Aki 2017, Day 1: Yay! Get Your Game Face On!


Harumafuji’s win over Tochiozan was a great way to cap an exciting day one of sumo action. He leads the charge as many of our favorites and up-and-comers slipped up early. Takayasu’s yorikiri win over Tochinoshin gets him off to a great start to challenge as the lone ozeki winner on Day 1. In fact, as we’ll see below, these were the only sanyaku wins today. Let that sink in. A banged up Harumafuji, who bleeds kinboshi, and the newest ozeki Takayasu are the only sanyaku wrestlers with wins today.

All the history (45 bouts), all the pressure of kadoban status was not enough to prepare Goeido for Kotoshogiku’s henka. It was almost a patented Harumafuji sidestep but Harumafuji meets his opponent full on before ducking to the side. In this case, Giku went to the side from the start…just not as blatant as Aminishiki usually does. Giku then finished Goeido off with an easy shove. Terunofuji lost a similarly disappointing match to Hokutofuji. In this case, the tachiai was well met by both, but as Terunofuji allowed himself to slide back to the tawara, he put far too much weight forward. Hokutofuji sensed his chance to pull back and let the ozeki fall to the clay.

Mitakeumi similarly looked rusty and lost to a quick pull by Onosho. Yoshikaze also fell to Chiyotairyu’s tsukidashi early on in this sanyaku blood bath, which started with Shohozan’s great bout against komusubi Tamawashi. Their bout was active, lively, going back and forth until Tamawashi over committed and Shohozan pulled back with perfect timing to let Tamawashi flop onto his belly.

Ura’s agility won the day over Shodai’s power. After a strongly met charge, Ura grabbed Shodai’s arm and pulled back, ducking to the side at the last minute for the impressive tottari win. Ichinojo and Takakeisho faced off to start the second half of makuuchi action. Ichinojo absorbed Takakeisho’s initial charge with ease and seemed to have the bout under control until he tried to grab Takakeisho’s belt. It seemed that going that low brought him off balance and with his back foot already close to the straw bales, Takakeisho pushed him back enough for the win. Balance was also a factor as Chiyonokuni quickly dispatched an off-balance Kagayaki.

The Ikioi yusho is off to a great start with his genki win over Chiyoshouma. The solid shoulder at the tachiai was followed up with a hatakikomi attempt. Chiyoshoma countered with an ill-advised pull as Ikioi pounced and launched both wrestlers out with the Mongolian falling out of the ring first.

Surprisingly, Takarafuji and Takanoiwa have only faced each other seven times, with Takanoiwa’s win bringing his advantage to 5-2. Takarafuji put Takanoiwa on the defensive when he went for an early belt grab but Takanoiwa evaded, resulting in a lively, fast moving bout as each wrestler tried to maintain position. However, Takanoiwa was able to gain control of the center of the ring and walked Uncle Taka out.

Ishiura’s quick henka over Arawashi may have won the bout, but it lost the crowd support. Daieisho aggressively chased wily Takekaze around the ring, picking up a good force-out victory.

The maru-battle was won by Daishomaru. Everyone’s favorite bowling ball, Chiyomaru, met Daishomaru with a straight-forward tachiai. Daishomaru quickly shifted to the side, letting Chiyomaru slip over the edge.

Kaisei’s sukuinage win over Nishikigi evens their personal rivalry at 2-2. Kaisei had retreated to the edge of the dohyo and when Nishikigi advanced, Kaisei used the leverage he could get from the straw bales to keep Nishikigi’s momentum going forward and out of the ring.

Sponsorship banners made an early appearance in the makuuchi tournament, courtesy of Endo’s low rank. He featured about a dozen banners for this bout against Okinoumi. Okinoumi won with a quick throw. It seemed Endo was over exposed with his left foot very far forward. Okinoumi did not miss the opportunity to tip him over forward. I know my previous post made a bit of a point about Endo’s sponsors had not been as present since his Juryo demotion, so I was glad to see so many banners for this fight.

Asanoyama picked up a convincing first makuuchi win over veteran Sokokurai. Yotakayama also got a quick hug-and-chug win over juryo bound Tokushoryu. Daiseido was victorious in a rookie sekitori bout with Yago that lived up to the hype. Both of these big, young guys have a strong future a head of them.

16 thoughts on “Aki 2017, Day 1: Yay! Get Your Game Face On!

  1. Onosho and Hokutofuji are the two rikishi I am the most excited to see this Basho and they didn’t disappoint today!
    I was actually watching a couple of videos on YouTube this morning, and one showed Hokutofuji’s training routine, which actually involved pool based exercises, like running laps. It was very interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Those pool-based exercises are an excellent way for hefty people to conserve their joints. I think he was also interviewed and asked about those rope-jumps Mitakeumi boasted the other day. He said he can’t do it. My prediction – if Mitakeumi keeps those up, he’ll need to ring Terunofuji and ask him for the name of his knee specialist pretty soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Watching the results come in at breakfast time (UK time) and then watching the matches on Kitamayama’s youtube channel I get a real sense of something a bit special about this tournament. A lot of the wrestlers seem to be thinking “this is it, this is the best chance I’ll ever get to win the damn thing”, and the result is a lot of fast, aggressive, no quarter given sumo. I thought Chiyotairyu looked exceptionally good in beating Yoshikaze.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Takayasu wrestled smart–he was trying to get Tochinoshin to pivot on that right knee the entire time, and once he got it the fight was over.

