The big story coming into today is that Asanoyama will make his return to the dohyo, coming back from injury. He will face Takakeisho today and certainly not have an easy go of things for Week 2. His goal is probably to slow his fall down the banzuke as much as he can. If he picks up four or even five wins, that would be an excellent tournament for him. With some banzuke luck, he may not even fall but a few ranks. The worst case would be to come back and go on a massive losing streak, aggravate his injuries, and still tumble to the bottom of Makuuchi.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a lot of other action here. Kotonowaka had a great first week, looking for yusho and Ozeki promotion. But then Ura stepped to the plate. After fighting Shodai tonight, he will face the most difficult stretch of his schedule, the Ozeki. Meanwhile, those Ozeki are all trying to stay in this yusho race. Any slip-ups will make it that much more difficult.
Let’s get to the action.
Kitanowaka (4-4) defeated Aoiyama (5-3). Aoiyama makes his brief return to Makuuchi felt with a brutal nodowa. Kitanowaka drove forward through it and Aoiyama backed up with a slow pull, slapdown attempt. Unfortunately for him, he stepped out before Kitanowaka fell. Gunbai Kitanowaka. No mono-ii. Yorikiri.
Churanoumi (6-2) defeated Tomokaze (5-3). Tomokaze did his best blocking sled impression today, allowing Churanoumi to drive him back to the edge. He put his hand up behind Churanoumi’s head for a slapdown but the attempt was ineffective. Churanoumi just pushed him out. Oshidashi.
Ichiyamamoto (7-1) defeated Takarafuji (2-6). Straight-forward Ichi-zumo. Takarafuji’s defense/counter attack was to press forward on Ichiyamamoto’s arms. He pressed Ichiyamamoto to the edge but Ichiyamamoto was able to use the bales to brace and press forward again. Then he thrust down Takarafuji to the side for the win. Tsukiotoshi.
Oho (4-4) defeated Roga (2-6). Oho pulled and pressed down on Roga’s shoulder. Roga stumbled forward to the edge. He collected himself briefly but Oho followed up and pushed him out. Oshidashi
Oho will face Tomokaze on Day 9.
Tamawashi (6-2) defeated Tohakuryu (2-6). Tamawashi blasted Tohakuryu about the head and face. He was able to advance and press Tohakuryu the tawara but unable to drive him over the bales. This is where Tamawashi unleashed his second attack, step inside and wrap up the closest arm (in this case Tohakuryu’s right). He got his arm under the armpit, locked in an armbar and then yanked backward and down. Kotenage.
All eyes will be on Tamawashi vs Ichiyamamoto. Ichiyamamoto is setting the yusho pace. But Tamawashi is in a group of nine guys, one loss behind. Tohakuryu will face Takarafuji in a first-time matchup.
Sadanoumi (5-3) defeated Nishikifuji (2-6). Sadanoumi attempted to end Nishikifuji’s day with a sotogake, shortly after locking him up at the tachiai. The trip made Nishikifuji lose balance and stumble backward under the sustained yotsu pressure from Sadanoumi. Sadanoumi kept advancing and forced Nishikifuji out and down. Yoritaoshi.
Nishikifuji will be happy to face the Juryo visitor tomorrow, Kotoshoho.
Hiradoumi (5-3) defeated Tsurugisho (3-5). Hiradoumi with a matta. Reset. Bad knee or not, Tsurugisho can still put a lot of force into his tachiai. The evidence is the way Hiradoumi’s head snapped back. Tsurugisho seized upon the advantage and drove forward. When Hiradoumi resisted, he twisted left and right to try to throw him down. But Hiradoumi remained upright. As he drove back into Tsurugisho, eventually he got enough pressure going to force Tsurugisho back and out. Yorikiri.
Hiradoumi will face Roga in their first meeting; Tsurugisho will face Kitanowaka.
Endo (2-6) defeated Kotoeko (2-6). Endo rotated left and twisted Kotoeko to the floor. After such a terrible start, Endo has now caught up with the likes of Takarafuji, Roga, and Nishikifuji with two wins. Uwatehineri.
Endo will take on Churanoumi in another first-time bout.
Ryuden (6-2) defeated Hokuseiho (3-5). Does Hokuseiho know what ottsuke is? He never made any attempt to prevent Ryuden from latching onto his belt or grabbing anywhere. This allowed Ryuden to try all sorts of holds, with and without the belt grip. The successful strategy was for Ryuden to grasp Hokuseiho at the armpits and force Hokuseiho to stand tall, then use his right to whip him forward to the clay. Shitatedashinage.
Hokuseiho will face Kotoeko. This will be a fun one. I do not think Kotoeko will allow for a 4-minute “lean.”
Mitakeumi (4-4) defeated Shonannoumi (5-3). Mitakeumi drove forward and forced Shonannoumi out. Shonannoumi tried to execute his swim move and force Mitakeumi to the side by pressing on his left arm but Mitakeumi kept Shonannoumi centered. Yorikiri.
Atamifuji (6-2) defeated Takanosho (3-5). Atamifuji wrapped up Takanosho’s right arm in an armbar and rolled right, bringing Takanosho down at the edge. Kotenage.
