Friday has come and gone, and we have no change in the leaderboard for Hatsu. The schedulers have made sure that Saturday will have something to say about that, they are putting both 12-1 rikishi, Tokushoryu and Shodai, head to head. More about that later today. Today’s matches were mostly about continuing to sort make-koshi and kachi-koshi rikishi. The good news is it does seem that there will several 7-7 rikishi for day 15 “Darwin” matches, which are always painful to watch. On to the highlights!
Azumaryu defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho still really can’t generate any effective forward pressure with that banged up left knee. Azumaryu quickly settles in on a a grip and gives big Tsurugisho roll to the clay for the win.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tochiozan – Chiyotairyu, sumo’s thunder spirit, is on a 3 match winning streak, and maybe just might be able to find 2 more wins to finish with 8. Tochiozan’s high efficiency mode may have cost him a win today, as Chiyotairyu was able to effectively use movement and attack to overwhelm Tochiozan’s defense.
Kiribayama defeats Ishiura – Excellent Harumafuji style mini-henka today from Kiribayama. It was so well done that I had to watch it a few times just to enjoy how smoothly it flowed. To underscore the technique, Kiribayama did not so much dodge the tachiai as he dodged Ishiura’s impact, and guided his energy out of his way.
Kaisei defeats Sadanoumi – Kaisei is able to latch onto Sadanoumi at the tachiai, and once you take away Sadanoumi’s speedy footwork, he’s little more than ballast for Kaisei’s sumo.
Tokushoryu defeats Yutakayama – Readers know I am looking for big things this year from Yutakayama, but today he was Tokushoryu’s snack. Yutakayama opened strong, and was attacking when Tokushoryu pushed him aside as Yutakayama lunged forward to finish the match. Win #12 for Tokushoryu.
Chiyomaru defeats Takanosho – Takanosho failed to shut down Chiyomaru’s sumo in the opening seconds, and ended up being battered mercilessly.
Ryuden defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi had the advantage at the tachiai, but as was common in several matches today, was too far forward, too committed to pressing ahead and Ryuden shunted him to the side and down.
Ikioi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama makes a bad turn and ends up facing away from Ikioi, and off balance. A quick shove from Ikioi and somehow he is at 6-7. If he manages to survive Hatsu, it will mark a miraculous come back from a 0-4 start.
Onosho defeats Kotoeko – Its a matta festival this match, as the two cannot seem to launch correctly. Kotoeko takes a nodowa at the tachiai, and is on the run for the rest of the match. Onosho now just one more win from kachi-koshi. Somehow.
Shodai defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki goes high at the tachiai, and at this level of genki, Shodai makes him pay almost at once by getting morozashi and backing Kagayaki to the bales. Mr Fundamentals quickly realizes that he is completely out-classed and boxed in as Shodai muscles him over the tawara for win #12.
Shimanoumi defeats Tamawashi – How does Tamawashi have 10 losses when he owns the opening 10 seconds of nearly every match? Well if today is any indicator, his balance is off due to some injury. After smashing Shimanoumi around the dohyo, suddenly Shimanoumi rallies and slaps him to the clay.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi looked to be trying to set up some kind of pull down, with his right hand searching for the back of Hokutofuji’s neck. While he was fumbling around with that, his chest was wide open and Hokutofuji was in the process of forcing him out. Too late Mitakeumi realized he was not going to get his hand placed, and tried to fight back. 10 wins for Hokutofuji now, wow.
Kotoshogiku defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu attempts an arm grab, but loses balance and falls backward. Its good that he was not injured, as a head-first fall from the dohyo has caused problems already this basho.
Endo defeats Okinoumi – Endo finally gets his 8th win. The judges gave him a winning move of shitatehineri, but to my eye it looks more like Okinoumi just fell down. Either way, it’s a kachi-koshi for Endo, and the bidding for san’yaku slots is open. I expect lksumo is going to be puzzling this one out for some time.
Daieisho defeats Shohozan – After Daieisho tried a couple of attempts at a slap down, he focuses center-mass and starts to really move Shohozan back. Shohozan counters by going chest to chest with a left hand inside, and the two lock up and lean in for an extended period. Eventually Daieisho advances and yorikiris Shohozan out, but it was quite the long match.
Enho defeats Abi – Enho’s leg pick against Abi’s injured knee causes a leap of surprise or pain. Following that jump, Abi is easy meat and takes his 8th loss to likely drop out of San’yaku for March. Enho kachi-koshi, and who knows where he is headed.
Asanoyama defeats Takarafuji – I dare say these two really enjoyed this one. Asanoyama because he had a solid yotsu battle with someone who is good at it, and Takarafuji because he was able to get somewhere with his defend and extend sumo. Sadly Takarafuji is also now make-koshi, in spite of fighting quite well for Hatsu. Asanoyama picks up his 8th win and will stay Sekiwake 1 East for March. But I am going to guess any talk of an Ozeki bid is now on hold pending better results.
Goeido defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin is probably having knee problems again, as he immediately tries to pull, twice, from the tachiai. With no forward pressure to combat Goeido’s advance, the soon to be Ozeki relic makes short work of the relic of Tochinoshin.
Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Takayasu delivers a forearm smash to Takakeisho’s face at the tachiai, and that really set the tone for the match. Takayasu throws the kitchen sink at the lone surviving Ozeki: pull down, face slap, nodowa but Takakiesho remains upright, but on defense. Takakeisho finally gets enough distance from Takayasu to fire up the trusting machine, and he fights back with energy. Takakeisho ends up not only pushing Takayasu out, but into the 2nd row of zabuton. Takakeisho continues to show surprising skill expansion and versatility, and picks up his 11th win. His reward, a split upper lip and a mountain of kensho.