We’ve had some nerves and sloppy sumo to start the tournament but we’ve also had some great sumo as four yusho winners lead the pack coming into Day 5. By now at the end of Act One, that rust should be brushed away. Asanoyama has proven to be stainless steel and Hakuho must have been bathing in WD-40 since March because he’s dominant and he’s winning without the tricks, dame-oshi or dirty play that had earned him a bit of derision over the past year. These two are at the top of the heap and the top of their game. Will they close out the first third of the tournament still in the lead? This day is one to stay until the end, that’s for sure.
Kotoeko (4-1) defeated Tobizaru: The flying monkey visits from Juryo to take on Kotoeko. A bit too nervous and outmatched by Kotoeko, who’s on a hot streak. Kotoeko got under his armpits and looked to drive him back and out. Tobizaru wriggled free from Kotoeko’s grip but Kotoeko was able to use his right arm to execute a throw. Sukuinage.
Nishikigi (2-3) defeated Chiyomaru (0-5): Winless Chiyomaru got the advantage on the initial charge, thrusting Nishikigi back to the edge. The tawara gave Nishikigi the resistance he needed and Chiyomaru tried a pull but Nishikigi used the change in direction to charge forward and force Chiyomaru out. Oshidashi.
Wakatakakage (2-3) defeated Kotoyuki (1-4): Wakatakakage defeated Kotoyuki at his own game. A strong charge at the outset earned the youngster superior position in the center of the dohyo. He kept up the pressure on Kotoyuki who countered with his own thrusts but Kotoyuki was never able to get enough power in those thrusts to back Wakatakakage out. Instead, Wakatakakage wore out the penguin and pushed him out. Oshidashi.
Takayasu (3-2) defeated Terunofuji (4-1): Yesterday, Takayasu faced Kotoshogiku. Today, the former Ozeki got another former Ozeki in Terunofuji and again came out victorious. At the charge, Terunofuji tried reaching in for that belt but Takayasu fought against it and shoved Terunofuji away. Takayasu re-engaged, securing both hands on Terunofuji’s belt. While Terunofuji tried to get purchase with his left hand, Takayasu began backing him up until he was fully stood against the tawara. Terunofuji recognized that he was done and stepped out. Yorikiri.
Kotoshoho (5-0) defeated Shohozan (0-5): Shohozan baited Kotoshoho into a false start. Shohozan charged fiercely at the tachiai and added a slap for good measure. Kotoshoho was unphased, however. He pivoted and used Shohozan’s hard charging ways against him with a well-executed throw. Kotenage.
Tochinoshin (3-2) defeated Sadanoumi (2-3): Tochinoshin drove forward into Sadanoumi but Sadanoumi stayed composed, got a solid grip and started forcing the Georgian Giant back. Tochinoshin pivoted and brought the action to the edge of the ring where he grabbed Sadanoumi by the butt cheek and forced him over the edge. Tsukiotoshi.
Kotoshogiku (4-1) defeated Shimanoumi (1-4): A strong showing from Kotoshogiku today. A quick blast driving Shimanoumi back and wrapping him up. He attempted a throw which Shimanoumi resisted but some strong gabburi action got Shimanoumi stumbling backwards and out. Yoritaoshi.
Myogiryu (5-0) defeated Kotonowaka (3-2): Myogiryu charged forward, always the aggressor. He kept Kotonowaka at arms length, never allowing access to his mawashi and driving action. Kotonowaka briefly slipped to the side and had a chance but Myogiryu recovered at the edge, turned back around, and drove Kotonowaka back and out. Oshidashi.
Ikioi (2-3) defeated Kaisei (2-3): A slim Ikioi drove forward into Kaisei with both arms under his armpits. Kaisei resisted with his own grip but Ikioi charged again. At the edge it seemed Kaisei’s leg gave but the official call was an underarm throw but I couldn’t see what that right arm was doing. Anyone have the opposite view? Shitatenage.
Tamawashi (4-1) defeated Ishiura (1-4): Ishiura’s predictable henka attempt put him halfway toward the edge of the dohyo and Tamawashi was more than happy to give him a single shove out. Ishiura needs a new schtick. There are plenty of other successful pixies who aren’t afraid to bring the action to their opponent. Oshidashi.
