Its only day three, but I am amazing by how many rikishi are at either 3-0 or 0-3. For the moment, it seems that most of the top division is running quite hot, or stone cold. Maybe the biggest surprise to me is 0-3 Wakatakakage. Reports are that he was injured some time after Hatsu, and really did not train much until his heya reach Osaka. So he’s hurt, and out of condition it seems. As he was one of my hopefuls for the next Ozeki, this set back is a real blow to his career, and I hope he can find a way to get healed up prior to May’s Natsu basho in Tokyo.
At the other end of the spectrum, Tobizaru and Ura in the 3-0 crowd are unexpected front runners among the nine rikishi with perfect scores. I know Ura is now permanently banged up via his reconstructed knees, but he still manages to exhibit a dramatic amount of mobility in his sumo.
Tsurugisho defeats Mitoryu – Mitoryu continues to look completely out-classed in the top division, getting himself overwhelmed by Tsurugisho today. Its not that his sumo mechanics are bad, but in the case of fighting Tsurugisho, he just does not have the power to move that guy. Tsurugisho picks up the win by yorikiri and is now 3-0.
Chiyoshoma defeats Tochinoshin – A right hand frontal group by Chiyoshoma at the second step sealed Tochinoshin’s fate. Once captured and unable to really do anything with his left, he was forced to take steps back toward the bales. A final effort to lift Chiyoshoma off the clay to put himself back in the match failed, and it was time to step out. Chiyoshoma up to 2-1 now, but Tochinoshin returns to Juryo without his first win at 0-3.
Bushozan defeats Oho – Well, at least one of these guys got a win. It might be time for Oho to go back to Juryo and get his sumo together. He delivered some workable oshi-zumo for a time today, but Bushozan had the superior stamina, and wore Oho down. Bushozan picks up his first ever top division win, and is now 1-2.
Hokuseiho defeats Kinbozan – Hokuseiho is really in a sweet spot with his sumo right now. He’s big, strong, and patient. He’s not trying anything complex or risky, he just grabs a hold of his opponent and takes control. I wonder how he is going to do if they give him some tougher opponents. Hokuseiho has a perfect start at 3-0.
Kotoeko defeats Takarafuji – Kotoeko did a masterful job of hand placement at the tachiai. He not only had his right hand raising Takarafuji up by the arm pit, but he blocked Takarafuji’s left at the same time. By the time Takarafuji reset and had a chance to grapple, he had his heels on the tawara, and had no choice but to step out. Kotoeko advances to 2-1.
Daishoho defeats Kagayaki – Daishoho with a bit of a “arm breaker” hold on Kagayaki early in the match, more or less sealed his win. Kagayaki’s long arms were a bit misdirected at first, and it cost him the match. Daishoho at 3-0.
Nishikifuji defeats Takanosho – Nishikifuji continues to be Takanosho’s kryptonite. Nishikifuji attacked first, and attacked well. Takanosho responded by trying a pull while off balance, and twisted. Nishikifuji was on his game and finished him off with a hearty shove, improving to 3-0.
Myogiryu defeats Azumaryu – Prospects are looking dim for Azumaryu to hit his second consecutive top division kachi-koshi, as he takes his 3rd loss today. On the positive side, Myogiryu got his first win today, as it seems Azumaryu can’t really withstand much forward pressure. Myogiryu now 1-2.
Ura defeats Hiradoumi – Some great sumo from Ura again today. I really liked his escape move in the middle of this match to reset against Hiradoumi’s attack. It worked, and gave him offensive initiative, and he went to work immediately. Hiradoumi did not want to go out, and we saw Ura respond with a rapid volley of thrusts to Hiradoumi’s chest. Ura with a perfect start at 3-0.
Aoiyama defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto still can’t find his first win, and it was rapid fire tsuppari from the tachiai, like two cats jacked up on weapons grade catnip. In the face of even thrusting power, Aoiyama deployed a pull that found it’s mark and set Ichiyamamoto out. Aoiyama advances to 2-1.
Takayasu defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi quickly found himself overwhelmed by Takayasu’s thrusting attack. Takayasu was hitting well, but Sadanoumi managed to have his hands inside and first, and that proved an effective defense. But Takayasu was able to break through, and in response Sadanoumi tried to pull, ending the match with a hasty exit by oshidashi for Sadanoumi. Takayasu joins the perfect crew at 3-0.
Endo defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is so far off his sumo that I have my doubts about the utility of having him compete right now. He was in quickly at the tachiai, but immediately tried to pull on Endo before he could even stand up. This tossed any advantage into the bin, and we saw Endo race forward to drive him out. Endo improves to 2-1.
Midorifuji defeats Meisei – This was won thanks to Midorifuji’s relentless focus on center-mass. He was countered by Meisei attacking anything he could from every direction, but Midorifuji stayed focused hitting Meisei’s chest. Once he was able to break Meisei’s balance, each blow upped the power, until Meisei launched from the dohyo into a waiting Mitakeumi. Midorifuji joins the perfect club with 3-0.
Onosho defeats Kotoshoho – Onosho may have surprised Kotoshoho by initiating a chest to chest fight, rather than a thrusting battle. A quick grapple, followed by a half throw / half push down combo from Onosho left Kotoshoho on all fours in the center of the dohyo, still trying to find his first win. Onosho now 2-1.
Mitakeumi defeats Wakamotoharu – Just when I think that Mitakeumi is too banged up to really compete, along comes day 3. Outstanding hand placement by Mitakeumi at the tachiai shattered Wakamotoharu’s defensive stance, sending him stumbling back, only to find Mitakeumi nearly airborne at his chest. Mitakeumi continued to attack past the edge of the ring, with both of them landing full force in the lap of the east side shimpan. Mitakeumi’s first win, now 1-2.
Tobizaru defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s magical mystery tour rolls on, picking up another loss to this basho’s man to beat in the named ranks, Tobizaru. I have to wonder about the choice of a flying henka against Nishikigi today, but at least he delivered it with style. Tobizaru joins the 3-0 crowd.
Daieisho defeats Ryuden – Daieisho decided to make sure Ryuden’s head was firmly attached to his body today, and we are all grateful it did not fly off into the crowd. Vicious nodowa left Ryuden little to do but step out, and Daieisho is 3-0.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Hoshoryu finally picks up his first win of the tournament. He had to overcome Kotonowaka’s solid tachiai and superior hand placement. But Kotonowaka was too high, and had his feet nearly aligned, giving Hoshoryu a broad opportunity to break his stance. A blown throw by Hoshoryu gave Kotonowaka a brief chance to win the match, but Hoshoryu rallied and put him out to advance to 1-2.
Abi defeats Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage’s pre-basho injury continues to take its toll, with him picking up a third consecutive loss. He manages to withstand a hearty ration of Abi-zumo, but loses his footing when he rallies and tries to counter attack. Abi finishes the job with a hatakikomi, improving to 2-1.
Kiribayama defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi opened strong, and had Kiribayama moving back. Kiribayama responded by pivoting into a sukuinage, tossing Tamawashi out. Excellent counter attack by Kiribayama, and he is now 2-1.
Takakeisho defeats Shodai – Takakeisho had the better tachiai, and quickly took control of this match. I did like that Shodai tried to bring out his big-body defense, but Takakeisho just had too much forward power, and blasted Shodai out of the ring on the second volley. Both end the day 2-1.