On Day 3 of Hatsu basho, Akiseyama and Midorifuji remained undefeated and established strong little runs. Haru is a different story with no strong runs out of the gate from the lower ranks. We’ve got only three undefeated wrestlers left, Terunofuji, Myogiryu, and Ichinojo.
Daishomaru (1-3) defeated Yutakayama (1-3) vs: As Bruce alluded to, Yutakayama has not been firing on all cylinders of late. An oshi-/tsuki- “pusher-thruster,” he seemed to want a yotsu-battle against Kotoeko on Day 2 but seemed out of his depth, couldn’t secure a grip on the lavender mawashi, and lost the bout. Yesterday, it was back to an oshi style against Daiamami, which he also lost but he was moving forward with solid tsuppari until Daiamami shrugged him off to the side at the tawara.
The shift in style just makes me wonder if he’s trying to change things up and develop more tools, possibly out of frustration with his inability to find much success recently.
Today, versus Daishomaru he was unable to get any sort of offense going. Daishomaru slipped to the side at the tachiai. When Yutakayama did not fall, Daishomaru launched an attack, driving Yutakayama back to the edge. When Yutakayama’s right leg reached the tawara, he went down. tsukiotoshi.
Kotoeko (3-1) defeats Daiamami (2-2): Kotoeko lodged his right arm up in Daiamami’s armpit. His left arm remained active, trying to keep Daiamami’s right arm away from his own belt. With a quick pivot, Kotoeko yanked Daiamami around to his left side, and then pushed Daiamami over the bales. Yorikiri.
Tsurugisho (1-3) defeated Hidenoumi (2-2): Tsurugisho secured a left-hand grip on Hidenoumi’s belt and drove forward, forcing Hidenoumi back and out for his first win. Yorikiri.
Kaisei (3-1) defeated Chiyoshoma (2-2): Chiyoshoma took on Kaisei head-to-head and attempted an early throw, nearly getting Kaisei off-balance. Kaisei recovered and wrapped up Chiyoshoma, driving him backwards and over the bales. Yorikiri.
Terutsuyoshi (2-2) defeated Chiyotairyu (2-2): Chiyotairyu battered Terutsuyoshi around the shoulders and pushed forward a few steps but then decided to pull. Terutsuyoshi maintained his balance, pushed forward and pushed Chiyotairyu over the bales. Oshidashi.
Aoiyama (3-1) defeated Midorifuji (2-2): After a couple of false starts that Aoiyama objected to, Aoiyama battered the smaller Midorifuji around the ring. He established separation with very strong thrusting, then as Midorifuji recoiled, he deployed his patented force down. Hatakikomi.
Akiseyama (3-1) defeated Ryuden (1-3): Ryuden’s wiggle summoned no extra power today. Akiseyama got a strong right-hand grip at the front of Ryuden’s belt and stopped the twerker’s forward progress. With his secure grip he drove forward and forced Ryuden over the bales.
Chiyonokuni (3-1) defeated Hoshoryu (1-3): Bruce tapped this bout for its potential with good reason. Both wrestlers are adept with their footwork and sometimes use that footwork to deploy exciting tripping attacks. Hoshoryu started with a sidestep on the tachiai and Chiyonokuni kept up a fierce pace with his slaps and thrusts. Hoshoryu’s footwork let us all down under the torrent as he lost his balance. Chiyonokuni pounced and pushed Clark Kent forward, from his behind. Okuritaoshi.
Tobizaru (2-2) defeated Kotonowaka (1-3): We got a little of everything in this bout. A brawl, a tussle on the belt, a leanfest, and then a throw to finish things off. A long, exciting bout. Kotonowaka had several opportunities to dispatch the flying monkey but Tobizaru prevailed. Shitatenage.
Tochinoshin (2-2) defeated Kagayaki (2-2): A strong tachiai, and Kagayaki thrust Tochinoshin in the face, getting that head up. I thought he’d follow with some more oshi but maybe he needed a hug? Kagayaki wrapped up Tochinoshin and drove forward but at the tawara Tochinoshin launched a powerful throw. Sukuinage.
Halftime (Time to grab some coffee)
Endo (1-3) defeated Ichinojo (3-1): Endo sidestepped at the tachiai and Ichinojo pursued, wrapping him up. Endo perserveres through several of Ichinojo’s wrenching throw attempts. As he got Ichinojo to the edge, Endo got his right hand belt grip. With his head embedded in Ichinojo’s chest, Endo easily guided Ichinojo out. Yorikiri.
