Act Two opens in dramatic fashion. There are great bouts today but tears will be shed and hopes dashed before the day is out. Let’s just get started.
Yutakayama and Daishomaru get the makuuchi bouts rolling for us. Two oshi wrestlers start things off…by quickly getting a grip? It looked like Yutakayama wanted to grapple since Daishomaru is much worse on the belt, losing almost 4x more often to yorikiri than he wins while Yutakayama is about 50-50 in those belt battles. Daishomaru was having none of it, batted Yutakayama’s arms away and circled in full retreat. This gave Yutakayama a chance for a hatakikomi pull down attempt but Daishomaru plowed through. Yutakayama decided enough is enough, held his ground, and pushed forward, forcing Daishomaru out. Wouldn’t you guess it? Oshidashi. Yutakayama improves to 4-2, Daishomaru still winless.
Ishiura channels Enho for his bout against Chiyoshoma. Ishiura has been regrouping nicely in Juryo, sitting on a 4-1 record to start the day. Rather than having a double henka, both wrestlers get straight to business with Ishiura going low. Chiyoshoma first establishes a two-handed belt grip but then uses his left to grab under Ishiura’s arm, initiating a throw attempt. Ishiura counters by driving into Chiyoshoma as they spin around. It looked for a second like Ishiura reached out to grab his opponent’s left knee which causes Chiyoshoma to stumble. Thus off balance, Ishiura continues to circle into Chiyoshoma whose feet no longer have traction in the clay, falling to shitatehineri. Ishiura improves to 5-1 and takes home some spending money while Chiyoshoma is 3-3.
Yago was just too big for Kotoeko, who’s still trying to find his way in the top division. Nominally, both men are relatively balanced with the belt or in pusher/thruster mode but Yago established a strong belt grip early and forced the much smaller man out. Yago remains in the hunt group at 5-1, looking for a prize and even further advancement, while Kotoeko is even at 3-3.
Chiyonokuni had a plan for Kotoyuki. 1) Stand your ground at the tachiai, 2) Unleash tsuppari to counter The Penguin, 3) Side-step. The critical piece is when to deploy the side step, which he did perfectly as the over-committed Kotoyuki flew off the dohyo and landed in amongst the crowd. Kotoyuki’s lost to hatakikomi nearly 60 times now, so you’d think he’d try to work out a solution. Chiyonokuni’s in the hunt at 5-1, while Kotoyuki’s 3-3.
Daiamami came in to this bout with Meisei wanting to grapple. Meisei was having none of it, however, and fought to keep Daiamami’s mitts off his belt while trying to establish his own belt grip. The fatal mistake for Daiamami appears to be when he gave up the belt and tried to go for a hatakikomi attempt. Meisei used the momentum shift to blast Daiamami into the crowd. Meisei’s 4-2 and may be hitting his stride and establishing himself as a makuuchi regular, while Daiamami’s 2-4 with a precarious hold on his position.
Kagayaki started out with his usual head-down pushing attack but Takarafuji got an early left-handed grip of his gold mawashi. A belt battle seems to favor the trapezius muscles of Takarafuji, who circled and executed an over-arm throw before both men tumbled out in a heap. Uwatenage. Takarafuji is 3-3 while Kagayaki’s 1-5.
Ikioi showed Kagayaki how to make the Pamplona bull thing work. Use it against a belt guy and drive with the shoulder. Ikioi is a balanced wrestler while Endo is much more comfortable with a grapple than slap fest. Today, Ikioi followed Kagayaki’s lead – stitches be damned – and led with the ole noggin…though that shoulder was there not just for backup but as the real driving force. Endo had no time to regroup as he found himself on his butt, at the base of the dohyo. Both are 3-3.
Sadanoumi got the jump on Kaisei. The much quicker tachiai helped establish a firm, two-handed belt grip put Kaisei on the retreat. However, he appeared to be hopping, favoring that left leg as if he couldn’t really put much weight on the right. Sadanoumi let him pogo himself out. Kaisei falls off the lead and into the hunt group at 5-1. Sadanoumi is 3-3. Kaisei appeared to walk back as if he was unhindered so hopefully the pogo-ing was more of a balance thing than a “my knee hurts” thing.
The next bout gave us a real clash of styles as a solid belt man Asanoyama takes on the long arms of Abi. Abi seemed to be the driving force here, keeping Asanoyama off his belt from the tachiai. He went into full retreat looking for a hatakikomi slapdown win but Asanoyama kept his balance while moving forward. Oshidashi win goes to Asanoyama who picks up his first of the tournament while Abi falls to 3-3.
