As Bruce would say, Act Three is upon us. It’s been a long time coming but we are now in the final stages of the July tournament. We’ve got quite the horse race with
Secretariat Hakuho out in front chased by Asanoyama and Terunofuji. Terunofuji’s early success here reminds me of Ichinojo’s debut run. I’m eager to see how far he can take it. Asanoyama’s form, with the one weak performance against Mitakeumi, has been excellent. The three champions start Day 11 in fine form.
Nishikigi (4-6) defeated Chiyoshoma: Chiyoshoma-induced matta meant a henka was coming. Nishikigi snuffed it out but appeared to go down first as Chiyoshoma pulled while Nishikigi dove into Chiyoshoma. Mono-ii. Nishikigi was shown to be driving Chiyoshoma out and Chiyoshoma touched down outside. Oshidashi. This is the rule set we’re used to.
Wakatakakage (6-4) defeated Chiyomaru (3-7): Chiyomaru-induced matta Wakatakakage drove Chiyomaru back immediately. Chiyomaru tried a trip at the bales but missed. Wakatakakage continued to apply pressure to Chiyomaru’s shoulders, and drove him up and over the bales. Yorikiri.
Terunofuji (9-1) defeated Tochinoshin (6-4): Dramatic staredown, and immediate engagement on the belt at the tachiai for both men. A stalemate at the center of the ring as each man’s attempts to get momentum started was met with fierce resistance. Tochinoshin applied Sky Crane power and backed Terunofuji half-way to the tawara before Terunofuji could stop their progress. Tochinoshin let go with the left to try a throw at the edge but Terunofuji pivoted, maintained pressure on Tochinoshin and walked an exhausted Tochinoshin over the bales. Yorikiri. What else?
Shimanoumi (3-8) defeated Shohozan (2-9): Shohozan kept Shimanoumi off the belt but Shimanoumi continued to advance, ushering Shohozan over the tawara and out. Shohozan was perhaps a bit preoccupied with trying to mold Shimanoumi’s face like Play-Doh rather than actually advancing his position. Oshidashi.
Kotoyuki (5-6) defeated Myogiryu (7-4): Kotoyuki advanced from the tachiai, Myogiryu in retreat. Myogiryu continued to rotate to his right but Kotoyuki stayed right with him, paddling Myogiryu over the edge. Tsukidashi.
Kotoeko (8-3) defeated Ikioi (2-9): Ikioi solid on the tachiai, drove Kotoeko back a step but Kotoeko applied pressure to Ikioi shoving Ikioi to the edge. As soon as Kotoeko got a hand on Ikioi’s belt, he was able to get the leverage to raise Ikioi over the edge. Yorikiri.
Tamawashi (8-3) defeated Kotoshoho (7-4): Kotoshoho abandoned any attempt at a yotsu battle, engaging in a slapfest, and advancing to the edge. An ill-timed pull attempt from Kotoshoho. Tamawashi followed, driving forward through the Sadogatake beya youngster. Tsukitaoshi.
Takayasu (6-5) defeated Chiyotairyu (5-6): Takayasu with a shoulder blast at the tachiai, tried once to grab Chiyotairyu’s belt with the left but was denied. A powerful blast to the face from the former Ozeki sent Chiyotairyu into reverse. Takayasu pursued, driving Chiyotairyu over the bales. Tsukidashi.
Sadanoumi (5-6) defeated Ishiura (4-7): Sadanoumi off-balance, matta. Sadanoumi strong with the tachiai, slid Ishiura back. A well timed pull, with the right-handed force down on Ishiura’s traps forced Sadanoumi to the floor. Hatakikomi.
Kaisei (5-6) defeated Tokushoryu (6-5): Superior balance from Kaisei today. Tokushoryu advanced only to attempt pulls but Kaisei was wise to Tokushoryu’s strategy so he maintained his balance during each attack. Tokushoryu tired after a few laps around the ring and Kaisei was able to drive Tokushoryu out. Yorikiri.
Kotoshogiku (8-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (5-6): Terutsuyoshi met Kotoshogiku head on but Kotoshogiku overwhelmed Terutsuyoshi with his power. He pivoted Terutsuyoshi north and drove through. No gabburi needed, just solid footwork. One foot in front of the other bulldozed Terutsuyoshi until he was over the edge. Yorikiri.
