Sumo’s back! The best part is, we had strong performances from just about all of the top wrestlers today. All three yokozuna are back. If all stay healthy for the duration, it will be the first time since January to have all three yokozuna in it. Obviously, we don’t have “Leaders” yet, so I’ll start with my highlight match: Terunofuji v Ichinojo.
The matchup lived up to its billing. Ichinojo put in a strong performance but Terunofuji was able to counter every move made by his compatriot. The ozeki weathered several charges from Ichinojo before trying to make his own move, waiting for the big guy to tire. He put a lot of my doubts about his condition to bed as his final, winning drive showed his knee is certainly strong enough to compete this tournament. Tomorrow, Terunofuji will face Tochiozan and Ichinojo will take on Hakuho.
My upset of the day was on the mark. Yoshikaze has been blowing things down for a while now and today’s target was reigning chumpion, Kakuryu. Kakuryu didn’t pull a henka, which may have been a mistake. He went after Yoshikaze with a strong, forceful tachiai. But then he settled back, like he wanted to toy with Yoshikaze with just some upper-body slaps and pushes. When you watch the replay (thanks Kintamayama), his body is too vertical and he’s just using his arms to try to keep the komusubi at bay. This gave Yoshikaze a huge opening to charge from a low position with superior leverage. The effect was to make the yokozuna appear to have been blown off the dohyo. It’s clear my next kanji-related post will be about 風. I feel it’s overdue given Yoshikaze’s brilliant performances of late. He faces Kisenosato tomorrow, while Kakuryu will try to recover against Aoiyama. More updates from Day 1 below…
Hakuho and Harumafuji picked up good wins. Tochinoshin was strong and had position but Hakuho saw some tiny opening and threw the giant Georgian. Harumafuji’s speed and balance were on display as he worked Myogiryu out of the ring. Kisenosato took a few shots from Osunaarashi but pushed the Egyptian out. Even Goeido was on his game, taking out Okinoumi.
Endo lost to Amuru for the first time in a great match. Unfortunately, it looked like he may have taken a hard fall there at the end. I can’t tell if his head or shoulder took more of the force but the way he bounced there couldn’t be good. He was a bit slow to get up so I hope he’ll be fine tomorrow. Kotoyuki chased Sadanoumi around the ring with his short little arms until Sadanoumi fell down. Ikioi got the better of Aminishiki as the geezer jumped off the dohyo.
Mitakeumi, the impressive sekitori making his makuuchi debut, picked up his first win in this debut match against Takekaze. He demonstrated great balance, ring awareness, and strength. He looks like a great one to watch. He’ll face Takayasu tomorrow. I don’t think Takayasu will go straight at him since he’s coming off an injury and didn’t seem 100% today, running away from (but beating) Chiyotairyu.
I’m going to split the ten wrestlers I chose into even (West) and odd (East): so for West, I’ve got Harumafuji, Ikioi, Sadanofuji, Ishiura & Jokoryu. My East team is Hakuho, Takayasu, Takarafuji, Osunaarashi, and Kaisei. Right now, East leads 4-2 and I’ve got serious questions about my Juryo choices.