Here at the close of Act One, the competitors begin to fall into three groups: those hungry for a title or special prize or big promotion, those in over their heads, and those in the middle who will likely be happy with a kachi-koshi winning record. We’ll deal with those over their heads first.
Where things stand
Kisenosato’s retirement drama is resolved, and word came down last night from Herouth that Tochinoshin’s thigh injury has forced him to withdraw from the tournament. Goeido and Ikioi appear to want to stick with it for now but are in terrible condition. Adding to their woes, several of our favorite maegashira enter Day 5 desperate for wins, including Asanoyama, Yoshikaze, and Daishomaru.
Though it’s too early to start thinking yusho, Hakuho has a shaky hold on the lead with several up-starts like Mitakeumi and Kaisei. Notably the biggest surprise of the first few days, though, must be Nishikigi. Speaking of shaky starts, Onosho was the benefactor of a technical disqualification yesterday, so his hold on the lead is tenuous. And we’ll want to see if Aoiyama can recover from that disappointing loss. (Rules are rules). His sleeper status may benefit him deeper in the yusho race. And finally, Ichinojo has been on fire against the top crop. Will he keep it going?
Obviously, the biggest clutch of wrestlers have 2 or 3 wins and I’m not going to go through every one but I do want to highlight a few, starting from the top. Kakuryu and Takayasu are in a spot of bother and will want to close Act One with one more win. Hokutofuji and Kotoshogiku have also been showing us some of their best sumo. Further down the banzuke, it’s been great to see light from stars Endo and Abi.
Enough with the intro, let’s get to the action.
Day 5 Results
Makuuchi action begins with no visitors from Juryo as Kisenosato’s absence from the torikumi temporarily evens things out. So from the bottom rungs of the division we have Daiamami taking on Kotoeko. Kotoeko starts with a half-hearted henka, easily countered by the larger Daiamami who wastes little time taking charge, wrapping up the lavender mawashi and throwing Kotoeko to the dohyo. A much needed win for Daiamami who moves to 2-3 while Kotoeko falls to 3-2.
Next up, Yutakayama faced off against Chiyoshouma, who quickly got a left hand grip of the larger man’s mawashi. With that, he reached up with the right to the back of Yutakayama’s head, stepped back and pulled. Despite Yutakayama’s desperate attempt to maintain balance, Chiyoshouma kept the pressure on his opponent’s back and prone arm, expertly executing a quick katasukashi win. Both men close Act One at 3-2.
Kotoyuki took advantage of Daishomaru’s poor form and did what he does best: oshidashi. Daishomaru is winless and staring Juryo demotion in the face, while Kotoyuki improves to 3-2.
Next, Yago faced off against Chiyonokuni in our first bout featuring two wrestlers from the leadership peloton. Yago was a bit too eager, causing a false start. From the tachiai, though, he seemed to have control. Chiyonokuni’s tsuppari was enthusiastic and forceful, driving Yago backwards. The big man seemed to take it in stride and when he established a firm, two-handed grip on his opponent’s belt, the tide shifted. Yago drove Chiyonokuni across the dohyo. Chiyonokuni slid to the side, desperate to escape the bullfrog’s clutches and even managed to twist away from Yago’s left hand and had Yago teetering on the brink. But with a resolute right-hand grip (thankfully the right arm acting in stead of a spring-loaded tongue, which would be gross) Yago said, “Not so fast,” dragging Chiyonokuni to the ground. Great bout from two great wrestlers, both on 4-1 records and looking for advancement.
Kagayaki, now on full time Pamplona bull duty, faced Meisei. Predictably, Kagayaki charged, leading with his head. Meisei met him with full force at the tachiai but shifted left and grabbed Kagayaki by the right arm, forcing him down to the clay. Kagayaki falls to 1-4 and Meisei improves to 3-2. How is Ikioi even here? Always eager, the heavily bandaged karaoke champion squared off against Takarafuji. The solid tachiai drove Takarafuji back and out for his second win. Both are 2-3.