If Abi wants to be a hatakikomi master, he needs to watch Aoiyama. The Bulgarian took on solid oshi battler, Daieisho. That nodowa on the tachiai nearly snapped Daieisho in two but Daieisho weathered the storm and evaded to the left. The damage was done, though, as Aoiyama had the clear initiative. Effective tsuppari let him try one hatakikomi pull which failed but he cycled around with more slaps to Daieisho’s face. This time, as Daieisho’s resistance brought his momentum forward, Aoiyama pulled and Daieisho went down. Hatakikomi. Personally, I think the difference is Aoiyama’s tsuppari works his opponent back to the opposite edge, giving him adequate space for the pull. Abi, on the other hand, seems to fly off the dohyo a lot. Aoiyama stays in the hunt at 5-1 while Daieisho falls to 2-4
Yoshikaze picked up his first win today against Ryuden. Ryuden had tried to get a good early tachiai but was thrown off by the gyoji who called him for two false starts. Yoshikaze followed through on the third tachiai putting his head right into Ryuden’s chin, driving him back and out. This means Daishomaru is left as the last makuuchi wrestler still in the tournament with 0 wins. Ryuden is 2-4.
Kotoshogiku drove Chiyotairyu straight back like a blocking sled and used that hip action to push Elvis out. Kotoshogiku is 4-2 while Chiyotairyu is 2-4. Onosho made quick work of Okinoumi, who prefers a belt battle, by staying low and fighting this bout his way, as a pushing-thrusting match. Onosho stays in the lead, 6-0, while Okinoumi falls to 3-3.
Now, for the bad news. Mitakeumi injured his left knee or ankle against Myogiryu. He could not make it back up to the dohyo and was carted out and taken to the hospital. It’s an innocuous injury. I thought it may have come when he tried to brace his weight against the tawara but now I think he rolled his ankle when he stepped off the dohyo. Both men prefer an oshi bout, so they came out guns blazing. Mitakeumi pulled but ran out of real estate and Myogiryu kept his balance, forcing Mitakeumi out. If it’s a sprain, we may see Mitakeumi again before the end of the tournament. Mitakeumi falls to 5-1 and Myogiryu climbs to 2-4. A bitter, disappointing day for Mitakeumi fans.
Tochiozan neutralized the Takakeisho thrusting from the word, “Go,” quickly establishing a grip of Takakeisho’s grey mawashi. Takakeisho’s fingers struggled to find purchase on Tochiozan’s belt so he had to satisfy himself with a hold of the Kochi native’s arm. It would have been a rather spectacular ipponzeoi but Takakeisho lacked the strength and leverage to pull Tochiozan over his back. The position gave Tochiozan a decisive advantage with Takakeisho’s back to him, so he pushed through, driving Takakeisho forward over the edge. Takakeisho falls out of the hunt group to 4-2 while Tochiozan improves to 2-4.
Tamawashi’s not pulling in enough kensho for Ichinojo bother with beast mode, instead reverting to boulder mode on the tachiai. Tamawashi blasts the boulder off with a few strong shoulder thrusts. Both men are 4-2.
Goeido pissed of Shohozan with his slow-roll tachiai. Shohozan wasn’t having any of it, so he blasted off in his face like, “Let’s go already!” Goeido commits a bit quicker this time and bulls forward like a battleship under full steam. Shohozan slips to the side a beat early as Goeido had room to plot a course correction. Goeido adjusts, homes in on Shohozan, and picks up the yorikiri win. Both are 2-4.
With Kakuryu kyujo, and now Mitakeumi likely following him to the couch, Hokutofuji may now pick up a couple of fusen wins, today’s moves him to 4-2. Nishikigi hoped to regroup after yesterday’s dramatic but disappointing loss to The Boss. Takayasu’s a tough one to regroup against, though. And today, Takayasu did not want Nishikigi anywhere near his belt. With Nishikigi’s right arm containing the Ozeki’s left, Nishikigi’s fingers sought out a left-hand grip of the mawashi but Takayasu wasn’t having any of it. With Takayasu’s attention diverted, Nishikigi thought it would be a good time to try a pull but Takayasu read it and drove through the maegashira, ushering him out for the yorikiri win. Takayasu improves to 3-3 while Nishikigi slips out of the hunt to 4-2.
Hakuho closed things out today with Shodai at the musubi-no-ichiban. At the tachiai, both men seek out and quickly get one-handed belt grips. When things settle in the middle of the ring, Shodai tries to adjust his grip but Hakuho uses that time to strike, grabs the other side of Shodai’s mawashi and walks him back and out. Yorikiri. Hakuho remains tied for the lead with Onosho while Shodai slips to 2-4.