I will come out and say it – Tochinoshin is in trouble. There were some reports that he was injured prior to the bashso, and he has started Nagoya 0-3. He is struggling with, and losing to his “warm up” opponents. He has just battled back from Ozekiwake (a feat that Takakeisho will have before him at Aki), and is already looking at another kadoban. We love watching Tochinoshin engage the “skycrane” and lift his opponents, but it seems many of the top-division rikishi have worked hard to ensure he never gets the grip needed to do it.
I would further state that Ryuden now has a pair of Ozeki scalps, and looks absolutely spot-on in his sumo. He has found a way to lock his opponents down into a difficult, half-twisted posture and forces them to either break out somehow, or stand there and take it. Both outcomes work to his advantage. At 29, he is not a “young” rikishi, but he is delivering some fantastic sumo.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Kaisei – Terutsuyoshi goes immediately for Kaisei’s bandaged right arm, and completely disrupts any attempt at offensive sumo. Yeah, Terutsuyoshi got the white star, but OUCH. Hopefully Kaisei is done being swarmed by pixies for a while, he was completely out maneuvered both days.
Enho defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki was certainly looking to disrupt Enho’s timing, a pair of matta, and a few other things leading up to the tachiai. But it was all for naught as Enho owned the bulk of this match, save for the moment when Kotoyuki rallied and pushed Enho into his Ura-style shock absorbing squat. To add insult to injury, Kotoyuki had no opportunity to end up in the crowd.
Yago defeats Toyonoshima – Its clear that both men are off their sumo in a significant way. Yago gets his first win, as Toyonoshima decided to go chest to chest but gave Yago his favorite grip.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru likes to use his big body moving strongly forward as his primary weapon. Kagayaki, to his credit, was able to absorb Chiyomaru’s opening attacks, giving little ground. The match was largely stalemated until Chiyomaru attempted a pull against Kagayaki’s neck. The moment that Chiyomaru released forward pressure, Kagayaki attacked and won the match.
Sadanoumi defeats Tochiozan – Sadanoumi got both hands inside on Tochizan’s mawashi (morozashi) at the tachiai, and there was not much Tochiozan could do.
Takagenji defeats Kotoeko – Takagenji really looks solid right now. His sumo is strong, efficient and focused. He got inside Kotoeko after Kotoeko’s initial double arm thrust to Takageni’s neck, and proceeded to march Kotoeko out.
Nishikigi defeats Daishoho – This match may appear to be two large men standing around, holding each other in some kind of battle-cuddle (which is it), but its also a re-emergence of Nishikigi’s “good” form. Daishoho got the better of the tachiai, but quickly found Nishikigi more than up to the task of stopping any offense. The key move came about 30 seconds in when Nishikigi shifted hiss grip, getting his right hand inside, and with it control of the match.
Okinoumi defeats Onosho – Onosho succeeds in once again getting too much of his weight in front his toes, and finds Okinoumi ready to slap him down with a quick push to the back of the neck. This is Onosho’s fatal flaw, and he needs to get it fixed before his sumo can really shine. Also, he needs to bring back the red mawashi.
Tomokaze defeats Shohozan – Tomokaze won an oshi battle against Shohozan (which is not easy), and looked good doing it. At one point Tomokaze spins up a train of thrusts against Shohozan’s shoulders, pushing “Big Guns” back. I lament the expected intai of Yoshikaze, but this new guy from Oguruma seems quite good.
Shimanoumi defeats Chiyotairyu – This came down to Shimanoumi keeping his balance in the face of Chiyotairyu’s massive tachiai. Shimanoumi expertly timed a pivot and sent Chiyotairyu to the clay.
Myogiryu defeats Takarafuji – Both rikishi made a good show of it, but it was all Myogiryu, who got inside at the tachiai, and never gave up the advantage.
Ichinojo defeats Meisei – Ichinojo took Meisei to his chest, and in spite of Meisei having a morozashi (double inside) grip, there was exactly zero that Meisei could do to stop the rampaging landslide that was Ichinojo. When Ichinojo is healthy, he’s an absolute monster.
Kotoshogiku defeats Daieisho – I do love a genki Kotoshogiku! Daieisho was able to slow him down only for a moment, before the Kyushu Bulldozer lowered the blade and pushed Daieisho out and away.
Abi defeats Shodai – Abi opened strong and finished quickly, before Shodai could try any random nonsense, which he almost did at the tawara.
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Mitakeumi continues to dominate Tamawashi, and it was quite a one-sided affair today.
Takayasu defeats Endo (Twice) – For the second day in a row, Takayasu’s match endures a torinaoshi. His day 2 match, it was necessary, I am not so sure about today. Endo decided he wanted to also test Takayasu’s ability to stand around in a sumo stance for long periods of time. Big mistake as we have it on good authority that Takayasu sometimes sleeps in that position while carrying on a days long battle with a teppo pole. News flash, sometimes the pole gives up first. To me it was clear that Endo was the loser of match one, but being Endo, the monoii went in is favor. No problem, Takayasu beat him again.
Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tried a hit and shift / slap down combo, and Goeido made him pay. When Goeido launches the all out speed tachiai, there is not much anyone can do to recover.
Ryuden defeats Tochinoshin – As mentioned in the introduction, Ryuden tends to land his left hand about mid-way around his opponents mawashi, and use that grip to turn them. This results in Ryuden’s opponents not being able to square either their hips or shoulders, and puts Ryuden in command. Tochinoshin got this treatment today, and his massive strength was taken away from him. I have seen Hakuho use this same technique, and it is quite potent.
Hakuho defeats Hokutofuji – Wow! What an effort by Hokutofuji. I can confidently say that Hokutofuji owned the first 15 seconds of this match, and had Hakuho reacting rather than attacking. Hakuho eventually got a very odd double hand grip on Hokutofuji’s mawashi knot, and dropped him to the clay, with a bit of a tea-bagging at the end. Hokutofuji’s time will come. Maybe soon.
Kakuryu defeats Asanoyama – Some really glorious Kakuryu sumo today. Even the smallest mistake can beat you with Kakuryu as your opponent. As Asanoyama presses forward to try to land his right hand on the Yokozuna’s mawashi, he raises up. That was all the opening that Kakuryu needed to transition into an under shoulder swing down (katasukashi). Great sumo from the Yokozuna today.