Endo started off quickly with a morozashi, two-handed grip, against Sadanoumi but Sadanoumi was able to get a solid grip of Endo’s mawashi as well. Endo recovered from an attempted throw on the edge as both tussled for control of this back-and-forth bout. Each man took turns with their backs against the tawara before action would settle, and return to the middle. Endo worked up a final charge and flattened Sadanoumi at the corner of the dohyo. Endo improves to 3-2, Sadanoumi falls to 2-3.
Abi came out with strong tsuppari against Kaisei but this is where he does need to learn to use the belt. His slaps had no effect on the big Brazilian, who effortlessly shoved Abi out. The secret to Abi is, avoid hatakikomi. Kaisei has learned and never over-committed. Kaisei stays tied for the lead with five wins while Abi falls to 3-2.
Asanoyama is out of sorts and in trouble. Daieisho absorbed the brunt of his tachiai but a simple left-ward shift and pull was enough to drop Asanoyama to his fifth loss. Daieisho stays hopeful at 2-3. Onosho battered Yoshikaze to grab an easy fifth win. Yoshikaze joins Asanoyama in the likely injured 0-5 crowd. Ryuden gave Aoiyama a bit more of a challenge than thought but never really got his own attack going, trying to avoid tsuppari but eventually falling to a hatakikomi loss. Aoiyama improves to 4-1, staying in the hunt, while Ryuden slips to 2-3.
Okinoumi’s been showing some strong sumo of late. Today, he took on Chiyotairyu. After playing, “Who Wants to Go First,” the game that always works to annoy the gyoji, Okinoumi took the initiative and got a solid grip on Chiyotairyu, winning with a throw. Okinoumi improves to 3-2 while Chiyotairyu slips to 2-3.
Hokutofuji had a plan against Kotoshogiku…don’t let him start the hug-n-chug. Keep him off the belt. He succeeded in that, but he never really got a counter attack going. Kotoshogiku kept up the pressure and actually won by oshidashi. Imagine that. Both men are 3-2.
Mitakeumi faced off against Tamawashi in the first sanyaku bout of the day. This was a straight forward oshi-slap fest but Mitakeumi’s tsuppari was a bit too strong as he backed Tamawashi out. Mitakeumi stays tied for the lead with his fifth win while Tamawashi drops to 3-2. Similarly, Takakeisho came out ready against Myogiryu, fought his fight, and won by quick oshidashi. Takakeisho stays in the hunt at 4-1 while Myogiryu falls to 1-4.
Takayasu was definitely the aggressor in todays bout with Shodai. However, his nodowa and oshi-attempts were not enough to keep Shodai off the belt. As Takayasu tried to escape and initiate his own throw, Shodai bullied through, forcing Takayasu off the dohyo. The Ozeki appeared to injure his arm while going down. Both men are 2-3. With Tochinoshin kyujo, Shohozan picked up the freebie win, and is also 2-3.
Goeido met Tochiozan with a forceful tachiai, and blasted him backwards. Remember what I was saying the other day about putting certain things to bed? Maybe that was a little hasty. Both men are 1-4.
Kakuryu needed to win a quick one against Ichinojo but had no answer for the big man today. Once Ichinojo got a belt grip, he took his time to wear down the injured Yokozuna. After a few minutes rebuffing Kakuryu’s attempts to throw, Ichinojo ended things by gently walking Kakuryu out the back of the dohyo. There may be several kyujo announcements to come.
Hakuho, were you nervous any? Two mattas to start this match. Clearly the Yokozuna felt the pressure of the unknown Nishikigi. This is their first bout and Nishikigi was the calm one. After a solid tachiai to finally get things going, Hakuho attempted to go into hip-pumping mode. But Nishikigi neutralized the attack by leaning into the Dai-Yokozuna. Working up another charge, Hakuho drove Nishikigi backwards but the maegashira showed some moxie, pivoting at the edge and throwing Hakuho to the dohyo while going out. The gyoji’s gunbai to Nishikigi…and I start the wasabi marinade.
しかし! The Shinpan ascend and a mono-ii review finds the bout to close to call! Torinaoshi redo! The boss’s condition looks shaky but he still has hope. This time, rather than attack, Hakuho retreats and awaits Nishikigi’s charge. Three times the young upstart tries to force Hakuho off the dohyo but on the third attempt, Hakuho grabs Nishikigi’s mawashi and throws him out. Uwatenage.