Former ozeki Asanoyama made a sensational return from injury Sunday by winning his first bout of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament against yokozuna aspirant Takakeisho.
The current No. 1 maegashira, who sat out the first seven days with a calf problem, inflicted one of several Day 8 upsets at Fukuoka Kokusai Center that left unheralded No. 14 Ichiyamamoto in the outright lead at 7-1.
The two other joint overnight leaders, ozeki Hoshoryu and sekiwake Kotonowaka, both dropped to 6-2 by losing to No. 4 Nishikigi and No. 2 Shodai, respectively, after Ichiyamamoto defeated No. 13 Takarafuji (2-6).
Kirishima was the day's only ozeki winner, pushing out komusubi Hokutofuji (2-6) to join eight others tied for second at 6-2.
Asanoyama dealt a further blow to Takakeisho's hopes of moving up to yokozuna by claiming the battle of former and current ozeki.
Takakeisho (5-3) won the opening clash and pushed Asanoyama (1-0-7) to the edge, but the maegashira showed strength and footwork to remain inside the straw and execute an underarm throw reversal that was upheld after the judges conferred to determine who exited the ring first.
Hoshoryu took his fourth straight head-to-head loss against problem opponent Nishikigi (6-2), who turned things around with an arm-lock throw after being forced on to the back foot.
"It went well in the end. I was on the defensive side of things, but I was tenacious," said Nishikigi, aiming for a return to the three "sanyaku" ranks below yokozuna after going 5-10 in his komusubi debut in September.
A day after taking his first loss of the 15-day tournament at the hands of No. 1 Ura (2-6), Kotonowaka was outworked by No. 2 Shodai (4-4). The former ozeki was strong off the mark and kept up the pressure on his way to victory by force out.
Following back-to-back victories over ozeki Kirishima and Takakeisho, No. 4 Gonoyama (4-4) claimed his third straight sanyaku victim by pushing out struggling sekiwake Wakamotoharu (3-5). Sekiwake Daieisho dropped further off the pace at 5-3 as he succumbed to a hand pull down against komusubi Abi (3-5).