Takanosho will face Ryuden on Day 9.
Kinbozan (4-4) defeated Onosho (2-6). Kinbozan pressed forward to absorb Onosho’s advance, and then pulled and twisted left. Onosho ended up in a heap. Tsukiotoshi.
Kinbozan will have his hands full with Sadanoumi and Onosho will face Atamifuji for the first time.
Midorifuji (6-2) defeated Myogiryu (3-5). Midorifuji wrapped up Myogiryu by holding on, high at the armpits. This is the source of his usual katasukashi. As he pulled on that left shoulder, he rotated, and threw Myogiryu to the ground. This turned his katasukashi into a sukuinage.
Midorifuji will take on Mitakeumi; Myogiryu will face Shonannoumi.
Tobizaru (3-5) defeated Meisei (1-7). Tobizaru pulled on Meisei’s right arm, and thrust him forward and down. Tsukiotoshi.
Takayasu (5-3) defeated Ura (2-6). While Ura drove forward, Takayasu thrust his head up and back. As the pair neared the tawara, Takayasu pulled Ura’s head forward and forced him to the ground before tumbling off the dohyo himself. Gunbai Takayasu, no mono-ii. Hatakikomi. Ura wanted a review but it was a good call. Replay made it clear.
Takayasu will fight Tobizaru tomorrow.
Abi (3-5) defeated Daieisho (5-3). Daieisho slammed forward into Abi. Abi twisted at the bales and let Daieisho fall into the crowd. Gunbai Abi. Hikiotoshi.
Abi will face Ura.
Shodai (4-4) defeated Kotonowaka (6-2). Shodai on the attack is a sight to behold. He braved Kotonowaka’s nodowa. Simple misdirection was not going to draw Kotonowaka out so he advanced into Kotonowaka and grasped his right arm. He then slung Kotonowaka back to the bales and drove Kotonowaka out. Yorikiri.
Gonoyama (4-4) defeated Wakamotoharu (3-5). Gonoyama was all offense today. His nodowa pressed Wakamotoharu back to the edge. Gonoyama followed up with a simple push out. Oshidashi. Wakamotoharu had nothing today and picked up his fifth loss, with the meat of his schedule remaining. His three wins are against Meisei, Ura, and Tobizaru. There aren’t any small guys left. He will not remain at the rank of Sekiwake for long.
Gonoyama will face Meisei. Wakamotoharu will fight Daieisho.
Asanoyama (1-0-7) defeated Takakeisho (5-3). Asanoyama absorbed Takakeisho’s attack. As Takakeisho blasted away, Asanoyama came back, looking for that left-hand grip. Takakeisho fell first. Gunbai Asanoyama. Mono-ii confirmed the call on the field. Shitatenage. They may have been checking for a hairpull, too?
Nishikigi (6-2) defeated Hoshoryu (6-2). Nishikigi allowed Hoshoryu to slam into him and drive him back to the edge. That’s where he launched his counter attack and shifted right and pressed down on the Ozeki. Hoshoryu took a knee. Kotenage.
Nishikigi will fight Takakeisho. Hoshoryu will take on Kotonowaka in the musubi-no-ichiban.
Kirishima (6-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-6). Yotsu-zumo from Hokutofuji? Interesting. He did well. He wrapped up the Ozeki and drove forward. His mistake was losing his grip of Kirishima while putting the full force of his body into his throw attempt. The follow through allowed Kirishima to get behind him and run him out the other side of the ring.
Kirishima will face Asanoyama and Hokutofuji will face Shodai.
It is tempting to say that Takakeisho’s rope run ended here but Hoshoryu and Kotonowaka also lost. The bar for this yusho probably went down a peg. Takakeisho is still very much in this and we will probably have another 12-3 yusho or maybe even another 11-win yusho. To prevent that, someone is going to need to win out and I don’t have a name who I think can, or will, do that. Do you?
Ichiyamamoto is alone in front with one loss. But he has been fighting minnows at the bottom of Makuuchi and will have a very tough time against Tamawashi tomorrow. If he remains in front after facing the 39-year-old former champion, the Kyokai could start to move him up to face stiffer competition.
But the fact of the matter is, it is still early and the Kyokai also have the fore-mentioned Tamawashi, as well as Ryuden, Midorifuji, and Atamifuji in this yusho race with two losses. My guess would be the five of the low rankers would start getting matched up. If one of them is 9-2 or 10-2 next week, a quick visit into sanyaku will result in either easy chum for the sharks, or another hiramaku title.
Lots of bouts to look forward to tomorrow as the sanyaku begin to cannibalize themselves. Kotonowaka vs Hoshoryu will drop someone from the yusho race. Asanoyama looked fresh and focused today. He’ll need that focus against a beatable Kirishima.
Given all of this, you get to pick one wrestler as a favorite to win all of their remaining seven matches. Who would you pick? Other than Asanoyama, of course. That would just be hilarious. He comes in on nakabi and still gets kachi-koshi? Forget men on white horses, an Asanoyama kachi-koshi would be a sign of the Apocalypse.