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.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Aoiyama, dude, that’s totally unnecessary. After Hakuho was chided last year for an extra shove that sent Yoshikaze crashing onto the ring judge (breaking his leg), I’m pretty sure everyone took notice that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated. This late push by Aoiyama is egregious and unacceptable, and I expect he’ll earn a stern rebuke from the elders.
Takarafuji has no answer for Takakeisho today, letting himself get pushed around the ring with only token lateral movement to try and get off the line of the attack. A lackluster performance from the usually stalwart Takarafuji, but Takakeisho stays focused and doesn’t screw it up. Both men finish the day at 7-4, still mathematically (if not realistically) in the title hunt only three losses behind tournament leader Goeido with four days remaining.
This bout wins the Prettiest Mawashi Matchup Award for the tournament so far, with Endo in golden yellow and Kotoyuki in gentle lavender. But Kotoyuki’s belt belies the ferocity of his sumo. He stands up Endo at the tachiai before pulling back and letting Endo stumble forward. With Endo off-balance, Kotoyuki charges forward with a few sharp thrusts to end it quickly. Here’s hoping Kotoyuki gets enough wins to see a promotion back up to the top division next tournament.
Yoshikaze is back up in the rarified air at the top of the division wrestling at Sekiwake, only two ranks below Yokozuna. So he probably had his concentration focused on the tough bouts ahead against the likes of Harumafuji, Goeido, Takayasu, Terunofuji and Mitakeumi, and totally overlooked Chiyotairyu. He shouldn’t have. Chiyotairyu hits Yoshikaze like a truck and completely destroys him with a series of sharp thrusts anchored on good footwork. A tournament full of performances like this and Chiyotairyu could see a promotion back up to the sanyaku ranks, where he hasn’t been since 2014.
A lot of subtext behind this bout. The old guard, Ozeki Goeido, needing just a winning record this tournament to preserve his rank. The new(ish) guy, Takayasu, looking for a promotion to the rank of Ozeki if he can get at least ten wins. And it’s Takayasu who appears more motivated, blasting Goeido off the line with a massive tachiai that sends him reeling. The rest is academic, and it’s over a few thrusts and steps later.
Myogiryu’s spent the last two years in a steady fall from the high rank of Komusubi, and now finds himself near the bottom of the top division. Chiyotairyu has spent the same time span bouncing up and down between the top two divisions. Both would love to put together a solid tournament to get out of danger of falling to Juryo (again), but it’s Chiyotairyu who starts off the Natsu Basho in Tokyo with a bang. A solid tachiai puts Myogiryu on his heels, and Chiyotairyu follows with some sharp thrusts that finish the job with no trouble.