Haru 2021 Day Seven
Technically, Endo won with the shitatedashinage, or "pulling underarm throw." What he actually did was get low on Tochinoshin, grab the underside of the front of the Georgian's mawashi, and yanked.
Match of The Day
Maegashira 12 West Aoiyama versus Maegashira 9 West Hoshoryu
This was a classic matchup of opposites. Aoiyama is massive and wants to keep his opponent at a distance with heavy thrusts. Hoshoryu is undersized and wants to go inside for a throw. Neither man really got his preferred brand of sumo going. Hoshoryu got in on Aoiyama, but he couldn't get a solid grasp because of Aoiyama's offense. Then it seemed Aoiyama's size advantage would be the deciding factor. Eventually, he just awkwardly worked the more experienced man out of the dohyo.
Do you like comeback stories? You have your choice of them. The Haru basho seems determined to give us a good one. The three leaders through one week of matches are all working their way to a new peak after injury struggles.
Chiyonokuni had the kind of knee injury in January 2019 that needed immediate surgery and sent him down to Makushita. He was fighting better than ever, looking like he might make a surge into his first Sanyaku appearance. At the very least, he seemed guaranteed to secure a strong Maegashira position. Instead, he had to fight his way back, getting two Makushita and one Juryo yusho. Now, he's the lower-ranked Maegashira who is dominating his end of the Banzuke.
Takayasu is a fomer Ozeki, and has long been a favored answer to the question "Who is the best rikishi who has never won a yusho?" He never had the kind of epic injury requiring surgery, but he dealt for a long-time with lower back pain. In January 2020, he lost his Ozeki status after withdrawing from two straight basho. Takayasu easily could have been on a slow journey down to Juryo. In 2021, Takayasu seems to be back to his old self, well-balanced and outlasting all comers. (Against Takarafuji, he went over three minutes and finished with a hearty throw.)
Terunofuji is the most epic story of all. Terunofuji seemed almost like a lock for a Yokozuna promotion in 2017, and then he suffered an absurd series of maladies. These included problems with both knees, diabetes complications, and a kidney stone. In March 2019, he was in Jonidan. Over the last two years, all he's done is gone through every level but the lowest, winning a Makushita Juryo, a Juryo yusho, and the Makuuchi yusho on his return. Another yusho guarantees a return to Ozeki-dom, and more whispers of possible Yokozuna-dom.
With a clutch of rikishi one win behind and the vagaries of sumo, the yusho is not guaranteed to go to one of these three men. Yet if it does go to any of them, we have a dramatic win. At the very least, we'll likely get to see them run into each other later in the basho.