It’s all in Goeido’s hands, if he wins out then he wins the title. And after losing the last two days in a row, you have to wonder where his head’s at. It seems like he got it back together, surviving Takanoiwa’s repeated attempts to pull him down (which is how he lost yesterday and the day before). Excellent footwork, not leaning too far forward, rotating nicely to keep Takanoiwa in front of him, and finishing with one of my favorite techniques: watashikomi (thigh grabbing push down). Now at 11-3, Ozeki Goeido will clinch the championship if he beats Yokozuna Harumafuji tomorrow. A loss to Harumafuji will result in a one-match playoff for the title.
Set ’em up, knock ’em down. Takanoiwa handily dispatches Daishomaru to stay tied with the select group of three wrestlers who sit at 8-3, within striking distance of tournament leader Goeido.
Ichinojo adjusts quickly to his opponent’s changing tactics, first grabbing onto the right arm and then the left as Takanoiwa maneuvers for a belt grip. And Ichinojo has a massively stable base when he sets his hips correctly – with a slight twitch of his body he transfers his bulk into immense pressure on Takanoiwa’s left arm, sending him rolling out of the ring by kotenage (arm lock throw). Both men are having good tournaments, Ichinojo at 6-4 and Takanoiwa at 7-3.
Endo does everything right until the very end, when everything goes wrong in an instant. He has a good tachiai, staying low and pushing hard against Takanoiwa’s chin to move him backwards while keeping his feet moving and hips low. Endo sets his feet for the final charge, loading up with both hands against the apparently helpless Takanoiwa who is balanced on the tawara with his heels hanging over the danger zone. Somehow gripping the straw with just his right toes, Takanoiwa spins sideways and pulls down on Endo’s head with his left hand, and Endo goes stumbling by to his fourth loss. Takanoiwa is having a great tournament, improving to 7-2.
These two don’t have any kind of history that I’m aware of, but this bout almost devolves into a brawl. The weapon of choice seems to be a massive slap to the face from both men, followed by charging with the head into the other wrestler’s nose. Great back-and-forth battle, won by a nifty move from Takanoiwa who pulls down hard on Kagayaki’s head just when it appears there’s a pause in the action. Kagayaki slowly climbs back up onto the dohyo, the red welts on his face testament to the battle he just endured.
Keeping hold of Chiyoshoma is like trying to wrangle an armload of eels, if eels also occasionally tried to trip you. But Takanoiwa manages nicely, staying centered on his opponent’s midsection and working patiently for the win.