Brilliant day of action, and I have to call out Kotoshoho for impressive improvisational sumo. He showed an ability to switch to plan b/c/d that was almost reminiscent of Hakuho. He ultimately lost the match, but the ability to do that while in the heat of battle is pretty impressive.
The top news must be that Wakatakakage was able to achieve what he was asked, and thanks to some poor traction under Takanosho’s feet, put the yusho race leader into the dirt with just 2 days left to go. This opens up the yusho race to Takanosho, Terunofuji and (what?) Sadanoumi. Yes, dear old speed master Sadanoumi made Hoshoryu look like a chump today, and earned his way into this weekend’s three way battle for the cup. Ura was not so fortunate, as a poor choice of escape moves left him easy meat for Abi-zuno, dropping him from contention.
Hidenoumi defeats Kagayaki – After a Kagayaki opening surge, Hidenoumi gets his hips down, finds his hands in working position, and attacks. He quickly gains control of the match, pushing Kagayaki back and then out the East side. At long last Kagayaki, the last man on the banzuke, is make-koshi. If he is not in Juryo in July, it will be borderline criminal. Hidenoumi improves to 8-5.
Oho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu opens strong, but Oho keeps his head in the match, and one eye on his opponent. He catches Myogiryu too far forward and swings him down for a very welcome win. Oho improves to 6-7, Myogiryu picks up his 8th loss and is 5-8 make-koshi for Natsu.
Midorifuji defeats Nishikigi – Midorifuji tried a tentative pull quite early in the match, and it got Nishikigi off balance enough that Midorifuji was able to get him moving quickly. With Nishikigi too far forward, Midorifuji swung him to the clay in a really nice combo move. I am not sure I have ever seen back to back katasukashi before. Midorifuji improves to 7-6.
Okinoumi defeats Kotokuzan – Ah, poor hapless Kotokuzan. He is able to absorb most of Okinoumi’s tachiai, but Okinoumi just keeps moving through him, running him out the West side three steps later. Okinoumi improves to 7-6.
Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho tried for an immediate throw in the tachiai, and ended up with terrible body position, giving Meisei a double inside grip. The combo that came next represented a most impressive improvisation to try and recover any kind of fighting position, putting Kotoshoho in control of the match with a Terunofuji style double arm lock grip on Meisei. Meisei stalemates him in the center of the dohyo, probably working out what the hell just happened, prior to surging forward and ramming Kotoshoho across the West side bales by yorikiri. Meisei improves to 7-6. Fantastic match by both men.
Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyoshoma had his arms forward at the tachiai, and caught Terutsuyoshi before he could completely stand up. Pushing forward, Terutsuyoshi was unbalanced, and Chiyoshoma stepped back and slapped him down. Simple and effective, Chiyoshoma ends the day at 6-7.
Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Quite strong sumo from Aoiyama today. Not quite the whole V-Twin attack, but he took command at the second step, and put his hands on Shimanoumi. Pushing with everything he could muster (and that’s quite a bit) he never let Shimanoumi get any offense started. Aoiyama improves to 9-4.
Yutakayama defeats Kotoeko – Yutakayama was able to disrupt Kotoeko’s balance with a strong shove at the tachiai. A second volley a moment later sent Kotoeko stumbling, forcing him down. Yutakayama improves to 6-7, Kotoeko is make-koshi at 5-8.
Wakamotoharu defeats Azumaryu – Wakamotoharu applies an arm pit lift at the tachiai, which wrecks Azumaryu’s opening attack. From there it’s a left hand inside grip for Wakamotoharu, and a strong surge forward to quickly toss Azumaryu in the make-koshi bin at 5-8, while securing kachi-koshi for himself at 8-5.
Tamawashi defeats Chiyotairyu – Big tachiai from Chiyotairyu, but Tamawashi responds with a massive thrust center mass. Chiyotairyu can’t really hold ground this basho for some reason, and is propelled back and out by the third step. Both end the day 7-6 and will have to try for kachi-koshi tomorrow.
Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – This sad battle of the fujis has a somewhat questionable ending, where it looked to me that Takarafuji had slapped Hokutofuji down before stepping out. But the gyoji called it a Hotutofuji win, and the call was not reviewed. Hokutofuji improves to 4-9.
Kotonowaka defeats Tobizaru – Today was a great example of Tobizaru using combo attacks in a match. There are advantages to this, it keeps your opponent guessing where you are going to hit next. Of course the problem is, you allow your opponent opportunities to steady his defense because you don’t overwhelm any part of his body. Kotonowaka played this perfect, waiting out Tobizaru’s frantic monkey-sumo. Kotonowakaka gets a hand on Tobizaru’s mawashi, and takes control, finishing him a moment later with an oshitaoshi. Kotonowaka improves to 7-6, Tobizaru make-koshi at 5-8.
Kiribayama defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin let Kiribayama get a deep double inside grip, and then wanted to try a kimidashi. It seems the sky-crane was not in working order today. It devolved into a yotsu endurance match, and Tochinoshin had poor body position. Kiribayama waited him out, and when the time came, walked Tochinoshin back for a yorikiri win, improving to 9-4.
Endo defeats Takayasu – Takayasu kept Endo back with some strong oshi/tsuki sumo for a moment. But Endo was relentless, closing in and getting a right hand grip, immediately converting that to an uwatedashinage, rolling Takayasu to the clay. Endo improves to 6-7.
Daieisho defeats Ichiyamamoto – As assumed in the preview, Ichiyamamoto was completely outclassed today. He got in a good double hand combo at the tachiai, but Daieisho stood him up, and immediately slapped him down. Daieisho advances to 9-4.
Sadanoumi defeats Hoshoryu – The wages of hubris are defeat. Captain stare down seems to discount Sadanoumi’s incredible speed, and gets overwhelmed from the moment of launch. Though Kiribayama tries a throw as Sadanoumi is rushing him out of the ring, he is off balance and it implodes before the rotation can complete. It was close, but the monoii confirms that Sadanoumi won, and he advances to 10-3.
Abi defeats Ura – A sloppy escape move by Ura as Abi was pounding him threw this match away. Ura turned and presented his back to Abi, and it was off to the races for Abi. Abi improves to 7-6, knocking Ura out of contention for the yusho.
Wakatakakage defeats Takanosho – Wakatakakage completed the task assigned him today, getting dirt on Takanosho for the 3rd time this basho. To be fair there was a bit of a slippiotoshi from Takanosho, but Wakatakakage played his part perfectly, and is rewarded with an improved 7-6 score. With that, the yusho race opens up, and we have the final weekend battle for the cup.
Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – This match was all Mitakeumi. Shodai was able to make a bit of a stand at the tawara, but Mitakeumi kept up the pressure, locking Shodai down, and preventing any cartoon moves at the tawara. Shodai is kadoban, make-koshi, and hereby directed to get his act together. Mitakeumi improves to 6-7.
Terunofuji defeats Takakeisho – I was fairly certain that Takakeisho was not going to be able to best Terunofuji, given the Ozeki’s poor condition this May. But he gave it a hell of an effort, and my compliments to him and his fighting spirit. He manage to keep Terunofuji from achieving a grip for an impressively long stretch of time, attacking fiercely and disrupting everything the Yokozuna tried. but Terunofuji has acres of patience these days, and waited for his chance. It came, he grappled Takakeisho, and gave him a yoritaoshi. Terunofuji improves to 10-3.