Day three brings sumo fans upsets, surprises galore. Surprising sumo from a number of rikishi, and all in all a very satisfying day in Osaka. Thus far, some rikishi who we thought were going to be injury impaired have proven themselves fit to fight, and some beloved heroes in need of a win find themselves faltering out of the blocks. On to the matches!
Daishoho defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki remains a puzzle. When he’s on his unique body shape and sumo approach make him very effective, but when he’s “off”, its like watching a penguin try to drive a stick shift. Kotoyuki tries a pull and Daishoho is ready, and uses the change in direction to run out of the ring.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma comes out strong with a nodowa, but Kotoeko uses Chiyoshoma’s locked arm as a lever to swing him across the bales. Very acrobatic, unusual and quite satisfying at the same time. Chiyoshoma ends the match with his face in some salaryman’s lap. The salaryman looks satisfied.
Ishiura defeats Yutakayama – Ishiura resists the temptation to execute a full henka, then opens a slap-fest with Yutakayama. Yutakayama is usually able to hold is own, but loses traction and drops unceremoniously to the clay. The same salaryman looks on, wondering if Ishiura will end up in his lap soon.
Tomokaze defeats Toyonoshima – When this much mass collides at speed, new subatomic particles come into existence and vanish in a fraction of a second. Toyonoshima came in lower and inside, and had the advantage at the tachiai, and Tomokaze took a big chance by pulling. Toyonoshima was unable to capitalize on his opponents weight shift, and ended up on the clay. Several of the subatomic particles look satisfied.
Yoshikaze defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi attempts to duck to the side at the tachiai, but Yoshikaze is expecting it, and pivots expertly. At this point, Terutsuyoshi does not have his feet planted, and his balance is on his heels. Yoshikaze wastes no time in moving forward and driving Terutsuyoshi back, with a knee pick at the end. The match ends with Yoshikaze riding Terutsuyoshi like a pony. Yoshikaze looks satisfied.
Meisei defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki came out strong at the tachiai, but Meisei’s smaller size and lower center of gravity gave him the inside position. Kagayaki kept the pressure forward, putting Meisei’s heels on the tawara, where he rallied, getting Kagayaki off balance and then stepping to the side. Great recovery from Meisie. Kagayaki still struggling to deliver effective sumo.
Shohozan defeats Yago – In the interview room, many rikishi say they try to focus on doing “my brand of sumo”. Shohozan’s brand of sumo is a lot like a street brawl, and today that’s what he was able to execute against a somewhat disoriented Yago. Push-push-slap. Slap-slap-push. Yago could not find a way to set up either offense or defense, and after a short time he got frustrated being batted around by “Big Guns” Shohozan, and lunged to attack. Shohozan welcomed this mistake, and used it to show Yago the exit. Somewhere in Fukuoka, Shohozan’s mother (Mama-zan?) was certainly satisfied.
Ryuden defeats Ikioi – Fantastic strength match between these two die-hard rikishi. Ikioi seems progressively more injured each basho, yet here he is, fighting like mad against a younger, less hurt version of himself. If this is not a parable for every person who feels the effects of aging and a hard-fought life, I don’t know what is. But much like life, the younger version wins, and the older guy is left puffing and wondering where the aspirin and the sauna is.
Kotoshogiku defeats Asanoyama – Yet again, we see a very genki Kotoshogiku pounding the tar out of a young, up-and-coming rikishi. Again we see the low tachiai, and that left hand swings in at once and latches the front of Asanoyama’s mawashi. Now if Asanoyama were paying attention, he would just throw himself out backward at this point, and make this one for the record books. But instead, he wants a first hand look at the Kyushu Bulldozer, as Kotoshogiku gets in gear and uses Asanoyama to clear 30 yards of overburden from the dohyo paydirt.
Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – Takarafuji finally gets a win. Both of these guys are racking up an appalling number of black stars. Both of them are competent rikishi, and for some reason they are not able to really succeed right now in the top division. The situation is specifically ugly for the once dominant Isegahama heya, as they can’t seem to buy a win these days.
