Briton-Meyer brought up a great point yesterday when he noted that it seemed like the competition in the top division had improved. He’s absolutely right. Rikishi who benefited from the mass yaocho retirements in the early 2011 gave some guys an unrealistic bump up the banzuke. This resulted in a weaken top division. Although many deserving rikishi graced the top division, the majority weren’t ready for the level of competition.
I’d argue the banzuke’s equilibrium is healing now with the addition of Chiyotairyu, and other rikishi gaining experience in the top division such as Takayasu, Myogiryu, Aoiyama, Takarafuji, and Ikio.
Watching Takanoyama’s decline, is probably an even better indicator of the health of the banzuke. The Czech is on track to have his seventh consecutive losing record since his 11-4 Juryo showing last May! The banzuke is healing and when you add the likes of Takanoiwa, a healthy Homasho, and newcomers Oosunaarashi, and Endo to the Makuuchi division soon, things will continue to improve competition wise.
That’s my take anyways.
Let’s get to the action!
Hakuho continues his win streak easily over the former ozeki candidate Goeido, in a bout that lasted no more than four seconds. The Dai Yokozuna gained the left hand outside grip at the tachi-ai. Goeido attempted to drive the yokozuna back and Hakuho just went with the flow: hitting the bales and throwing Goeido out of the ring with ease. Make no mistake, Hakuho was in the drivers seat this entire bout. I was talking with Connelly a few nights ago and we both agreed that Hakuho has grown into his role as Yokozuna. He’s still methodical when he needs to be, but the Hak’s confidence in his ability to win has made for more interesting sumo.
Harumafuji and Myogiryu went slap happy in this one. Ama winning the tachi-ai and going for the mawashi just as Myogiryu tried to slap him down. The two men then tried harite the heck out of each other: Haruma attempting to gain the mawashi and Myogiryu attempting to keep the yokozuna off his mawashi. A slap on the back from Yogi reserved his and Harry’s position on the dohyo giving the Bear a bit of space. Both men hesitated and then Myogiryu drove Harumafuji off the dohyo for the kinboshi. Harumafuji drops to 6-3 and has yet to face the Ozeki or Hakuho. Myogiryu moves up to a more respectable 5-4.
The men in black couldn’t decide if AmiSneaky or Kise-no-Yokozuna-run-sato fell first and so they called for the torinaoshi do over. Kisenosato had momentum on his side the second time through and he bumped Aminishiki out of the ring to move to 6-3.
When Kakuryu is on his game, he’s one of my favorite rikishi to watch. He and Kotoshogiku faced off for the tournament’s first Ozeki showdown. The two men clashed at the center of the dohyo and after the first collision Kakuryu seemingly swung himself around to gain the outside left hand grip. Koto attempted to bump Kakuryu but didn’t have the grip to manage it. Suddenly their after Kak saw his opening and drove the Ozeki back and out of the ring. The way Kotoshogiku left foot slide across the dohyo like it was practice makes me wonder if it was a legit bout, but then again the dude probably owes Kakuryu a few as it is. Kakuryu moves to a solid 7-2.
Kotooshu is on a mad run right now at 7-1. Chiyotairyu is having a great basho at 6-2. I’ve been thinking about the difference between the young Ryu’s wins and loses this basho and the difference is telling. Where as a few basho back we were lamenting the kid’s inability to utilizing forward moving sumo, this basho he’s been outstanding in that category. When he’s been beaten this basho it’s been solely due to the other rikishi’s ability to absorb Tairyu’s tachi-ai. Hakuho and Kotoshogiku destroyed him and it’s because their tachi-ai was superior to his. Kotooshu was able to neutralize Scar’s tachi and work the new kid out of the ring yorikiri. Good stuff from Kotooshu who remains one win off the lead at 8-1. Chiyotairyu is getting better, and probably the best bet Japan’s had in some time for a true run at the Ozeki rank.
Brazilian Kaisei continues his wining ways today. Easily defeating the former sekiwake mainstay, Wakanosato via oshidashi. Kaisei remains one win off the leader Hakuho, but one can only assume win the Kyokai decides to have him face someone higher on the banzuke that will end his “run for the yusho.”
Valentine’s gonna hit you with some seirous sumo knowledge tomorrow, and if you have any vermin issues he’d be glad to “git’em outta dere” for you.