In a wild and chaotic day 3, we had many winless rikishi earn their first white star today. We are left with just 4 men with 0-3 scores, most of whom are fighting well. But then there is Shodai. Please, sir. Go kadoban now. Seek out physicians who have been using protocols to treat long COVID and find some way to give it a try. It’s heartbreaking to see him struggle at a fraction of his potential, robbed of his strength and endurance by a disease.
Also in the annals of “Named ranks in trouble”, Takakeisho needs to take this 8 win challenge seriously. Maybe he is, but that match against Hoshoryu defies explanation to me. Hopefully some of our cherished readers can leave comments with their ideas of what the hell that was, and talk me off the ledge.
Oh, but then there is Terunofuji. I vote foot injury here. Please just go kyujo and get fixed up sir, sumo needs a Yokozuna, but needs on that is in fighting form, which right now you are not. The fans and everyone else will understand.
Kagayaki defeats Kotokuzan – To Kagayaki… Your tachiai was high, your thrusting went high against Kotokuzan’s neck rather than center mass, and I am not sure I saw you drop your hips once. Lucky for you Kotokuzan decided he was going to repeatedly try to pull, abandoning all forward motion sumo. He gave you the match, and you should thank him. I know Kotokuzan is on a once in a life time trip into the top division, but we have all seen Kagayaki use much better sumo than this. But at least you are 2-1 now.
Nishikigi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had this match won twice. But Nishikigi has the years or experience needed to just stick with it and do whatever to stay upright and in the ring. I think Ichiyamamoto decided he had it won, and opened his chest, and received a sharp and finishing counter attack. Nishikigi advances to 3-0.
Yutakayama defeats Kotoshoho – Quite a messy match, it was Kotoshoho with the early advantage, and he had Yutakayama packaged up and ready to ship. But Yutakayama had one more thing, and I note with great interest that once he had a hold of Kotoshoho, the tables turned. It did not help that Kotoshoho attempted twice to execute a throw he was not positioned to make. Yutakayama, now 3-0, should consider his yotsu-sumo potential. It worked well for Asanoyama, and I know that your style comes quite a bit from being Shodai’s training partner, but give it a thought.
Chiyonokuni defeats Tochinoshin – Well yes, Tochinoshin did try that forearm hit with Chiyonokuni. But he was well prepared to absorb the blow. As is so frequently the case, Tochinoshin’s opening move left him off balance, and an easy mark for Chiyonokuni to thrust him back and pull him down, improving to 2-1.
Akua defeats Chiyomaru – Akua, not normally a grappler, grabbed a hold of Chiyomaru early in the match. But of course the question was, once you grab someone that large, what do you do with him? Akua discovered that even his long arms were not long enough to really do much other than hold on and hope. With both men locked up at the center of the dohyo, Akua managed to free his left hand grip and throw with his right, putting Chiyomaru on the clay and picking up his first win of Haru to improve to 1-2.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu was very carful with this match, I think he suspected that Terutsuyoshi would unleash some rapid, difficult to counter move if Chiyotairyu moved in closely with any level of speed or force. Terutsuyoshi was patient, careful and worked for his goal, a left hand grip. The match ended with an exchange of throwing attempts, with Terutsuyoshi’s succeeding, sending Chiyotairyu to the clay. Terutsuyoshi improves to 2-1.
Myogiryu defeats Kotoeko – You can see Kotoeko try to start some offense and forward motion, but Myogiryu lifted and powered forward, taking Kotoeko directly out of the ring to improve to 2-1.
Wakamotoharu defeats Aoiyama – Wakamotoharu receives a right hand slap to the face, bloodying his nose, at the tachiai. But that is the extent of Aoiyama’s offense today, and Wakamotoharu runs him straight back and out, improving to 2-1.
Shimanoumi defeats Tobizaru – Shimanoumi picks up his first win by maintaining his right hand nodowa on Tobizaru no matter how much Tobizaru danced about trying to escape. Complimented by a left hand mawashi grip, Shimanoumi controlled this match, and drove Tobizaru out to improve to 1-2.
