Aminishiki pulls one more rabbit out of his hat, pulling down Hokutofuji and sending him stumbling gracelessly off the dohyo. With only three wins this tournament, Aminishiki is facing a likely demotion from Maegashira 10 down to the Juryo division, so we can only hope this wasn’t his last top-division win.
Ikioi should know what’s coming, with a weakened and near-elderly Aminishiki resorting to pulling techniques nearly every day, but he still falls into the trap. The judges have a conference to check the dirt and see if Aminishiki’s heel touched the dirt on the far side of the straw, but they determine it did not. I’m always happy to see Ami-chan get a win, but Ikioi has been really disappointing this tournament.
Props to Aminishiki for hanging in there, both in this bout and in his career. He’s been defaulting to a quick pull-down attempt to start most of his bouts to make up for his declining strength, but top-division opponents are wise to the strategy and seldom fall for it anymore. Today Aminishiki perseveres after Chiyonokuni stays standing, switching gears to a pushing attack but eventually falling victim to Chiyonokuni’s own evasion. He goes down hard clutching his right knee. The pain is evident, and even the ring judge (ex-Maegashira Ushiomaru) asks if he’s ok. Here’s hoping we don’t see the end of Aminishiki.
Aminishiki is showing his age. He did a fine job working back up out of Juryo for what is probably his last hurrah in Makuuchi, but it looks like this might be his last tournament in the spotlight. We’ll see how much longer his experience and guile can make up for the loss of strength and agility. My knees hurt just watching him.
Despite a great tachiai, Aminishiki drops his first bout of the tournament and falls out of his tie for the championship. Leading with a strong right hand to the chin, Aminishiki upends Asanoyama for a moment before Asanoyama recovers with a left-arm kotenage (armlock) that he transitions into the winning overarm belt grip. Asanoyama improves to 2-4.
Daiamami, age 24, is in his twelfth professional tournament, and his first in the top division. Aminishiki, age 39, is in his hundred-twenty-fifth professional tournament, and his ninety-fifth in the top division. Looks like experience goes a long way to mitigating a set of bad knees. Aminishiki tries to gain the upper hand with a leg pick attempt right after the tachiai, but his younger, heavier opponent recovers, pushing Aminishiki all the way to the edge of the ring. A right arm high underneath Daiamiami’s left armpit gives Aminishiki just enough leverage to keep from going out. At one point he actually has both feet in the toku-dawara notch in the far side of the circle, but his knees hold up thanks in no small part to yards of support tape. As Aminishiki circles to his right, he uses that right arm to sweep Daiamami into the empty space where his body used to be with a sukuinage (beltless arm throw). His cheeks pooching out with a big exhale, Aminishiki stays perfect at 5-0. The last time Aminishiki started a tournament with five consecutive wins was March of 2015, and before that it was September of 2007. Good job, Ami-chan.