Hakuho and Terunofuji opened Day 11 with a share of the lead. Schedulers pitted Mitakeumi against Terunofuji and Wakatakakage against Hakuho. Would either be able to trip up the leaders? They have quite the cushion between themselves and the field, with Kotonowaka two wins back.
Takayasu’s return to form also brings him and his potential Ozeki run back into frame, potentially as a spoiler in this yusho race. This is a massive IF, but if he wins out, he will finish on 11 wins and put himself in a better position for promotion in September than he ever was in going into this tournament. However, to achieve that, he will likely have to go through both Hakuho and Terunofuji. Losses to both men will effectively end this “run” completely, and force him to start over. He has been competing very well but he needs to start picking up 11- and 12-win tournaments. In this form, and with all these other competitors falling away, he may be able to start a real run in September. So, again, this is probably not the time but if he doesn’t want to start all over, he’s going to need to run the table.
Daiamami (3-8) defeated Shohozan: It was nice to see Shohozan back, briefly, in prime time. He attacked quickly off the tachiai but Daiamami cornered him well. Daiamami secured a solid belt grip and lifted Shohozan to the edge. Shohozan resisted at the tawara and briefly powered himself back to the center of the ring. He locked up one of Daiamami’s arms, looking for a kotenage, but Daiamami used his size well and brought Shohozan back under control. Cornered, again, at the tawara, Shohozan was forced out. Yorikiri.
Tochinoshin (4-7) defeated Tokushoryu (3-8): Tokushoryu was able to make one, solid offensive charge but Tochinoshin countered at the edge driving forward with a left hand inside grip. In a last, desperate attempt to stave off make-koshi, Tochinoshin summoned all of his upper-body power to twist and throw Tokushoryu down. Shitatenage.
Tsurugisho (7-4) defeated Kaisei (5-6): Tsurugisho pounded Kaisei at the tachiai and used his lower body position to attack from below and keep Kaisei too high. With a solid morozashi, he worked Kaisei back to the tawara and then over the edge. Yorikiri
Ishiura vs Terutsuyoshi (6-5) defeated Ishiura (7-4): Ishiura launched in low, and tried to keep Terutsuyoshi at arms length. Terutsuyoshi quickly gained the advantage and twisted Ishiura down from the shoulders. Ruled a Kotenage.
Tamawashi (8-3) defeated Ichiyamamoto (7-4): Tamawashi neutralized Ichiyamamoto’s slapping attack early, pushing powerfully at Ichiyamamoto’s left under arm and face. Tamawashi powered forward to his kachi-koshi. Oshidashi.
Shimanoumi (6-5) defeated Kotonowaka (8-3): Shimanoumi broke the stalemate with forward-moving sumo. Kotonowaka seemed to want to play a pulling game today. He was able to reach in deeper and secure a belt grip while Shimanoumi couldn’t quite reach. But Shimanoumi drove forward, forcing Kotonowaka over the edge. Kotonowaka is now one more loss off pace. Oshidashi.
Chiyonokuni (6-5) defeated Hidenoumi (5-6): Matta because Hidenoumi was slow-rolling his tachiai. And boy did Chiyonokuni punish him for it, winning a one-sided bar fight. Tsukidashi.
Chiyoshoma (7-4) defeated Kagayaki (4-7): Kagayaki charged forward, forcing Chiyoshoma back to the edge. Chiyoshoma won with a brilliant, last second twisting throw at the edge. Sukuinage.
Chiyonoo (5-6) defeated Myogiryu (2-9): Chiyonoo played a dangerous game today. At the edge, he picked up Myogiryu, and fell backward, twisting Myogiryu to the left. The gunbai went to Myogiryu but a mono-ii reversed the decision. Chiyonoo’s gambit paid off. Utchari.
Ura (7-4) defeated Kiribayama (7-4): Ura made Kiribayama jump at the tachiai, an awkward matta. Kiribayama locked up Ura’s left arm but Ura drove forward, then pulled back, freeing it so he could force Kiribayama’s head down as he twisted him down over the edge. Sukuinage.
Onosho (4-7) defeated Chiyomaru (4-7): Onosho dominated. He quickly overpowered Chiyomaru, forcing him back and over the edge. Oshidashi
Takarafuji (7-4) defeated Okinoumi (5-6): Takarafuji won a straight-forward left-hand inside yotsu battle. Okinoumi tried valiantly to keep that hand from getting in there. But the Takarabune locked on and sailed forward, forcing Okinoumi over the edge. Yorikiri
Hokutofuji (6-5) defeated Aoiyama (4-7): Hokutofuji kept Aoiyama in front and kept the pressure going. Aoiyama tried a hatakikomi but Hokutofuji kept his balance and pushed Aoiyama out. Oshidashi.
Ichinojo (8-3) defeated Takanosho (5-6): A motivated Ichinojo sprang out of his tachiai, guns blazing. He chased Takanosho around the ring, and wrangled his kachi-koshi. If he keeps this up, a special prize will be waiting. Oshidashi.
***Slow orders in effect.***
Wow, they really started killing for time here. I’ve wondered whether that messes with the rhythm of the wrestlers. Everything’s so business-like, and then…a work slow-down.
Daieisho (2-9) defeated Chiyotairyu (2-9): Chiyotairyu drove forward at the initial charge but Daieisho’s gentle shove forced him to the side. Daieisho pursued and finished him with another gentle shove. Oshidashi.
Meisei (6-5) defeated Kotoeko (2-9): Meisei charged forward, keeping Kotoeko from getting any kind of grip or having any time to figure out how to counter. When you do forward-moving sumo, good things happen. Yorikiri.
Takayasu (7-2-2) defeated Tobizaru (3-8): Tobizaru withstood a barrage of thrusts and slaps from Takayasu. But when Takayasu tired and the action settled down, he didn’t seem to have enough gas left in his own tank to launch an attack of his own. Instead, Takayasu backed up and slapped him down. Tobizaru now make-koshi. Hatakikomi.
Terunofuji (11-0) defeated Mitakeumi (6-5): Welp, I sure got this yusho call wrong, didn’t I? Mitakeumi capitulated as the Kaiju came looking for him. Yorikiri.
Hoshoryu (8-3) defeated Shodai (6-5): When Shodai pulled to the edge with a one handed belt grip, he tried and tried to tip Hoshoryu over. He had no plan B. Meanwhile, Hoshoryu’s feet were busy with Plans B, C, and D. He was maintaining balance while launching tripping attacks. He eventually got Shodai’s tightrope sidle out of alignment, forcing him down. Yoritaoshi
Hakuho (11-0) defeated Wakatakakage (3-8): Masterful body positioning and footwork from Hakuho. He cornered Wakatakakage even though Wakatakakage was still feet from the tawara, sprung forward, and forced Wakatakakage onto his butt. Yoritaoshi.
No one is posing any challenge to Hakuho and Terunofuji. Terunofuji completely outclassed Mitakeumi. If Mitakeumi’s hiding an injury, well, it’s hard to say it’s something greater than what Terunofuji powers through every time he puts on his mawashi. He should have presented more of a roadbump on Terunofuji’s path to the yusho. I’ve got my popcorn ready for the next few days. Will it be an epic redemption of “The Greatest,” or will Terunofuji’s own comeback story reach greater heights?