Yokozuna Kakuryu wins the March 2018 Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, his fourth top-division championship and his first since November 2016. He finished with an excellent 13-2 record, losing only to defending champ Tochinoshin and Ozeki Takayasu. Over the course of the tournament he used four different kimarite (winning techniques): hatakikomi (6), yorikiri (3), oshidashi (3), and tsukiotoshi (1).
Having wrapped up the tournament on the previous day, Yokozuna Kakuryu provides us with a last bit of entertainment in the final bout of the tournament. He meets Ozeki Takayasu in the center of the ring and immediately falls victim to Takayasu’s powerful tachiai. Kakuryu tries for a few moments to push back against the furious Ozeki, but soon resorts to pulling on his head and running backwards. Takayasu follows and launches forward, pushing Kakuryu right to the edge of the ring but falling down in the process. The judges want to talk about the ref’s decision in favor of Kakuryu, and a lengthy conference ensues. After much discussion, the announcement is made: Kakuryu’s heel touched out at the same time that Takayasu hit the dirt, so let’s have a rematch! The do-over starts much the same way as the first time around, with Takayasu knocking Kakuryu back off his line. The difference this time is that Takayasu doesn’t fall down. He bulls Kakuryu around the ring and keeps his feet under him, being extra careful to stop his momentum at the ring’s edge to send Kakuryu packing without ever being in danger himself. Takayasu finishes with a record of 12-3, runner-up for the second consecutive tournament. Kakuryu wins his fourth-ever championship with a record of 13-2.
Oh, what a great bout. How in the world does Takayasu escape? Fantastic display of agility and strength by both men. Mitakeumi falls hard to his eighth loss, guaranteeing demotion next tournament. Takayasu continues another excellent tournament, improving to 11-3.
This tournament’s only Ozeki-on-Ozeki battle starts with a good tachiai, Takayasu pushing on Goeido’s head and Goeido getting his hands tangled in the silk strings on the front of Takayasu’s belt. Takayasu shifts strategy, suddenly pulling down on Goeido’s head and retreating, with Goeido stumbling forward and falling to a 9-4 record and out of yusho contention. Takayasu improves to 10-3, still two losses behind tournament leader Kakuryu but mathematically still in it.
Wait, wait, wait. Chiyomaru, at the rank of Maegashira 5, beats both Ozeki this tournament? Huh. This one’s really on Takayasu, as he takes control of the bout (after getting knocked back by Chiyomaru’s outstanding tachiai) but basically loses track of where the edge of the ring is, stepping out on his own while moving Chiyomaru around. Maybe Chiyomaru had a little to do with it, but Takayasu wants this one back. Takayasu is at 9-3, Chiyomaru at 6-6.
Takayasu’s strong tachiai knocks Tochinoshin back off his line, and Tochinoshin is forced to grab Takayasu’s arm and try to circle away from the edge. But Takayasu turns on a dime, following Tochinoshin around and pushing him out just as Tochinoshin pulls down on the back of Takayasu’s head and drives him into the dirt. The judges get up to talk about it, and confirm the referee’s decision in favor of Takayasu. They weren’t sure that the two didn’t go out/down at the same time (or Takayasu a bit first), but it turns out that Tochinoshin’s heel stepped over the edge at the end of Takayasu’s initial charge. Takayasu has sole possession of third place at 9-2. Tochinoshin falls to 7-4.
Takayasu’s all like, “Talk to the hand!” and Shodai’s all like, “Whatevs, Takayasu, I’ll talk to whoevmpmmph.”