The tournament grinds on through act 1, and its becoming clear that this is once again Hakuho’s basho to lose. But surprisingly, his deshi Ishiura is keeping pace. Granted this is only day 3, but Ishiura has had a remarkable start. There was a time 2 years ago where he was little more than a self propelled henka delivery machine, and his sumo was about as exciting as a gardening show on YouTube. But it seems that maybe his work with Enho as a direct competitor has driven him to new levels of performance, and we are enjoying it throughly. Speaking of Enho, his equally dismissal 0-3 start is starting to be alarming. There were reports of him nursing an injury from Osaka, and that would explain his flagging performance. Or maybe its the second basho with now fans to cheer him on that has robbed him of his power to win matches. We hope whatever it is, he returns to form soon.
Kotoeko (2-1) defeats Chiyomaru (1-2) Oshidashi – Chiyomaru blasted Kotoeko at the tachiai, and frankly I thought he would just fall down in place. I am sometimes amazed at just how fast and powerful Chiyomaru is, he does more than a little to cultivate the notion of a harmless, jolly fat guy. Sure, he has a blubbery coating, but the interior seems to be 100% terminator. But at the moment that Chiyomaru (or shall we call him a Chi-1000?) moves to finish the match, Kotoeko steps deftly to his left, puts his hands on Chiyomaru’s expansive belly and shoves for all he’s worth.
Kotoshoho (1-2) defeats Terunofuji (0-3) Yorikiri – Its breaking my heart to see Terunofuji start 0-3. I worried he would be a big shaky with almost no practice, but he seems to now be struggling mentally as well. Terunofuji got a right hand inside grip at the tachiai, and forced Kotoshoho to work to gain any sort of advantage. Kotoshoho reversed into a Terunofuji pivot and found himself with a working grip, and an oblique angle to Terunofuji. Turned partially to the side, Terunofuji was unable to offer much forward pressure to stop Kotoshoho’s advance, and he went out for his third straight loss.
Wakatakakage (2-1) defeats Kotoyuki (2-1) Yorikiri – Kotoyuki picks up his first loss of the basho when his opening gambit goes flat. Kotoyuki got in first at the tachiai, but focused both hands on Wakatakakage’s face and neck, while Wakatakakage drove forward and inside, finding a hold. Kotoyuki countered with a pivot, but found he could not break Wakatakakage’s left hand grip. That move gave Wakatakakage a chance to improve his hold, and it was a fast trip across the tawara for Wakatakakage’s second win.
Nishikigi (2-1) defeats Kotoshogiku (2-1) Oshidashi – We finally get to see Nishikigi employ that double arm bar hold against Kotoshogiku, though it placed him at risk of Kotoshogiku’s favorite mode of attack. The Kyushu Bulldozer lowered the blade and went to work, but could not muster the power to put Nishikigi over the tawara, and Nishikigi rallied to thrust Kotoshogiku out.
Takayasu (3-0) defeats Shohozan (1-2) Yorikiri – I am getting terribly excited about Takayasu now, as he has picked up his 3rd win, and truly seems to be able to work through whatever lingering problems he may have with his left elbow, and whatever happened to his knees during Osaka. Takayasu delivered a right shoulder blast to Shohozan’s face, and the two immediately began training windmill blows to each other’s upper bodies. Shohozan was getting the worse of punishment, and went left hand inside, taking Takayasu to his chest, but Shohozan managed to latch onto Takayasu’s left hand, twisting and pinning the injured arm to his belly. An attempt at a pull down from Shohozan freed up Takayasu’s left hand, and his lethal weapon found its mark. Trapped in a giant, hairy battle-hug. Shohozan twisted and writhed to find any escape, but Takayasu advanced with power to put him over the bales. Impressive 3-0 start for the former Ozeki.
