Tamawashi is supremely motivated today, not wanting to drop his eighth loss and demotion from his elevated Komusubi rank, but young M5 Takakeisho has other plans. Takakeisho hits hard at the tachiai and starts slamming away with sharp tsuppari thrusts, driving Tamawashi back to the tawara in short order. One last mighty shove sends Tamawashi over the edge to a losing record, and Takakeisho’s so in the zone he finishes a few shadow shoves against the air just to wind down. With a record of 9-6 and a kinboshi win over Yokozuna Harumafuji, Takakeisho earns the Shukun-sho, or Outstanding Performance Award.
OK, now it’s time to panic. Tournament leader Ozeki Goeido drops his second bout in a row (both by slap down), putting his second-ever championship in jeopardy. Now with only two days left, a loss to Takanoiwa tomorrow or Harumafuji on the final day could see him have to fight a playoff match for the trophy (or losing both days could put him out of contention entirely). Both Yokozuna Harumafuji and top-division newcomer M16 Asanoyama are only one loss behind Goeido at 9-4. The rest of the giant four-loss field lost today, so they’re out of it unless: Harumafuji and Goeido lose tomorrow, Harumafuji beats Goeido on Day 15, and Asanoyama loses one of the next two days, which could result in a massive playoff among five-loss wrestlers the likes of which I’ve never seen. Here’s hoping!
Takakeisho sets up the same rhythm that helped him beat Yokozuna Harumafuji, but Yoshikaze turns the tables and yanks him down. Is that getting hoisted by your own petard? Yoshikaze is glad to have his eighth win under his mawashi, and Takakeisho still has a few days left to earn his makekoshi, finishing the day at 7-5.
Takakeisho earns his first kinboshi (“gold star” win over a Yokozuna), pulling off a veteran move against veteran Harumafuji. He holds his ground at the tachiai, trading slaps to the face before settling into a rhythm – slam together, separate and regroup. Four times they do this, both wrestlers trying for some kind of advantage but neither able to budge the other. On the fifth time, Takakeisho doesn’t meet Harumafuji head on. He steps slightly backwards and lets the Yokozuna stumble forward, adding a hard slap on the back to send Harumafuji into the dirt. Both men finish the day at 6-4, an excellent record for Takakeisho but a disappointment for the Yokozuna.
Ikioi’s mistake is trying to pull down on a charging Takakeisho when Takakeisho is neither off-balance nor overextended. Basically Ikioi is standing at the edge of the ring with a bullseye on his chest, and he needs to get off the direct line of Takakeisho’s attack. Takakeisho hits Ikioi hard enough to knock him off the dohyo, while staying in perfect control of his momentum, coming to a gentle stop at the tawara.
Takakeisho has looked solid so far this tournament – stable base, good footwork, hard to push around. But Kagayaki has his way with him and launches him into the stands with a hard shove perfectly placed in the midsection. First loss of the tournament for Takakeisho, first win for Kagayaki.
No fuss, no muss. Takakeisho turns in a solid performance against Shodai, charging straight ahead with a good mix of pushes, shoves, and stiff-arms to various locations on Shodai’s torso. Shodai is kept guessing where the next blow will land until he finds himself on the floor below the dohyo. Takakeisho improves to 3-0.