Andy broke the news last night – Hakuho has withdrawn from Haru, and his future is now in doubt. Both Yokozuna had been admonished to return to competition, and participate in a full basho, or retire. It’s clear that Hakuho’s knee is still damaged, and we have no idea if he is suffering any long lasting effects from his bout with COVID-19. While it’s very nice to see him back in action, we may have now reached the point where we say goodbye to the Yokozuna, and hope that new ones might arise. I very much doubt we will hear anything before the end of the basho, though there is speculation that he might seek surgery on his knee, and attempt to return in July. It’s his life, and his body, but everyone can see it’s probably time for him to step down. I realize I said I preferred that Kakuryu go down fighting, and that is true for Hakuho as well. But perhaps both of their bodies have already retired, and their minds are just slow to follow.
Ishiura defeats Hidenoumi – Ok, that was a fun one! I wondered why the two of them were shoulder to shoulder with such frantic hand action in side. Hidenoumi wanted to prevent Ishiura from setting up the throw. But Ishiura stuck to his target and found his mark with a glorious uwatehineri. If you get to watch a slow motion replay, note Ishiura’s foot placement and balance into that uwatehineri. Both end the day 2-1.
Daiamami defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama got the inside position at the tachiai, and went to work. He looked to have a clean oshi-zumo win about to happen, but Daiamami converted Yutakayama’s big (off-balance) finishing thrust into a deflection to the side, sending Yutakayama to the clay. Daiamami improves to 2-1.
Kaisei defeats Tsurugisho – Two giant men going chest to chest in a battle of strength? Yes please! Tsurugisho seemed to have an early advantage, but either his knees lost strength, or Kaisei found his sumo underneath that rust. Kaisei went on the advance and took the win, finishing 2-1.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – Power pixie battle deluxe! Kotoeko started strong and had Terutsuyoshi on the run. But a following a Kotoeko pulling attempt, Terutsuyoshi cranked up the power to 11 and ran Kotoeko out across the bales. That’s a first win of March for Terutsuyoshi, and he looked good winning, too.
Chiyoshoma defeats Aoiyama – I know he lost, but Aoiyama is on fire! I have not seen him consistently make use of his brutal thrusting attack in this manner in years. I was even more impressed that Chiyoshoma endured all of that, and stayed patient, looking for his opening. He finally got a grip on one of Aoiyama’s enormous arms, and converted that to a sukuinage. Both finish the day at 2-1.
Chiyotairyu defeats Akiseyama – The big belly battle goes to Chiyotairyu, who uses his cannon-ball tachiai to stand Akiseyama upright, thrust to the chest to raise him higher, and then pulls him down. Textbook Chiyotairyu sumo. Both end the day 2-1.
Ryuden defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho joins the kyujo ranks with both Yokozuna, Ryuden gets his first win by default.
Chiyonokuni defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji had early advantage, but when he tried to rotate into a pull, it failed. In response he pulled against Chiyonokuni, and that was an open invitation for Chiyonokuni to run him across the dohyo and over the tawara. Invitation accepted. Both end the day 2-1.
Tobizaru defeats Hoshoryu – Tobizaru gets his first win of March. It looked like he started the match trying to grapple Hoshoryu, who used a combination of thrusts, ottsuke and maneuver to stalemate Tobizaru. But Tobizaru kept the pressure center mass, and kept Hoshoryu closer to the tawara, where he finished him with a mighty shove.
Tochinoshin defeats Kotonowaka – A Tochinoshin pulling attempt left both men stumbling and off balance. Tochinoshin regained some level of footing and pushed Kotonowaka out for his first win of the basho, improving to 1-2.
Ichinojo defeats Kagayaki – The haunting melodies of the Fields of the Nephilim could not help Goth-Mode Kagayaki today. Ichinojo’s attack was over in just a moment, as he grabbed Kagayaki’s neck, then pulled and twisted. Thankfully Kagayaki’s neck is more durable than a bottle of Heineken, but he went tumbling, giving Ichinojo his 3rd straight win.
Tamawashi defeats Endo – This was really Tamawashi vs Endo’s face. Endo has a famous face, but clearly it was not created to stand up to that much Mongolian patty-cake. For some reason, the master tactician has a 0-3 start to March, and across Japan, little old grannies are worried.
Myogiryu defeats Okinoumi – They went chest to chest at the tachiai, with Myogiryu in control, and Okinoumi with just half of a working grip. Before Okinoumi could get a hold with his left hand, Myogiryu drove forward and finished the match, to improve his score to 3-0.
Meisei defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama was blasted off the shikiri-sen, and as he was accelerating in reverse, he attempted to set up a throw at the tawara. Meisei was not going to allow any of that, and drove Kiribayama out, crushing him to the clay.
Takayasu defeats Shimanoumi – Wow, Takayasu came out of the tachiai, with his hands in perfect position. He found center mass, and his first push moved Shimanoumi back. Takayasu just kept the pressure going, and quickly put Shimanoumi over the tawara on the west sdie for his second win of March.
Takanosho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi attempted an arm grab on the second step after the tachiai, which was only partially successful. This left his chest wide open, and Takanosho applied maximum force center-mass, and got Mitakeumi on the move. Takanosho kept the pressure going, and three steps later, Mitakeumi was out. Both end the day 2-1.
Terunofuji defeats Daieisho – Terunofuji takes the tachiai, and immediately gets Daieisho with his feet not set for defense. As Daieisho moves to try and recover, Terunofuji stays with him. Daieisho tried to improves something at the bales, but it was over by then and he takes his third straight loss of March.
Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji got his right hand nodowa at the tachiai, and drove Asanoyama back. At this stage, Hokutofuji normally has his left hand against his opponents chest to apply the energy to move them out. But Asanoyama was ready for this, and managed to shift left, breaking the nodowa and applying pressure to Hokutofuji’s right shoulder. That moment of energy was so off-axis for Hokutofuji, it sent him tumbling to the clay.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Shodai got good hand position at the tachiai, and removed most of Terunofuji’s options to defend and extend. It was a quick march across the clay for Shodai’s second win of March.
Wakatakakage defeats Takakeisho – Impressive effort by Wakatakakage, he really earned that win. He took a fierce set of volleys from Takakeisho. There was a crucial leap to the right that gave Wakatakakage an opening, as it caused Takakeisho to pause and re-acquire his target. In that pause, Wakatakakage took initiative, and got Takakeisho on the move, then used that momentum to drive him out.