Okinoumi defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi took the early advantage, getting both hands inside and setting up chest to chest at the tachiai. Where Okinoumi got that uwatenage from, I am just going to allocate it to the veteran’s amazing collection of surprising sumo. Okinoumi picks up his first win of March, and is 1-2.
Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – Takayasu wisely kept Chiyoshoma guessing about the tachiai, and it payed off. With his opponent’s start disrupted, Takayasu made quick work of Chiyoshoma, and my much hoped for mega-battle was scrapped before the first step. Takayasu picks up his 3rd win to go 3-0 to start Haru, and is looking in his best form in years.
Kotonowaka defeats Ishiura – Ishiura launches himself into the tachiai, Kotonowaka catches him and lifts him sky-crane style and bodily tosses him into the second row. Dramatic as can be, but it seems that in the process Ishiura was injured. Badly enough that he did not need to mount the dohyo to bow to end the match, and a pack of blue-jackets helped him limp back to shitaku-beya. Kotonowaka now 3-0.
Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Hokutofuji picks up his first win, and it as pretty neat to see him just brute strength push against one of the strongest defensive rikishi in all of sumo. Takarafuji held his ground well, you can see him dig his toes in too (which is great), but Hokutofuji is just not going to relent, and drives forward again to send Takarafuji out. 1-2 now for Hokutofuji, nice effort sir.
Endo defeats Onosho – Endo played this expertly, coaxing the junior tadpole into an increasingly forceful forward attack. This tends to put him off balance, and once Onosho was ramped up a bit, Endo moved deftly to the side. and pushed. Endo improves to 2-1.
Tamawashi defeats Takanosho – Tamawashi’s left hand arm pit (hazu-oshi) attack at the tachiai shut down Takanosho’s offense, and disrupted his balance. It was a great opening gambit, and Tamawashi followed up with thrust’s directly into the chest to rob Takanosho of any chance to stabilize his stance. It was three quick steps from there, giving Tamawashi his first win of Haru to improve to 1-2.
Abi defeats Kiribayama – As we had assumed, Kiribayama’s first encounter with Abi-zumo was going to be a rough time for Kiribayama. Catching that much force in the face over and over again will put anyone off their sumo, and you can see Kiribayama struggle to stay upright under the volley. For once brief moment, Kiribayama sets his feet and looks ready to attack, but his chest is wide open, and Abi launches a broadside right to center mass. Down goes Kiribayama into the salt box. Abi now 2-1, Kiribayama probably went back to the dressing room to check his teeth.
Wakatakakage defeats Meisei – Meisei is no sumo slacker, but he was unable to get any offense or defense together in the brief moment it took for Wakatakakage to land both hands inside and blast Meisei out of the ring. Wow. Wakatakakage 3-0.
Hoshoryu defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho, what the hell was that? He straight up went to grapple Hoshoryu and run him out. I am sure it surprised Hoshoryu, but not enough that Hoshoryu forgot how much he loves to throw people. Look, kadoban Ozeki, get your 8 wins first, then try your experiments on the younger guys. Hoshoryu picks up his first win and both end the day 1-2.
Ichinojo defeats Shodai – Heartbreaking. You can see Shodai try to get his “Wall of Daikon” going twice, with zero effect. He simply does not have the strength to do that right now. Ichinojo improves to 2-1.
Mitakeumi defeats Daieisho – At least one of the Ozeki corps is still able to rack the wins. I think Daieisho invested a bit too much in that nodowa, and was prime for a slippiotoshi, which the great sumo cat was all to pleased to deliver. Mitakeumi unbeaten at 3-0.
Terunofuji defeats Ura – The basis for Terunofuji’s elevation to Yokozuna was an nearly unassailable defense that allowed him to endure matches and wait for his opponent to make a mistake, which he would then exploit with brutal effect. We have not seen that sumo this March, and it’s got to be injury. Terunofuji can’t hold position, can’t endure strong forward pressure, and each day seems rushed and eager to quickly end any match. I predict kyujo before day 9. Today’s match was resolved in Terunofuji’s favor during a monoii that reviewed a near simultaneous exit by a retreating Terunofuji and an attacking Ura. Not good.