Nothing is slowing down the rikishi at the front of the yusho race today, as the top 5 all win their matches and only Tochiozan drops out of the hunt group 2 behind the yusho pace. But my favorite match of the day was Goeido’s win over Takayasu. Even though I am a Takayasu fan, he’s more or less doomed now, and it was good to see Goeido run a battle plan that has him put all of his effort into a single opening gambit, then make it pay off. I hold no illusions that he will be able to “win out” and defend his Ozeki rank, but it was good to see this rivalry play out once more.
Kiribayama defeats Azumaryu – Straightforward mawashi battle. Kiribayama gets one win closer to kachi-koshi and a chance to stay in the top division.
Shimanoumi defeats Kotoshogiku – Shimanoumi gets inside at the tachiai, and Kotoshogiku struggles to figure out what to do. The answer is really nothing. Shimanoumi lets him struggle for a bit, then puts him away yorikiri style.
Kagayaki defeats Tochiozan – This match was not quite as intense a battle as I thought it could have been. Tochiozan, while showing in the past 10 matches to be a master of body mechanics, can’t really do much to blunt the strength Kagayaki brought to the dohyo today.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – One can hope that Chiyotairyu’s bandaged left arm, which took the strain of Ryuden’s kotenage, is doing a bit better. Chiyotairyu manages to generate quite a bit of thrusting pressure against Kotoeko before slapping him down for a much needed win.
Ishiura defeats Ikioi – After a weak start, Ishiura seems to have found his sumo. He needs to win 3 out of the last 4 to reach kachi-koshi, and today he dispatched Ikioi by constantly hitting and shifting around the injured vet. This was effective in getting Ikioi’s guard loosened up enough for a firm push center mass for the win.
Chiyomaru defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyomaru stood Sadanoumi up and slapped him down. Against Sadanoumi, speed is crucial, and Chiyomaru made sure there was no room for Sadanoumi to set up any offense.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Takanosho – Terutsuyoshi uses a submarine tachiai to get low against Takanosho, and a well placed ankle kick to break Takanosho’s balance to set up the hatakikomi. Terutsuyoshi now kachi-koshi.
Ryuden defeats Tsurugisho – Ryuden did get the memo, and Tsurugisho got the “handle with care” treatment as Ryuden put him over the bales. Seriously, Tsurugisho – you are make-koshi now. Call it a basho and try to get that knee healthy.
Tokushoryu defeats Aoiyama – Tokushoryu maintains his share of the lead with his win over Big Dan Aoiyama. They start with thrusts, but neither can move the other back, so it’s chest to chest with Big Dan going a left hand outside. He seems to have the upper hand now, and advances against Tokushoryu who pivots into a throw at the bales. Great sumo from Tokushoryu as he is now 10-1 from the bottom of the banzuke.
Onosho defeats Kaisei – Onosho is no small man, but he’s noticeably shorter than Kaisei as they fight. Onosho increases Kaisei’s stance by jamming his right hand under his chin, and lifting with everything he can muster. Kaisei breaks the nodowa, but Onosho is back again and again, each time Kaisei is more disrupted and in slightly worse position until he is ripe for a slap down on the shoulder. I will be amazed if Onosho can battle back to a kachi-koshi from his terrible first 4 days.
Yutakayama defeats Shohozan – Shohozan delivers the expected intensity and violence, but Yutakayama matches him blow for blow. As they blast away at each other, its Yutakayama greater body mass which forces Shohozan to give ground and eventually fall. Welcome back Yutakayama, stay healthy this year, we need you in the joi-jin.
Okinoumi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin looks like he is doing real sumo now, and I am very happy. He gets his left hand outside grip and tries to drop his hips. But Okinoumi is half a second ahead of him and is too low to move. Tochinoshin attempts a pull down, and when he releases forward pressure Okinoumi charges ahead for the win. Tochinoshin still has the sumo skill, but that knee keeps him from putting up much of a fight.
Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi completely dominated this match, putting Hokutofuji in reaction mode and getting him moving backward almost at once. As Tamawashi lunges ahead to finish him, Hokutofuji employs a messy looking rescue move at the bales to thrust Tamawashi out. Tamawashi is now make-koshi while Hokutofuji is kachi-koshi.
Endo defeats Myogiryu – A quick pull down at the tachiai gives Endo his first win in 4 matches. Myogiryu picks up his 8th loss and will move down the banzuke for March.
Shodai defeats Daieisho – Points to Daieisho for giving it a full measure, but right now Shodai is overcoming every obstacle to a yusho. What amazed me is that Shodai spent most of the match almost completely upright, yet Daieisho could not find a way to bring him down. But Shodai kept landing a few thrusts, and emnploying relentless forward motion. Daieisho now make-koshi.
Mitakeumi defeats Abi – Abi wins the battle of the upper body, but Mitakeumi’s lower body saves the day. In sumo, the lower body can keep you in the fight even if your face and chest area taking a beating. Hokutofuji does this with great effect, and today Mitakeumi did it against Abi’s relentless thrusting attack.
Enho defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama, who as considered a contender for the Emperor’s Cup at one point, has hit a soft spot and is struggling. This is the first time he has faced Enho’s frantic grab and pull sumo attack, and he did not do well on defense.
Goeido defeats Takayasu – The last remaining Heisei Ozeki relic fought back Takayasu for a much needed win. Goeido is on the cusp of a rank busting make-koshi, but today he made it work. Goeido got a right hand inside at the tachiai (against Takayasu’s injured left arm) and gambled it all on his attack plan. Pure Goeido style sumo today, and I was glad to see it.
Takakeisho defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s defend and extend approach was shattered by the first volley from Takakeisho’s thrusting canon. He was out in 4 steps, and Takakeisho remains 1 behind Shodai and Tokushoryu.