In this odd tournament with few fans and no yokozuna, there have been few rikishi stepping up to take the mantle. As we head into the middle weekend, everyone has found the dirt at least once. There’s no obvious front-runner. All of those prospective Ozeki runs rest on a razor’s edge while several rikishi at the bottom of the banzuke find themselves at the top of the table.
Today offers us fans a study in pulling techniques: when to try, and when not to. For those who are beyond such a base strategy, though, today’s action did provide a few choice moments of great sumo and a bit of drama. Read to the end. It’s worth it.
Kotoyuki defeated Shohozan (0-7): You know things are going poorly for Shohozan when he henkas Juryo visitor, Kotoyuki. Kotoyuki was unfazed and bludgeoned Shohozan repeatedly in outrage, driving Shohozan back to the edge, where Shohozan fell forward. Hikiotoshi.
Meisei (4-3) defeated Ichinojo (4-3): Ichinojo never got his feet planted as Meisei drove forward with a strong tachiai, driving Ichinojo back and out. Ichinojo was way too high at the initial charge and tried to envelope Meisei’s arms for a kimedashi but that just handed Meisei a strong morozashi, with momentum and superior position. Yorikiri.
Shimanoumi (4-3) defeated Kaisei (2-5): Shimanoumi patiently waited out Kaisei’s fumbling. After a nice initial charge, Kaisei fumbled with his right hand for a belt grip. Shimanoumi shoved Kaisei off but Kaisei moved in again for a belt grip. Shimanoumi pushed Kaisei’s hand away and drove forward, putting Kaisei in retreat and gaining some separation. As Kaisei reached the edge, Shimanoumi pivoted and Kaisei stumbled forward. Shimanoumi re-engaged from below and with Kaisei standing upright at the tawara, it was all over. Oshidashi.
Kotoshoho (6-1) defeated Hoshoryu (3-4): Kotoshoho’s perfect pull was decisive as Hoshoryu fell first. No mono-ii. Hoshoryu was puzzled as to how he lost but Kotoshoho’s initial charge drove Hoshoryu back just enough to give him space to execute the hated pull. His hand, firmly on Hoshoryu’s head and feet planted firmly in the tawara, Kotoshoho guided Hoshoryu to the ground without stepping out. Tsukiotoshi.
Tobizaru (6-1) defeated Chiyotairyu (5-2): The tachiai descended into a wild brawl of charging and slapping. Tobizaru dove for Chiyotairyu’s mawashi and secured a right-handed belt grip. With the left on Chiyotairyu’s top-knot, he twisted and threw Sumo’s Elvis to the floor. Shitatedashinage.
Kotoshogiku (2-2-3) defeated Enho (1-6): Kotoshogiku wrangled the struggling Enho in the middle of the dohyo. Enho secured a belt grip at the tachiai and tried to drive forward but Kotoshogiku just dropped all of his weight down on Enho, forcing the pixie’s knee to buckle awkwardly. Koshikudake.
I’m a bit worried about the way that right knee twisted, but Enho seemed to walk it off. I’ve always wondered what it would look like if someone decided to squish Enho. Now we know. If Giku can squeak out three more wins, he may just save his rank. Enho, on the other hand, may join Ishiura in Juryo unless he can turn things around quickly. Perhaps fortunate for both men, there appears to be more men ready to flee makuuchi for the safety of Juryo than there are eager promotees.
Wakatakakage (5-2) defeated Kotoeko (3-4): Wakatakakage henka’d Kotoeko. He tried to pull Kotoeko down for the hatakikomi but Kotoeko kept his footing. However, Kotoeko seemed perplexed as to how to attack this man who moved over so suddenly. While Kotoeko tried to figure things out, Wakatakakage charged forward and blasted Kotoeko off the back of the dohyo. Oshidashi.
Ryuden (3-4) defeated Sadanoumi (2-5): Ryuden was having none of Sadanoumi’s pulling. He charged forward steadily as Sadanoumi circled in retreat. Ryuden kept up with Sadanoumi and his shove forced Sadanoumi to lose his footing and fall to the clay. Oshitaoshi.
Kagayaki (5-2) defeated Onosho (5-2): Bruce’s worries about an Onosho slump are well founded. Kagayaki got the jump on the tachiai, forcing Onosho back. But Onosho rallied at the tawara, driving forward into Kagayaki. However, as the back-pedaling Kagayaki neared the edge he drove his left arm forcefully into Onosho’s right side, throwing Onosho to the clay. Tsukiotoshi.
Takayasu (5-2), no, wait, Aoiyama defeated Aoiyama (3-4): Big Dan stepped out. This is the ultimate, sad danger of the pull when you step back too far and lose. Aoiyama absorbed Takayasu’s tachiai and pulled backwards. Takayasu’s forward charge wasn’t particularly strong and should have been easily defeated. But Aoiyama’s big left foot had gone over the bales. Oshidashi.