Sadanoumi (2-1) defeats Kotonowaka (0-3) Yorikiri – Kotonowaka has a lot of useable mass, but I worry his tachiai is almost Shodai soft. He barely got his hands off the ground before Sadanoumi was latched onto Kotonowaka’s sky blue mawashi. With a left hand inside grip, Sadanoumi stood Kotonowaka up. Kotonowaka countered with a powerful right hand thrust to the side of Sadanoumi’s head, sending him off balance, but that left hand grip held. With Kotonowaka disrupted by his failed throw attempt, Sadanoumi landed the right hand inside, and with morozashi, lifted and propelled Kotonowaka over the tawara.
Shimanoumi (3-0) defeats Myogiryu (1-2) Hatakikomi – A drawn out test of stamina, both rikishi were amazingly low at the tachiai, but Shimanoumi was a half step faster. Both men went for a left hand inside grip, and pushed and grappled for advantage for over a minute, wearing each other down. Twice they broke contact, just to lock up yet again. Losing stamina, Myogiryu was leaning forward as the two were chest to chest in the center of the dohyo as the match passed just over a minute. Shimanoumi had his right arm wrapped around Myogiryu’s left arm, with the left hand having a deep inside grip. It looked like Myogiryu was working to set up a throw, when Shimanoumi’s release forward pressure and pulled Myogiryu to the clay. Shimanoumi starts the basho 3-0.
Tochinoshin (1-2) defeats Kaisei (1-2) Yorikiri – We hear a sigh of relief from Europe as former Ozeki Tochinoshin picks up his first win of the tournament. Kaisei put all of his effort into blocking Tochinoshin’s left hand outside grip, but left himself wide open for a shallow right hand / frontal grip. As Kaisei worked to set up an offensive position, Tochinoshin got his left hand seated, and found the strength in his knees to advance. Very happy to see him get a win.
Chiyotairyu (2-1) defeats Tamawashi (1-2) Hatakikomi – If you are fighting Chiyotairyu, you always have to be on guard for him to stand you up with a blast at the tachiai, and immediately slap you down. This worked flawlessly against Tamawashi who was driving for an inside position to move the big Kokenoe man around, but Chiyotairyu’s sudden release of forward pressure sealed Tamawashi’s fate, giving him his second consecutive loss.
Ishiura (3-0) defeats Ikioi (0-3) Yorikiri – It’s obvious that elbow is not doing well. Today’s match against Ishiura was a lesson in how grim determination keeps Ikioi in a tournament when he might just as well be in an orthopedic ward. Ikioi put a lot of energy into the tachiai, which rocked Ishiura back on his heels, but Ishiura managed to shift the follow through, leaving Ikioi off angle with his opponent. Ishiura latched on to that injured right arm and gave it a solid twist. Likely ultimately painful, but it opened Ikioi’s chest, and Ishura dug in. Lower than Ikioi with a solid left hand grip, there was little the injured Ikioi could do to stop Ishiura’s advance. Ishiura starts the basho with a surprising 3-0.
Ryuden (2-1) defeats Terutsuyoshi (1-2) Oshidashi – We were waiting for the first Ryuden matta fest, but Terutsuyoshi started this round. No fewer than 3 matta before the two finally got underway, and I do think that Konosuke was mad enough to eat his gumbai. Ryuden connected a left shoulder to Terutsuyoshi’s face at the tachiai, opening a cut above his right eye. In spite of his inside position, Ryuden contained him, shut down his offense and sent him flying across the east side tawara.
Tokushoryu (3-0) defeats Enho (0-3) Uwatenage – It takes a lot of guts to drop your hands at the tachiai against a big man like Tokushoryu. But Enho seems to have wagered he could get in beneath that giant belly and find a grip. Instead what he got was a meaty arm against his chest and a quick trip to the clay. I am not sure if I am more surprised by Tokushoryu’s 3-0 start or Enho’s 0-3.
Aoiyama (1-2) defeats Abi (1-2) Hatakikomi – With Abi already aiming high at the tachiai, it’s a simple move for Big Dan to stand him up and swat him down. Of course it takes size, strength and determination to whether the unrelenting facial assault you will receive while you set that up, but it makes the results no less glorious. I have to image Abi is going to get it in gear shortly. The lack of sparring in the last 8 weeks seems to have really left him struggling.