Ryuden (5-6) defeated Onosho (0-11): Onosho woke up, with a strong tachiai bloodies Ryuden’s nose and forced him back. Ryuden shifts a bit to his left but Onosho maintained pressure moving forward. As soon as Ryuden reached the bales, Onosho attempted a throw. This was a huge mistake as it allowed Ryuden to come back to the center of the ring. Ryuden with a forceful pull of his own, hands shoved on the back of Onosho’s head, and drove Onosho to the dirt. Hatakikomi.
Enho (5-6) defeated Takanosho (5-6): Matta from Takanosho. Enho got the jump after the reset, catching Takanosho unprepared. He drove his shoulder into Takanosho and thought about a belt grip but didn’t need it. With his leverage from below, he drove Takanosho up and out of balance. Once Tananosho’s momentum was in reverse, he could not get a solid grip on the dohyo, Enho shoving Takanosho out. Oshidashi.
Aoiyama (4-7) defeated Yutakayama (1-10): What? Aoiyama on the belt — voluntarily? What the hell was that? Yutakayama had the advantage at the tachiai. Powerful thrusts forced Aoiyama back to the bales but get this. Aoiyama secured a solid left-hand grip on Yutakayama’s belt, and with a right forearm in Yutakayama’s chest drove Yutakayama back. Aoiyama has lost more than twice as many yorikiri bouts as he’s won. But he’s got a solid yotsu win here. Do that from now on! Yorikiri.
Endo (5-6) defeated Kiribayama (4-7): A shift by Kiribayama but Endo stayed upright and pursued Kiribayama. Kiribayama drove forward into Endo, Endo sliding back, halfway to the tawara. But sensing Kiribayama is out of control, Endo thrusts down hard on Kiribayama’s back, once, twice, thrice, and Kiribayama is down. Endo wins an oshi battle with Kiribayama. Am I still asleep? It’s 4:30am here so it’s quite possible I’m still dreaming but I’ll roll with it. Tsukitotoshi.
Okinoumi (6-5) defeated Takarafuji (4-7): Okinoumi with a strong tachiai, got Takarafuji back a step. Both men with solid holds of their opponent. Takarafuji with a right-hand grip on the belt while Okinoumi has his right firmly on Takarafuji’s torso. Takarafuji drove forward and a well-timed pull from Okinoumi paired with a strong shove down sent Takarafuji to the clay. Tsukiotoshi.
Hokutofuji (7-4) defeated Shodai (8-3): Hokutofuji’s strong charge into Shodai who’s back to his less-than-impressive tachiai. Shodai drove forward with Hokutofuji circling in retreat to his right, with his left elbow connecting with Shodai’s head as he pulled. Shodai driven down by Hokutofuji as he reached the edge, trying to force out Hokutofuji. But Hokutofuji was still standing in the dohyo when Shodai went down. Tsukiotoshi.
Asanoyama (10-1) defeated Kagayaki (4-7): Kagayaki thrust his right arm into Asanoyama’s face but the Ozeki powered forward. He secured his left arm under Kagayaki’s right arm pit and got Kagayaki going back to the Ozeki’s right. Once Asanoyama got his right arm in there, too, Kagayaki was toast. Yorikiri.
Takakeisho (8-3) defeated Mitakeumi (8-3): Mitakeumi was ready but Takakeisho rolling his head around didn’t want to go yet. Takakeisho drove forward, Mitakeumi in retreat pushing down on Takakeisho’s back. No mono-ii? The version of the rule book omitting the bit about “first one to touch down loses”, is still apparently in the officials’ hands. Takakeisho benefits from it, yet again. Mitakeumi was dead when he jumped back, despite the fact that he was simultaneously forcing Takakeisho’s head down. Oshidashi.
Daieisho (7-4) defeated Hakuho (10-1): Hakuho is mortal. Hakuho wanted to pull, going for a hatakikomi at the tachiai but his right foot looked a bit out of control, splayed out far from his body as he nearly slipped. He recovered and drove forward into Daieisho, securing (momentarily) a right-hand belt grip under Daieisho’s mawashi but Daieisho deftly rolled his left shoulder and stepped back, slipping behind the boss. Uh-oh. The Yokozuna circled back around to try to regain the offensive but Daieisho had pounced, driving Hakuho back and out. Oshidashi.
A wry smile from Hakuho and he stopped by the video monitors on the way out to see the replay. He will not want to make the same mistake as we now have a three-man race for the title: Hakuho, Asanoyama & Terunofuji. Three popular champions will duke it out in Act Three. And I’m sure we’ll have more to discuss about dead men.