Hakuho’s Perfect While Injured

sp-sumo-a-20160523-870x620Hakuho’s legend grows by the match. His intensity, almost ruthlessness, in the ring is an utmost virtue in American athletics. You do what you need to do win, within the rules, of course…unless you’re the Patriots. He revealed that a nagging injury returned in the third match but he was still able to persevere and go undefeated. The guy is amazing. If Hakuho were an NFL team, he’d be the Montana/Young 49ers + Aikman Cowboys + Favre Packers. In Japan, a senshuraku henka controversy counts as the scandalous equivalent of texting dick pics to a masseuse (bad joke context).

Tochinoshin, Mitakeumi Awarded Special Prizes

Tochinoshin was awarded the technique prize and Mitakeumi won the Fighting Spirit prize. I can’t help but think that Endo would have won a prize if he’d been able to win today.

In another story line, Kaisei beat an unmotivated Tochiozan easily to get his kachi-koshi and likely promotion to sekiwake for the July tournament. All I have got to say after this one is, Yeesh…. Tochiozan looked like Marcus Davis on a called run. He took today off. Ikioi would have brought it.

Kaisei Determined To Win

At a few points in today’s bout with Kotoyuki, Kaisei looked like he was done. The win, though, staved off makekoshi and even left the door open for a winning record should he beat Tochiozan tomorrow.

Screenshot (198)
Kaisei’s Got Him Where He Wants Him

I was particularly impressed with today’s win because it came against a tough opponent who really dominated the match until the last seconds. There were several occasions where Kaisei was backed up on the straw bales but he kept pushing and kept pushing. That’s not what I am used to from him, quite frankly.

He’s still a win away but with a win, he’ll be the only kachi-koshi wrestler between Ozeki and M4W, Tochinoshin. Meanwhile, Endo is still in the race for a Jun-Yusho. Takekaze will be fighting for a winning record but Endo will be fighting for so much more. Special Prize?

Hakuho Yusho!

Hakuho won his 37th yusho when Kisenosato fell to Kakuryu on the last bout of the day. Just before, Hakuho withstood a great challenge from Harumafuji, securing his 28th win in a row. Tomorrow he will aim to keep the streak alive against Kakuryu. Kisenosato’s 10th jun-yusho must feel particularly bitter tasting.

Endo Knew The Elbow Was Coming

Screenshot (194)
Endo Dodges the Elbow

The Endo/Osunaarashi bout was a bit anticlimactic. Everyone on the planet knew the Egyptian would throw the forearm at Endo’s head, most importantly Endo knew it. Surprisingly, there was nothing following it so when Endo parried the blow he pushed Osunaarashi out with apparent ease – to considerable approval from the crowd.

Hakuho will face Kisenosato tomorrow! Thanks to Kintamayama for the video!

Circle This Bout: Osunaarashi v Endo

Osunaarashi always steps it up  notch against Endo. Whether it was the kenshokin, pride, or something else, the Egyptian will come out swinging…even more so with his kachi koshi on the table. For Endo, hopefully he’s motivated to pick up a special prize if he wins these next four. It would be a big task but if he wins tomorrow, I think it’s a distinct possibility.

Terunofuji Wants Early Retirement

It’s the only way I can explain his decision not to sit out the rest of the tournament. Plainly, he wasn’t able to drive through Yoshikaze and get a yorikiri. That seemed to be his game plan but Yoshikaze got him spun around and from there the pressure was on Terunofuji to just stay in bounds. Yoshikaze couldn’t pick the ozeki up over the straw bales but he didn’t need to as Teru-no-knees fell over.

Kaisei Goes For The Throat

Screenshot (192)
Brutal Nodowa

Kaisei’s forceful stranglehold on Shodai’s neck proved decisive. Kaisei’s now 5-5 at the 2/3 mark. He’ll face Harumafuji tomorrow and has Kotoyuki left among sanyaku opponents. He should be able to win the rest and secure himself a kachi-koshi winning record.

