Why is this man so happy?
A Test of Strength and Speed
The picture above says it all, Yoshikaze with that enormous stack of kensho that had been intended for Kisenosato (maybe to buy a second dump truck?). As our readers were probably aware, the amount of factual information about the top rikishi in the Japanese press leading up to the Natsu basho was thin and questionable. With so many top men, including the start of sumo Kisenosato, in damaged and possibly underperforming shape, they kept the focus on things other than the athlete’s health.
But when the basho starts, that curtain must lift and the rikishi face off on the dohyo, and those with glaring weakness are revealed. This was the case with Kisenosato, Goeido and Terunofuji at a minimum. Specifically Kisenosato clearly had trouble transmitting power through the left side of his body. Yoshikaze is fast, smart and agressive, and it took a few fractions of a second for him to figure that out and formulate a winning attack plan.
Everyone in Japan wants to see Kisenosato continue to dominate, but given the medical facts, he may need surgery and several months of recovery to get there.
We are several hours and two bowls of Chanko away from the start of Makuuchi, but here are the matches I would highlight for today:
Myogiryu vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama had a great first match on Sunday. This young rikishi has been on a metoric rise through the ranks, and if day 1 was any indication, he has plenty of upward velocity remaining.
Ura vs Kagayaki – Ura looked very good (and very Ura) on day 1, today he faces Kagayaki who has shown occasional flashes of greatness. I am eager to see more “plastic man” moves out of the pink devil, so bring on the action.
Takekaze vs Hokutofuji – Both of these rikishi were physically overwhelmed on day one, and both of them did not like it. Hokutofuji is pressing to bounce back from his first losing tournament in Osaka.
Ikioi vs Shodai – a pair of crowd favorites, Shodai literally startled me with his day one performance. Not having the benefit of the replay, I was left wondering what happened. This is probably going to be a very competitive match.
Mitakeumi vs Daieisho – I don’t quite feel sorry for Daieisho now in the land of the giants, but on day one against Takayasu, he looked completely out of place. Now he faces the other very strong up and coming rikishi in Mitakeumi. Due to the strangeness of sumo, Mitakeumi is still at Komusubi, while I think he is second in “threat power” to Takayasu, and well ahead of Kotoshogiku and Tamawashi.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – It’s crystal clear that Terunofuji’s knee is back on the disabled parts list, and he is possibly cruising towards a troubled tournament. This is very sad, as a healthy Terunofuji is a sumo excellence.
Takayasu vs Goeido – Goeido’s ankle is clearly something he is either worried about, or he has problems. Goeido is very poor when he is fighting defensive sumo, and only really shines when he attacks almost recklessly. Takayasu needs 9 more wins to hit his 33.
Kisenosato vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi looked rather vague on day 1 against Goeido. Maybe he can provide a better warm up for Kisenosato than Yoshikaze did.
Yoshikaze vs Hakuho – I thank the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan that I lived to see this one in person. I expect that Hakuho is going to dominate this bout, but if anyone can surprise The Boss, it’s my man Yoshikaze. If he wins, expect another brick sized pile of kensho and a smiling face at the top of the blog
Harumafuji vs Endo – Endo was surprising on day 1, but I am guessing Harumafuji is in marginally better condition than last basho (at least at the start), and will give him some trouble, and likely win.
Chiyonokuni vs Kakuryu – Chiyonokuni has come a long way in the past year, and is on the cusp of being a real contender. His chance comes today to make the zabuton fly, as Yokozuna Kakuryu can be hit-or-miss.
Next updates live from inside the Kokugikan (if the signal works)