Takarafuji (5-2) defeated Tokushoryu (1-6): Bruce is right, Tokushoryu’s out of ideas. Tokushoryu’s entire game plan was to pull. After a decent tachiai, he gave it his first attempt for hatakikomi but Takarafuji was not falling for it. This yielded position and forced Tokushoryu back to the edge. Uncle Takara reached in for a firm right-hand grip. As Tokushoryu pulled again, Takarafuji drove forward and Tokushoryu rolled over. Yoritaoshi.
Kiribayama (5-2) defeated Hokutofuji (2-5): Kiribayama sidestepped the tachiai. No bother, Hokutofuji drove forward into Kiribayama. Kiribayama’s twisted at the edge and with his left hand on the mawashi and right arm in Hokutofuji’s side, he threw Hokutofuji down. Sukuinage.
Takanosho (4-3) defeated Myogiryu (3-4): Takanosho weathered Myogiryu’s nodowa, and drove forward. Myogiryu launched for a belt grab but Takanosho deflected him with the right arm. This gave Takanosho the advantage as he came at Myogiryu’s right side and shoved Myogiryu out. Oshidashi.
Terunofuji (5-2) defeated Endo (3-4): Ready for a brawl, right? LOL. Migi-yotsu vs Hidari-yotsu. I gotta say, I was ready for a great belt battle but Terunofuji had other plans and, “Wow”. Terunofuji wrapped up Endo’s arm, spun him around and cast him from the dohyo in the blink of an eye. It was brilliant!
At the tachiai, Terunofuji had his sights on that right arm of Endo. He came up with his right, immediately, ensnaring Endo’s arm. Once he secured it, he shifted to his right, twisting Endo around, still holding Endo’s arm behind him. While Endo’s still trying to figure out why he’s facing the wrong way, Terunofuji propelled him forward, off the ring and halfway back to Saitama. Okuridashi.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Isegahama had a higher goal in mind for Terunofuji…not just a return to Ozeki. He’d be able to rest his knees on occasion with a nice tsuna, that’s for sure. I think this is the first time that I’m taken aback more so by the brilliant tactics than his brute force. This was no sea monster, meting destruction. This was Dr. Kaiju, dissecting his opponent and flaying him for all to see. In the 9 second clip, half of it is Endo running down the aisle. The bout itself was over in three seconds.
Tochinoshin (3-4) defeated Daieisho (2-5): I’m pretty sure I saw the kitchen sink get thrown across the screen during this bout. Watch for it on the replay. What didn’t we have in this bout? We had a bit of oshi/tsuki and a bit of yotsu. This was a rough-and-tumble brawl as both men tried to out-pull each other. It seemed that since both men had the same game plan, neither of them were falling for it. Tochinoshin delivered several great blows as he showed he can do tsuppari quite well. Though his knee is weakened, his stamina is strong. When Daieisho tired, Tochinoshin was finally able to step in for that belt grip and usher the Oitekaze’s faltering hope over the straw bales. Yorikiri.
Tamawashi (3-4) defeated Mitakeumi (4-3): Tamawashi may have ended Mitakeumi’s Ozeki run. Mitake who-me? Why in the hell would Mitakeumi try a hatakikomi pull from his own side of the ring? Why? Tamawashi met Mitakeumi with a solid tachiai and drove forward, forcing Mitakeumi back deep into his own side of the dohyo. Mitakeumi did charge forward and try to get some separation but he had nowhere near the space required for a pull, so he ended up cast off among the empty purple squares. Oshidashi.
Okinoumi (2-5) defeated Shodai (5-2): Shodai drove forward into Okinoumi. Okinoumi resisted at the edge and circled back. While Shodai applied forward pressure, Okinoumi wrapped his arms around Shodai, twisted and thrust him to the floor, along with any hopes of yusho or promotion. Tsukiotoshi.
Takakeisho (6-1) defeated Yutakayama: T-Rex’s wave action was too much for Yutakayama. Both oshi-battlers fought to their strength but Yutakayama’s thrusts were unable to move Takakeisho at all. Takakeisho, however, was able to move Yutakayama around the ring, almost at will. “You go right now. Now backwards. Now down.” Oshidashi.
Yutakayama’s knee buckled awkwardly at the tawara so we’ll be watching that tomorrow. He kept it extended as he sat to watch the next bout and when he finally got up to walk back to the shitakubeya, he limped down the hanamichi. Watch this space for a kyujo. Takakeisho is now the favorite for the yusho, especially since he has already faced, and defeated, Terunofuji.
Asanoyama (4-3) defeated Terutsuyoshi (2-5): “Not again!” Terutsuyoshi went for the ashitori — again — but Asanoyama was prepared this time. When the attempt missed, Terutsuyoshi retreated and jumped off the dohyo with Asanoyama close in pursuit. Asanoyama connected with a bit of a push so it counts as oshidashi rather than what it looked like at the time, niwatori-tobikomi.