May 2017, Day 10, Kisenosato v Kotoshogiku

Yokozuna Kisenosato appears to have run out of steam, losing his second bout in a row and fourth of the tournament to former Ozeki Kotoshogiku who steamrolls him with a solid effort. ‘Giku stays alive in his hopes for a winning record, staving off the makekoshi and holding fast at 3-7. Kisenosato’s chances of a winning record look dire – in the remaining five days he’ll have to face Hakuho, Harumafuji, Goeido, Terunofuji, and Tamawashi, hoping for at least two wins against that intimidating bunch. Yikes.

May 2017, Day 9, Kisenosato v Tochiozan

Nothing fancy today, just Tochiozan getting both arms underneath Yokozuna Kisenosato’s right off the bat. Kisenosato can’t prevent Tochiozan from getting low and backing him up to the edge. If Kisenosato wants to compensate for his weak left side, he can’t let his opponent get both arms inside like that. Kise’s still doing ok at 6-3, while Tochiozan picks up another kinboshi (gold star victory over a Yokozuna from M1 or lower) and improves to 5-4.

May 2017, Day 8, Kisenosato v Aoiyama

Yokozuna Kisenosato takes on the massive Aoiyama, and finds a way to win yet again. His right-handed overarm grip slips on and off and on again, but once it’s on for good the end is nigh for Aoiyama. Kisenosato also has the left-handed underarm grip, but there’s very little strength from that injured side of his body. So he gets his hips low and keeps his bulk close and under Aoiyama’s center of gravity, wearing down Aoiyama through attrition. I would not have guessed Kisenosato would have a 6-2 record after eight days, but the pressure and responsibility of the rank of Yokozuna seem to have elevated his game. He’s performing admirably.

May 2017, Day 7, Kisenosato v Mitakeumi

Yokozuna Kisenosato gets pushed all the way to the edge of the ring by Mitakeumi, but once Kisenosato gets his heels against the tawara and fights back to the center, Mitakeumi is burned out. From there it’s a slow, steady march in stages for Kisenosato, who uses his body well to force Mitakeumi over the edge with one last push at the end. Kisenosato earns his fifth win, and Mitakeumi falls to 3-4.

May 2017, Day 6, Kisenosato v Daieisho

Yokozuna Kisenosato continues to gut out victories, crushing Daieisho with his body weight by abisetaoshi (backward force down). Kisenosato is hanging in there with a 4-2 record, and Daieisho continues to struggle against the top of the division with a record of 0-6.

May 2017, Day 5, Kisenosato v Chiyoshoma

Kisenosato is displaying the true guts of a Yokozuna, digging deep to find yet another way to win despite the weakness on his left side. Chiyoshoma attacks the Yokozuna’s belt on the left, and Kisenosato struggles to fend off the attack. After two leg trip attempts by Chiyoshoma, Kisenosato finally manages to pull his left hip back and break the grip, getting his chest squared up with his opponent and putting his stronger right arm into play. Chiyoshoma switches to the left-hand underarm grip and pulls from that side, but the Yokozuna has a right-handed grip on Chiyoshoma’s belt and the throw goes nowhere. Chiyoshoma keeps yanking with his left, but Kisenosato’s grip on a single layer of Chiyoshoma’s belt is enough to defend. The Yokozuna, now taking over, marches forward and buckles Chiyoshoma at the edge of the ring, flattening him with a yoritaoshi (front crush out). Mighty show of fortitude. Kisenosato earns his third win, tied with a multitude of other wrestlers two losses behind 5-0 tournament leaders Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Takayasu. With Yokozuna Kakuryu dropping out due to a right ankle injury, the path to the championship is still muddy.

May 2017, Day 4, Kisenosato v Endo

Endo almost falls victim to his old nemesis (his own footwork) with a slip halfway through the bout, but he catches himself with his left leg and actually ends up in an advantageous position. Nice and low and pointed straight at Yokozuna Kisenosato’s midsection, he rallies to push the injured Yokozuna over the edge and down to the floor below. Kisenosato doesn’t risk further injury by catching himself with his arms, so he topples backwards onto his padded rear and ends up three rows deep in the stands. This is Endo’s third ever kinboshi, or victory over a Yokozuna, although the first two times he achieved the feat he ended up with a losing record for those tournaments. Both men finish the day at 2-2.