Chiyotairyu (3-2) defeated Terutsuyoshi (2-3): What did I say about successful pixies? Chiyotairyu gave a beautiful demonstration of how the Non-henka is supposed to work. One hand securing the belt, the other hand on the top of aite’s head. A strong pull with that right hand, in this case, and Terutsuyoshi was whipped around and thrown down. Uwatenage.
Hokutofuji (4-1) defeated Enho (2-3): Hokutofuji blasted Enho back at the tachiai. Enho seemed puzzled, not knowing how to attack. So Hokutofuji used that left oven mitt to decide for him. “Go back now.” He shoved Enho back to the tawara and down. Oshitaoshi.
Abi (3-2) defeated Tokushoryu (2-3): Classic Abi here. Right hand under the chin of Tokushoryu, forcing his head up and back. This gave Abi the clear advantage and he followed up with a convincing win, shoving Tokushoryu out quickly. Oshidashi.
Aoiyama (2-3) defeated Ryuden (1-4): Aoiyama with the advantage of a stronger tachiai, pushed Ryuden back to the straw bales. Ryuden tried his own shoves putting all of his might and weight into Aoiyama but getting no backward movement until…Aoiyama pulls beautifully and Ryuden rolls across the clay. Someone was asking about pulls after Takakeisho’s loss the other day. The timing is so crucial with a pull and Aoiyama timed it very well today. Hikiotoshi.
Takanosho (2-3) defeated Kagayaki (2-3): Kagayaki had the better force in the initial charge, moving forward strongly. Takanosho’s sidestep combined with Kagayaki’s slow recovery time allowed Takanosho to shift right and help Kagayaki out. Oshidashi.
Daieisho (3-2) defeated Yutakayama (0-5): This was an entertaining slapfest. Daieisho with the slight advantage but both wrestlers landed several haymakers. Daieisho’s were more effective, keeping Yutakayama on the ropes with slaps to the chin and the throat. Yutakayama pitched forward to counter and Daieisho landed a perfect left on Yutakayama’s shoulder, sending him tumbling across the dohyo. Tsukiotoshi.
Mitakeumi (5-0) defeated Endo (1-4): A great tachiai from both men, a nice blast. Endo tried to shove Mitakeumi back…it almost looked like he was going to try an oshi battle but got confused. While he tried to sort things out, Mitakeumi moved forward through the golden boy. Another Oshidashi. Oshidashi Day here in Tokyo.
Shodai (4-1) defeated Okinoumi (3-2): The best tachiai of the day? A Shodai bout? Na… Shodai slipped that left arm under Okinoumi’s armpit and whatever Okinoumi was trying to do was utterly irrelevant. Shodai continued turning while Okinoumi hopped along, trying to stay up but eventually hopping over the bales. Okinoumi didn’t meet clay but it was a throw. Sukuinage.
Asanoyama (5-0) defeated Kiribayama (1-4): Kiribayama slid to the side and channeled Harumafuji with his continued pressure. He wanted the spin of death to end things quickly but Asanoyama persevered. Twisting and turning, Kiribayama kept up a vigorous attack. Asanoyama was always able to maintain his balance and his composure. He countered by bringing the action back to the center and wearing Kiribayama down. Eventually, Asanoyama struck forcing Kiribayama out. The best sumo from Kiribayama this week. Sadly, not enough against the ozeki. The effort from both men combine for the bout of the day, enthusiastically appreciated by the crowd. Yorikiri.
Takakeisho (4-1) defeated Takarafuji (2-3): Another strong tachiai as skin-on-skin echoes through the Kokugikan. Takakeisho kept up the thrusts as Takarafuji was on the defensive, shifting about. Takakeisho worked Takarafuji back and several times tried the pull down. It wasn’t until the fourth attempt that his right hand found the top of Takarafuji’s head and pulled him down. Hatakikomi.
Hakuho (5-0) defeated Onosho (0-5): Onosho jumped the gun and the two reset. Hakuho got under there with both hands on the belt immediately. As he charged back Onosho got some resistance at the edge. Hakuho wasn’t having any of it and used that belt grip to throw Onosho forward to his doom. Uwatedashinage.
To follow on with Tim’s kimarite of the day, I’d have to go with that forceful yorikiri from Asanoyama. I know, yorikiri is the most common and therefore the dullest choice of kimarite of the day in the 1000-year history of sumo…but here we are. I liked it. He held on in a great battle and won. Boring technique? Not at all. Oshidashi’s the boring one.