Okinoumi defeats Abi – Once again we see that Abi-zumo is not carrying the day anymore. Today it’s Okinoumi who disrupts his long-arm attack with great effect. Once the Abi-zumo session broke down, the whole match went very adhoc, and thus we got an unusual “sakatottari” kimarite. I think that Abi is fine to use it as his primary weapon, but when it falls apart, it’s clear he has nothing to transition to as a secondary. Thus, as soon as someone breaks it up, he’s done for. This is in contrast to someone like Kakuryu or Hakuho *(yes, they are Yokozuna…), who always transition to their next gambit. Work it out Abi, you are still on our list of “could be a big deal soon!”.
Aoiyama defeats Onosho – As forecast, Onosho suffered when he could not get inside of Aoiyama’s “bludgeon zone” to apply any offensive force. Frankly, Onosho had a very rough ride, and could not find his balance thanks to Aoiyama’s focus on landing the first blow.
Ichinojo defeats Tochiozan – At least for now, the “good” version of Ichinojo is in attendance in Osaka. Before he grabbed an arm, and pulled Tochiozan down, he supplied a pair of forceful blows to Tochiozan’s face. I am sure he’s still feeling those. Was that some kind of henka to start the match? It’s tough to tell because… well how can you have that much mass shift to the side and.. miss?
Chiyotairyu defeats Shodai – All of Chiyotairyu’s power gets used in the first few seconds of any match. Today it was too much for Shodai to absorb, which resulted in Shodai being high, with his balance on his heels, and ripe for a hearty push out. Chiyotairyu supplied.
Myogiryu defeats Tamawashi – Myogiryu surprises the Hatsu yusho winner by being low, fast and inside at the tachiai. Tamawashi pushes with everything he has, and Myogiryu steps aside, causing Tamawashi to lose any sort of footing. From there Myogiryu gives the Sekiwake a bit of a flying lesson. Tamawashi overcommits, and pays the price.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – I have huge respect for Mitakeumi, he is fighting hurt, he saw his bid to become Ozeki disintegrate, and he still comes out and delivers great sumo. Today he showed us that he has figured out how to turn off Takakeisho’s “wave action” machine. Robbed of his primary offense, Takakeisho is a bit of a dumpling with limited sumo. I think both of these tadpoles are headed higher in the next year or two, but Mitakeumi has already diversified his sumo, I am eager to see Takakeisho do the same.
Goeido defeats Nishikigi – For sumo fans who have only seen Goeido fight when he’s hurt (henkas, cheap moves, crummy wins), this is what REAL Goeido sumo looks like. No time to react, no time to try your own sumo. You are going on a one way trip – out or down. Nishikigi did not have a chance, as Goeido is (I think) using at least two different attack gambits at the same time. Damn! And oh yes, the home-town crowd is most certainly satisfied.
Daieisho defeats Takayasu – Does it need to be said? That ridiculous and dangerous shoulder blast took Takayasu out of the fight because Daieisho anticipated it, and knew how to use it to his advantage. Takayasu has become far too predictable, and it’s causing him to lose matches like this one, because his opponents know what to expect, and at times can work out how to counter it. High marks to Daieisho, who kept his balance forward, kept on his feet and kept low. In the moment after Takayasu delivers his shoulder blast, he is always high and off balance. With perfect timing, Daieisho went to the Ozeki’s chest with his own hips low, and drove forward with everything. It worked.
Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – In spite of Hokutofuji’s somewhat disorganized state, he gave Tochinoshin no opportunity to launch into “power sumo” mode, which is really his only good strategy. Hokutofuji succeeded in staying low, and keeping Tochinoshin away from his mawashi. Tochinoshin drops to 1-2, and his fans are right to be concerned.
Kakuryu defeats Endo – Classic Kakuryu reactive sumo, though he nearly lost the handle on the match when Endo pushed him off balance in the opening moments, but could not finish the Yokozuna. Endo was all over the place, with poor foot placement, and Kakuryu never let him mount an effective attack again. It was a close one for the Yokozuna, but he did manage to win.
Hakuho defeats Kaisei – I admit it’s fun to watch Hakuho try to figure out what to do with that much body mass. When Hakuho goes for the maemitsu grip, It looks for a moment as if the Yokozuna means to pull Kaisei’s intestines out through his navel. Thankfully for all, the Brazilian’s digestive tract remains in place, and Hakuho wins by yoritaoshi instead.