Kaisei has never beaten Harumafuji. He has won several times against Kotoyuki but Kotoyuki has the edge recently in their makuuchi matchups.

Kisenosato Over Kotoshogiku, Stays On Pace

Kotoshogiku’s knee seemed to buckle after a minute of waltzing with Kisenosato. Hakuho handed Terunofuji his makekoshi, hopefully ending the young ozeki’s tournament. My guess, he bounces back to a miraculous 8 wins in the next tournament on those struggling knees. Anyone willing to take me up on that bet? I’m almost willing to put actual money on it.

Screenshot (190)
Endo worked Mitakeumi over the edge

On a more positive note, Endo v Mitakeumi was a great bout between two young guns. The back-and-forth tussle between the two looked to go either way at several points. However, Endo’s right hand grip on Mitakeumi’s belt proved effective. With the victory, Endo’s on his way back. If both stay healthy, this promises to become a great rivalry.

Kaisei Tops Takarafuji, Shodai In Tap For Tomorrow

Screenshot (187)
Kaisei v Takarafuji just before Takarafuji stepped out, handing Kaisei his fourth win

Kaisei is positioned very nicely in his first sanyaku basho with  wins. As mentioned before, all of his losses have come to ozeki and yokozuna. He was able to pick up one win off the injured Terunofuji. This week, his load will lighten considerably so 4 wins in the bag is great. He’ll fight the impressive Shodai tomorrow. It will be their second meeting; Kaisei won their first bout last month.

Ikioi on Concussion Protocol

Hakuho knocked Ikioi out with an elbow to the jaw at the tachiai. Ikioi regained his senses quickly and was able to bow and leave under his own power. He will face another Hakuho KO victim tomorrow in Myogiryu. If this were American football, Ikioi would be out being examined by doctors and he’d likely be inactive tomorrow and for much of the rest of the week. One major difference is that in American football, a lineman would face dozens of charges in a single game. This being sumo, Ikioi will be back with reduced effectiveness – like Terunofuji, Gagamaru, and Amuru.

Ikioi Needed Win, Kaisei Wanted It More

Ikioi was a bit one-dimensional in today’s bout with Kaisei. The Brazilian is a big opponent and he didn’t seem able to counter his size. For a second it looked like he might get a throw, just like with Kotoshogiku yesterday, but Kaisei maintained his balance and picked up the yorikiri victory. I was a little bit disappointed with the outcome because Ikioi always puts in his top effort while sometimes Kaisei can be a bit lackadaisical.

Ikioi will face Hakuho tomorrow while Kaisei will face Takarafuji. Kaisei’s losses have all been to yokozuna and ozeki ranked wrestlers so he’s getting a much needed break. Takarafuji and Kaisei came up the ranks together so they’ve got quite the rivalry, dating back to makushita in 2010. More recently, they’ve split their most recent eight bouts over the last two years so it stands to be a good match.

Hakuho and Kisenosato Lead Yusho Charge

One week in, Hakuho and Kisenosato are putting up some great sumo and should also win tomorrow against Kotoyuki & Yoshikaze. Shodai picks up his first win, expected, against Terunofuji. The ease with which he shrugged off the injured ozeki would hopefully wake Isegahama management to the fact that they need to sit their young star.Screenshot (184)

Goeido is in the chase with a great, aggressive boxing match against Yoshikaze. I’m coming around to Goeido. He still needs to demonstrate some consistency at his Ozeki rank but he’s clearly fitting in among the top. I say that because if you look at how guys like Tochiozan, Tochinoshin, Takarafuji, Yoshikaze, Ikioi, Ichinojo, Aoiyama, Kaisei rise for a tournament or two and then fall back into the middling ranks…Goeido faces top wrestlers each and every tournament and does a respectable job, even if it’s not quite the solid 10 wins that would be expected.

Harumafuji and Tochiozan are the only ones to join him in the chase with Kakuryu’s loss. The yokozuna had a great throw win against Tochinoshin and will have another challenge tomorrow against Kotoshogiku in our first bout among yusho winners.