Kiribayama (2-2) defeated Okinoumi (1-3): After a short brawl, Kiribayama locked in on Okinoumi’s belt with his left hand. However, the winning attack came from the right as Kiribayama clenched Okinoumi’s arm, pivoted, and dragged Okinoumi around for a beautiful throw. Kotenage.
Myogiryu (4-0) defeated Tamawashi (2-2): Myogiryu launched into a strong tachiai but Tamawashi recovered, assaulting Myogiryu about the face and shoulders. However, Myogiryu got some separation and when Tamawashi went to attack again, Myogiryu blocked Tamawashi’s attack and pushed Tamawashi’s arms down, putting Tamawashi on his belly. Hikiotoshi.
Mitakeumi (3-1) defeated Wakatakakage (1-3): Wakatakakage had a powerful tachiai, using his head as a missile and launching into Mitakeumi’s head. However, Mitakeumi recovered and powerfully drove through the smaller Wakatakakage, sending him over the edge. There was no sign of the guy who was able to defeat Ozeki Takakeisho yesterday. Yorikiri.
Takayasu (3-1) defeated Daieisho (0-4): Wow. A Houdini escape here. Damn. Morita-san used the term Houdini, too. Think fast, Andy. Who’s another escape artist? A real David Blane escape here by Takayasu. Daieisho with a powerful tachiai, drives strongly through Takayau, nearly pushes him down in the middle of the ring. But as Takayasu recovered, Daieisho thrust his big paw into Takayasu’s chin with a strong nodowa. However, Takayasu unbelievably slipped to the side at the last second, pushing Daieisho out. Tsukiotoshi.
Terunofuji (4-0) defeated Meisei (2-2): The drama. The buildup, then what a blistering tachiai! Meisei demonstrated speed, power and guile. He nearly tripped Terunofuji but the Kaiju powered through from a very high, unfavorable position. With both of Meisei’s arms secured, drove back to the center of the ring, wrapped up Meisei’s arm and threw him to the clay. Kotenage.
Takanosho (3-1) defeated Shimanoumi (1-3): Shimanoumi hit with a strong tachiai and drove Takanosho to the tawara. From here, though, Takanosho drove Shimanoumi back all the way across the dohyo. It looked like the worst pull ever attempted in the history of sumo as he couldn’t get his right arm out to try a thrust down. Takanosho had Shimanoumi’s arm securely locked up. Takanosho maintained his balance and pushed Shimanoumi out. Oshidashi.
Takakeisho (3-1) defeated Takarafuji (0-4): Takakeisho blasted Takarafuji around the ring and out with some straight-forward oshi. He followed the familiar pattern of Juggernaut headbutt, then powerful arm thrusts as he pursued Takarafuji around the ring. Oshidashi.
Asanoyama (3-1) defeated Onosho (1-3): Onosho hit the Ozeki solidly and looked to be on his way to an upset. Asanoyama was upright and backpedaling. But Asanoyama pivoted at the edge and angrily cast Onosho into the Yobidashi. Tsukiotoshi.
Hokutofuji (2-2) defeated Shodai (2-2): Shodai absorbed Hokutofuji’s tachiai. Hokutofuji tried a pull which didn’t work. But rather than make him pay for it, Shodai does his own terrible pull attempt. Hokutofuji kept his legs under him and his head in Shodai’s chest and forced the Ozeki over the bales for the upset. Oshidashi.
Remember Freytag’s pyramid? Well, the drama today followed that pattern as the action built to its climax well before the final bouts, probably there with Takayasu’s miracle win and Terunofuji’s scare. After that, the action and drama fell as the Ozeki appear to have resolved amongst themselves that they do not want to challenge for any rope. Takakeisho and Asanoyama’s wins were rather uninspired and Shodai’s loss (the denouement of today’s play) underscored the lack of dominant, quality sumo in the top ranks. It certainly appears that the wrestler with the most ambition for advancement at the moment is our Kaiju. With his fourth win, he’s almost half-way to that magic number of 9 that Hiroshi Morita was citing on tonight’s broadcast. Personally, I think he’s aiming higher, for more wins. And he may be the only one. Well, him and Myogiryu.