Not much commentary from me to start off. The first half will be a quick read but I’ll make up for it in the description of the sanyaku highlights. Just like today’s broadcast, I go a bit long after the break. A fun, controversial, and complicated day today toward the end. I will just leave this tweet from the Kyokai here. No reason. Now, on to the highlights.
Kotoyuki (3-6) defeated Daiamami: Straight-forward oshi/tsuki sumo from Kotoyuki today against the Juryo visitor. He tried a quick pull which Daiamami avoided. but Daiamami could not avoid the continuing onslaught and backed out. Tsukidashi.
Takayasu (5-4) defeated Chiyomaru (2-7): Takayasu absorbed Chiyomaru’s tachiai and early thrusts. A quick sidestep and forceful shove sent Chiyomaru to the clay. Hikiotoshi.
This won’t be enough to quiet the injury talk, or stop his opponents from attempting to exploit those injuries. However, it was a quick strong win from the former Ozeki.
Nishikigi (3-6) defeated Shohozan (2-7): Shohozan abandoned oshi-tsuki after the tachiai, reaching in for Nishikigi’s belt. Nishikigi was all to happy for a grapple, securing his own hold of Shohozan’s belt. Shohozan seemed lost, though, and didn’t muster much of an offense. Nishikigi took the initiative and worked Shohozan out, aggressively. Yoritaoshi.
Terunofuji (8-1) defeated Sadanoumi (4-5): Terunofuji quickly achieved his preferred belt grip and moved steadily forward. A wiggle and some resistance from Sadanoumi deflected action slightly to the side but Terunofuji’s overpowering effort forced Sadanoumi over the edge. Terunofuji kachi-koshi. WONDERFUL to see the Kaiju back. Yorikiri.
Wakatakakage (5-4) defeated Shimanoumi (2-7): At the tachiai both wrestlers settled into a grapple with opposing belt grips. Shimanoumi the early aggressor, shoving Wakatakakage around the dohyo but the straw bales offered enough resistance for Wakatakakage to stay in the ring. Wakatakakage began passively but he came up with the plan Bruce was looking for, to wait. When Shimanoumi tired out, Wakatakakage launched his own attack, patiently working Shimanoumi out. Yorikiri.
Myogiryu (7-2) defeated Kotoeko (6-3): Myogiryu kept Kotoeko off the belt but both engaged tightly. Tried an early pull which didn’t work. But his second pull forced Kotoeko out. Hatakikomi.
Kotoshoho (7-2) defeated Ikioi (2-7): Ikioi thrusted forward, looking genki. But Kotoshoho’s pull forced Ikioi off-balance. Ikioi didn’t go down at the hatakikomi attempt but his forward momentum and a last thrust from Kotoshoho launched him out of the ring. Tsukiotoshi.
Kotoshogiku (7-2) defeated Tamawashi (6-3): Oshi-tsuki vs Yotsu battle here. Early on it was an oshi battle but Kotoshogiku weathered Tamawashi’s multiple engagements. Kotoshogiku attempted a quick pull but his opponent snuffed it out. Kotoshogiku engaged again, wrapping up Tamawashi and quickly forcing him out. Yorikiri.
Tochinoshin (6-3) defeated Ishiura (3-6): Bruce did not get his wish for a repeat aggressive performance from Ishiura. A sidestep and death spin from Ishiura but Tochinoshin rolled with it, locking in with his own belt grip. With that right arm grip, Tochinoshin wore Ishiura down and walked him back and out. Yorikiri.
Terutsuyoshi (5-4) defeated Kaisei (3-6): Terutsuyoshi went after Kaisei aggressively. Kaisei maintained his balance at the early slap down attempt but he had no counter-attack. Terutsuyoshi levered into Kaisei’s armpits forcing him high and onto one leg. Terutsuyoshi kept up the pressure and pushed Kaisei out. Oshidashi.
Chiyotairyu (4-5) defeated Ryuden (3-6): Chiyotairyu got the better of the tachiai, forcing Ryuden back a step…and then a little more as Chiyotairyu maintained his attack. Ryuden was in deep trouble and had no defense at the tawara as Chiyotairyu thrust him out. Tsukidashi.
Tokushoryu (5-4) defeated Takarafuji (3-6): Tokushoryu met Takarafuji’s charge head on but shifted to the left and tried a pull. Takarafuji followed and forced Tokushoryu back to the tawara. Takarafuji looked to have Tokushoryu in a bad spot, stood up at the tawara but he couldn’t muster enough strength to force him out. Instead, Tokushoryu danced along the bales and when Takarafuji over-extended, Tokushoryu pushed him down to the clay. Hikiotoshi.
Yutakayama (1-8) defeated Onosho (0-9): The futility bout. Yutakayama showed the most aggressive attacks today. Kachiage at the tachiai and sustained nodowa and face thrusts to keep Onosho high. Yutakayama wrapped up Onosho’s head with a kubinage attempt but Onosho resisted. However, the sustained attack from Yutakayama was too much for Onosho, forced out. Oshidashi.
Endo (3-6) defeated Takanosho (5-4): Takanosho’s early pull attempt was ferreted out by Endo who was able to maintain his balance and position in the center of the ring. Endo kept Takanosho in front of him and forced Takanosho out. Though still missing that energy, Endo’s superior footwork won the day. Oshidashi.
