going for the kyujo option.
So as much as it pains me to say this, I think we may soon see a thick oicho-mage, chock full of memories, being sheared ceremoniously by Isegahama oyakata.
And that oyakata is probably in a very bad mood today, not just because of his dear Yokozuna. And here we come again to the bloodthirst of the dohyo deities.
I fully expected Terunofuji to be sekiwake at Kyushu. It’s clear as crystal that he can’t perform any ozeki sumo and that he needs to get intimate with the weights and get himself into shape. And this torikumi was no different than the previous one. For two seconds, there was the old Terunofuji, carrying his opponent in his hands to the tawara. But then the muscles gave. He tried to give it his all, holding on for a few more seconds at the other edge of the dohyo where Shohozan carried him. He was carrying both his own weight and Shohozan’s, and then his knee gave.
He limped out of the dohyo. After getting out of the showers, he could no longer walk unassisted, and limped to his car leaning on loyal Shunba’s shoulder.
So yes, sekiwake at Kyushu. No problem. But injuring that knee for the third time. The man is not yet 26 years old. His whole future was ahead of him. No, the oyakata is probably not happy today. In his 25th anniversary about two weeks ago, he said that he knows that raising both a Yokozuna and an Ozeki is not something that is going to happen to him again any time soon. I suppose he didn’t think he’ll need to say his farewells to them so soon after that celebration.
In other news:
Today Goeido had to postpone his henka by about 6 seconds, because of Chiyotairyu fierce tsuppari. But the sidestep did come, even if at this stage it cannot be called a henka.
All other kokonoe makuuchi guys seem to have won. The most pleasing to watch was Chiyomaru, with very fierce and determined tsuppari and a choke.
Mitakeumi saves a little of his lost face, and neither he nor Tochinoshin lose their mawashi, much to my relief.
Yoshikaze makes short work of Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji is good, but he’s not stable. How can you lose like that to a rikishi who doesn’t even look at you once during the whole bout?
Shodai, of all people, helps us evade Kotoshogiku Day for a while longer.
Tamawashi unfortunately slips on the dohyo and gives Tochiozan a W.
Ichinojo seems to really have woken up. He actually looks as if he cares.