Hokutofuji (2-1) defeats Kagayaki (2-1) Oshidashi – I really like both of these guy’s sumo, so it’s a highlight for me any time they fight. The first half of this match was all Kagayaki, and it seemed that Hokutofuji could not make anything stick. But once Kagayaki put Hokutofuji’s heels on the tawara, Hokutofuji battled back with fierce determination, putting all of his energy into Kagayaki’s body. Shame the couldn’t both win.
Daieisho (2-1) defeats Takarafuji (1-2) Kotenage – Daieisho opened with a well placed nodowa, and that really set the tone for the match. Takarafuji eventually broke the choke hold, but his body was wide open for Daieisho to hook the arm inside and unleash the throw. Luckily it didn’t look like it injured Takarafuji.
Mitakeumi (2-1) defeats Onosho (0-3) Hatakikomi – I am glad we are getting these tadpole battles out of the way early, as they worry me. It surprises no one that Onosho was too far forward at the tachiai, or that Mitakeumi exploded it with pinpoint precision. I does surprise me that Onosho has started 0-3 for the tournament, but he does tend to go on hot / cold streaks. I hope he can regroup and start to rack up the wins.
Shodai (2-1) defeats Kiribayama (1-2) Uwatenage – A crappy tachiai from Shodai seemed to signal this was going to be Kiribayama’s match, but Shodai managed to sacrifice power at the start for a left hand inside grip just under Kiribayama’s arm. It seems Kiribayama knew he had trouble at once, and worked to circle away, but only managed to let Shodai get a right hand mawashi grip at Kiribayama’s waist. As Kiribayama rushed forward, Shodai pivoted to his left and dropped Kiribayama like a bag of sand. Solid “plan B” from Shodai today.
Asanoyama (2-1) defeats Endo (0-3) Yorikiri – I worry that the pasting Endo took from Hakuho on day 2 may have rattled Endo, as I think that these two should have been a closer fight. I certainly did not expect Endo to finish day 3 at 3-0. Endo had the better tachiai, he was lower, but could not land his desired frontal grip. Impressive to see him immediately go to a backup attack, pressing Asanoyama’s arms together and advancing strongly. But that left Endo wide open for Asanoyama to break out, and land a left hand outside grip. From there it was like looking at some Edo period wood block print of two powerful men locked in battle. Asanoyama had the advantage, and as he backed to the tawara, Endo tried a rescue throw, but could not get the pivot started before Asanoyama’s body plowed him down.
Takakeisho (2-1) defeats Okinoumi (0-3) Oshidashi – Takakeisho stood Okinoumi up at the tachiai, with both hands under an armpit each. Okinoumi took a big step back to give him room to recover, but Takakeisho kept up the pressure, and kept his hands driving into the tender flesh underneath the arms. Moving strongly away, Okinoumi moved to deflect Takakeisho’s advance, but found himself shoved over the bales for his 3rd straight loss.
Takanosho (3-0) defeats Kakuryu (2-1) Oshidashi – One of the challenges of Kakuryu’s reactive sumo is that it relies on your opponent being to eager to finish the match, and rushing into false openings the Yokozuna tends to present. I saw Kakuryu give Takanosho at least 2 chances to “finish him” but Takanosho took his time, and was almost toying with the Yokozuna. In the end, Kakuryu ran out of ring to play with, and found himself forced out by a well timed blast by Takanosho, scoring not just a win, but Takanosho’s first kinboshi.
Hakuho (3-0) defeats Yutakayama (1-2) Uwatenage – Does Hakuho get bored with unleashing uwatenage? I don’t get tired of watching him do it, even when its against favorites like “Big Unit” Yutakayama. Hakuho still seems to enjoy beating rikishi with their “own brand of sumo”, and today he traded blows with Yutakayama, giving better than he received. There was a moment when Yutakayama rallied and got both hands inside and around Hakuho’s chest, but this only signaled to the dai-Yokozuna that play time was over, and he set up the throw. The kimarite is listed as Uwatenage, but Hakuho only got it half executed before Yutakayama collapsed, with Hakuho landing on top of him.