Hokutofuji (6-3) defeated Daieisho (5-4): Daieisho on the attack, blasted Hokutofuji back. But that was to Hokutofuji’s plan as he wrapped up Daieisho’s head during the ride. The straw bales offered just enough leverage to pivot and force Daieisho down. Both men tumbled out at the same time so we got our first mono-ii conference of the day. However, replay confirmed the gyoji’s decision that Hokutofuji had forced Daieisho down. Tsukiotoshi.
Kiribayama (4-5) defeated Mitakeumi (7-2): A strong tachiai from Mitakeumi forced Kiribayama back a step. However, impressive yotsu-zumo from Kiribayama. Mitakeumi was too high and forced back to the center of the ring by the smaller Kiribayama. If Mitakeumi hoped to wear down Kiribayama, he never got the chance as Kiribayama kept up the attack and forced Mitakeumi out. Yorikiri.
Mitakeumi’s sumo was so impotent today it will surely initiate speculation of injury. Perhaps it was just a bit of listlessness, though, after his tough loss yesterday. There were no outward signs of injury and nothing that was obviously plaguing him but we’ll keep an eye out. If it’s just a case of loss of spirit, however, he’ll need to find it in a hurry. Ozeki don’t lose hope after one difficult setback. He’ll need three more wins, at least, to call this a credible run.
Shodai (8-1) vs Kagayaki (3-6): Kagayaki was the early aggressor. With a strong tachiai he met Shodai head on and worked Shodai back to the bales. However, Shodai maintained his composure and mustered his own attack from the tawara. Shodai demonstrated impressive strength to force Kagayaki completely across the ring in the opposite direction and out. Oshidashi.
Asanoyama (9-0) defeated Okinoumi (4-5): Okinoumi showed some jitters with a false start, forcing a reset. The two settled into a grapple at the tachiai but Okinoumi strongly forced Asanoyama back. Asanoyama twisted at the bales and forced Okinoumi down. The shimpan decided they wanted to take another look. On review, it looked like Asanoyama had won as Okinoumi’s arm touched first. However, the shimpan called a torinaoshi, do-over.
The second bout was more decisive for Asanoyama. Strong tachiai wrapped up Okinoumi and pushed him to the edge but Okinoumi resisted. Then, Asanoyama lost the right-hand grip but pursued Okinoumi and blasted with the right shoulder. Again, Okinoumi did not go out but Asanoyama swung back with that left-hand grip still firm and threw Okinoumi back to the center of the ring. Uwatenage.
Takakeisho (6-3) defeated Enho (4-5): Enho’s typical stand-up tachiai works well with Takakeisho’s thrusting style. Enho was unable to get a belt grip at the beginning of the bout and Takakeisho got the thrusting machine moving in pursuit of a retreating Enho. Takakeisho forced out Enho but as he was going out, Enho reached back and touched Takakeisho’s mawashi.
Since Takakeisho’s momentum carried him out and his foot touched outside before Enho fell, the shimpan wanted to review the decision. However, upon review they decided they agreed with the gyoji’s call. Gumbai dori. Enho’s body was already headed out of the dohyo when Takakeisho’s foot stepped out. I think they got this right because it would have been a very weak “win” for Enho. The win was deservedly Takakeisho’s, though it was not his best sumo. Tsukitaoshi.
As we see from time-to-time, sumo is not about “who touched first”. Usually we find this out when the dead body rule is invoked after a tawara-walker gets blasted out and takes a long fall into the crowd, not landing until after the aggressor falls on his belly. This time, though, we see that Takakeisho clearly won and forced Enho out. Enho was just nimble enough to reach back and touch the knot of Takakeisho’s mawashi but not to alter Takakeisho’s direction or attack in any way. The right call.
Hakuho (9-0) defeated Aoiyama (3-6): Hakuho’s perfect record was never in any real danger in this bout. One of the reasons I admire Hakuho’s sumo is that when he is on, he will use his opponent’s preferred styles and techniques to beat them. He “beats them at their own game.” There’s his epic sky crane battle against Tochinoshin as an example.
In contrast, Tamawashi fights hard to NOT have a belt battle. Whatever he does, he wants an oshi brawl. Kotoshogiku wants the belt. Today, Kotoshogiku’s sumo prevailed but both men wanted his bout. So, what’s Aoiyama’s usual gameplan? Oshi-tsuki sumo with hatakikomi slapdowns.
Denied a belt grip at the tachiai, Hakuho did not just weather Aoiyama’s thrusts. He went on the attack despite them, driving Aoiyama back to the edge like a battleship steaming into the heart of a hurricane. Annoyed by a nodowa, Hakuho nearly rips Aoiyama’s arm off when he pulled it down. The force pitched Aoiyama forward but he maintained his balance and set his eyes back on Hakuho. When he charged forward, that’s when Hakuho struck, using Aoiyama’s trademark parry and slapdown to force the Bulgarian to the ground. Hatakikomi.
Unfortunately, Hakuho himself landed awkwardly off the dohyo and on the gyoji from the previous bouts. This made him lose his balance and land hard in the middle of the purple mats, around the third or fourth row of phantom kyakusama. He quickly popped back up to claim his kensho stack but it did look like a hard fall.
Anyway, I look forward to reading y’all’s points-of-view down in the comments. Yes, that is the proper possessive form of “y’all”. I even looked it up.