What speaks for Takayasu is the change in his demeanor, at least as I perceive it. He used to be upset by fuck-ups in the past, in a way that visibly influenced his feelings about his own abilities in follow-up bouts. Now, when he prepares for the bout, he looks like an Ozeki (or even proto-Yokozuna) should look like. This kind of thing projects to the opponents and reinforces his chances of success.
That aside, let's not have Kisenosato's case be anything else than what it is: a historical freak thing, highly political, with numbers that look decent enough (although scraped together over way too many basho), but are also somewhat tainted if you want to interpret the odd bout in the tinfoil way.
It's a pitty, really. If Kisenosato wouldn't have been grounded by his dumbass oyakata in his early career, he may even have learned what this tachi-ai thing is, simply by brawling with the other kids. Then subtract the elders' need to push the homeboys on some shaky pedestal and he might have ended as a very decent, very successful Ozeki with a proper shot at the ropes. And not this farcical persona that he clearly didn't feel comfortable to live up to. Past tense, btw, because he won't be back.