    I thought Terunofuji, whom I picked for the yusho, looked terrible. His base was really stiff. If it’s just warmup jitters, he’s still in ok shape. If not…

    Ichinojo’s stance was even worse. Standing straight up and watching while Takakeisho unloaded on him. He’s headed for a bad result.

    Okinoumi looked awesome putting Endo on the clay. I hope he can keep that up.

    Terrific first day!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Aw, that Ura. When I designed my new Ballerina-zeki avatar, I was thinking that a 130kg+ rikishi on tiptoes is a ridiculous concept, much like Disney’s old pirouetting hippos. Apparently, not when the rikishi is Pretty-in-Pink Ura. I think he even made himself laugh. And an improvised tottari again. So that’s what he can do with a busted ankle and no training whatsoever? The sponsors definitely got their money’s worth there.

    Speaking of Kenshokin, did you notice the hefty sum collected by Asanoyama? That is a nice wad for a Maegashira #16. I have a feeling that the sponsors measure their reach in “obasan” units. I’d love to see the Taka twins get to Makunouchi just to see what wheelbarrows the yobidashi will need to cart their kenshokin off.

    BTW, if we are talking about Aminishiki, and if anybody is wondering how that man still manages to put his large basket of kinboshi to work (by staying in the salary list at an age when you don’t need a tokoyama to lose your topknot), today’s was a classic:

    Endo should have gone the Sadanoumi and Aoiyama way. It’s not fun to drop to Juryo again, but the way his leg looks, he won’t be staying in Makunouchi much longer anyway.

    Onosho, my friends, is the real deal. In the pre-tournament show, between Hiro Morita’s usual breathless Hakuho adoration and the celebration of Mitakeumi as his heir-apparent, the NHK guys completely failed to appreciate the kind of training Onosho got during the summer. I fully expect a kachi-koshi there. And it’s good for Mitakeumi to get off his “destroyer of Hakuho” pedestal and realize that the hard work is just beginning. Now, Harumafuji did the honors of pouring water down Onosho’s back during his butsukari with Hakuho in the jungyo, so I hope he is not overlooking this guy like he did with Ura, because if he is, that’s a kinboshi waiting to dawn.

    Kotoshogiku vs. Goeido. Truth be told, I was a little surprised by that, as Goiedo looked solid throughout the summer jungyo and generally bested Takayasu whenever he could. But Takayasu would never have fallen for that half-henka. Takayasu always takes a henka into account in his tachiai, and despite that, manages to deliver megaton blasts. He simply has excellent control of his feet. But… I still won’t give him the Yusho.

    Terunofuji. Maybe he needed the reminder as well. After the long jungyo silence, he suddenly blazed across the media with a big smirk and big words. Never mind his TV appearance on the weekend which seems to have ranked 10 on the obasan scale. Judging by today’s performance, he won’t make it to the playoff bout vs. Harumafuji. I’d estimate he needs at least a month to gain back his kaiju strength and, indeed, coordination of all his four limbs. So no yusho for now, and if he keeps this up, he is going to be sekiwake in Kyushu. I pray to be wrong, of course.

    Ishiura: not surprised at that henka. I am more surprised that he is on the dohyo at all. He was absent from the summer jungyo, and in fact I have only seen him once – in the medical checkup.

    Finally, Harumafuji. I wouldn’t have believed the 33-year-old Jack-of-all-kimarite could be so anxious before a bout. He had the face of a man on death row (watch the whole thing on Jason’s channel, the highlights show didn’t show the half of it). And he heaved a visible sigh of relief after giving Tochiozan an Introduction to the Crystallography of Dohyo Salt (101 level course, available at the university of Ulanbaatar). Let’s hope he’ll be able to relax a little and enjoy this basho as much as we all are.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ichinojo… if he keeps fighting like that he’s not going to be long for the division. That was a low energy version of the worst kind of Aoiyama sumo.

    I also have to say I’m a bit dissapointed in Ross Mihara’s performance on the NHK World highlights today. Usually with Murray and Raja you get some insight and it’s hard to replicate Hiro’s knowledge AND excitement, but today Ross was limited to “he’s the oldest” “he’s the tallest” “he’s the fattest” as the extent of his commentary.

    I have a lot of time for all the NHK broadcasters but I can’t help feeling half the folks on this comment thread would have added more to the commentary today.

    While we’re on the subject of superficial things – nice new mawashi for Hokutofuji as well…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually not too keen about either Hiro Morita or Raja Pradhan. Here’s a little drinking game: take a shot every time either of them uses the term “lock horns”. I wish NHK could find somebody who both understands sumo and has a good command of the English language (including a range of idioms that extends beyond ushi-tsutsuki (bull sumo. It’s an actual thing in Shimane)).

      Like

      • I tend to like Hiro and Murray the best. I tend to get a good chuckle whenever Murray calls Endo “Mr. Popularity” or Ura “Mr. Exciting.” I like to think he has a whole list of Mister Men names for various rikishi

        By far the biggest cliche has to be “[he wants/is trying/i want/am trying] to do [his/my] brand of sumo” !!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The more I watch Onosho, the more I’m certain that he’s going to win more than a couple of yushos. He’s got the speed, the variety, the balance and the strength. Barring injuries, he’s gonna leapfrog a lot of people up the banzuke.

    Liked by 2 people

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