The Body Count Increments Again.
Prior to the start of Aki, it was clear that this basho was going to be a jumbled and surprising event. With a number of mainstays out on medical leave, and a vigorous corps of new talent blasting their way up the ranks, it was clear that we were going to see many familiar names getting losses. But we can excuse fans in thinking that all of the injuries were accounted for up front. Sadly day 2 seems have have had a swarm of rikishi suffering lower body injuries, and one has to wonder if the yusho will simply be the last man standing.
We can start in the Ozeki, who are still suffering. Today both Terunofuji (his second) and Takayasu (his first) hit the clay. This is especially alarming for Terunofuji who has to pick up 8 wins to remove his kadoban tag. Prior to the start of Aki, I had assumed that he would be able to produce 8 wins without too much challenge. But clearly he is still recovering from surgery and not quite up to full Kaiju power yet.
Sekiwake? 0-2, both of them. Both of them are very capable rikishi. Both of them have gone down like Juryo punks in the first two days (this coming from a Yoshikaze fan). The frustration on Mitakeumi’s face was evident as Chiyotairyu put him away handily. Tochiozan shares the 0-2 start at Komusubi, and has looked a half step slower than the ranging sumo machine that went 10-5 in Nagoya. Yes, the first 3 days frequently feature favorites shaking off the cobwebs, but with the big bad Yokozuna sidelined, you would think the San’yaku would attack with a sense of purpose. The lone surviving Yokozuna, Harumafuji, is holding up fine for the first 2 days, but it’s clear to see that he’s competing in spite of the pain.
Finally it’s worth noting that Ura may have further degraded his injured knee today in his bout with Takakeisho, who was out for a clear victory, and achieved it. Ura needs to take care, and he should study the calamities that visited Endo when he was a rising star and fan favorite.
Myogiryu defeats Yutakayama – Due to the late breaking kyujo wave, there is an imbalance in the banzuke, so upper members of Juryo have been visiting Makuuchi daily to fill in the match list. Today Myogiryu, tomorrow we get “Uncle Sumo” Aminishiki.
Endo defeats Asanoyama – Endo has his hurt ankle taped, and he still looks a bit slow, but he managed to deliver a defeat to Asanoyama via a somewhat lucky slap-down. In general there seems to be traction problems with the dohyo already this basho. This after the Kyokai made a statement that they would use the same clay for every dohyo from here on out. Note – Asanoyama strikes me as one of these rikishi who is just happy to show up and get to do sumo today.
Okinoumi defeats Tokushoryu – The nature of Okinoumi’s chronic injury means his ability is more or less a day-by-day surprise package. At Maegashira 14, he has a fairly easy schedule for his “healthy mode”, which he currently seems to be in. The rather massive Tokushoryu gave him a very good contest today, but Okinoumi took his time and worked him to done.
Nishikigi defeats Chiyomaru – Solid effort from Nishikigi in his second match. He overpowered Chiyomaru and kept moving forward. Many bouts, it’s as simple as finding a way to do that.
Arawashi defeats Takekaze – Takekaze’s henka did not fool Arawashi for a moment, and it left Takekaze off balance and easy to thrust out. Who faces Takekaze and is not looking for a henka?
Ikioi defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki needs to find a way to move beyond the “good effort” category he falls into in far too many bouts. Ikioi is quite strong, but he is a benchmark for Kagayaki – he needs to find a way to systemically defeat a rikishi like Ikioi if he wants to reach his goals of higher ranks.
Shodai defeats Ichinojo – Two large, hulking guys, wearing the same color mawashi. Moving kind of slow, seem to be kind of phoning it in. No wonder there was a Monoii. From the replay it was really hard to tell who touched out / down first. But the Shimpan did the right thing and called for a Torinaohi (re-match) and ran it again. Second run was all Shodai.
Takakeisho defeats Ura – Takakeisho blasted out of the tachiai and had Ura back and off balance. But being Ura, he attempted to distort space-time at the tawara, but his injured knee gave out as he went to evade Takakeisho’s finishing thrust. After the match it was evident that that damaged knee is now a much more damaged knee. They ended up taking him out via a wheelchair. I will be surprised if Ura sees Aki day 15, and frankly should be focusing on recuperating.
Chiyotairyu defeats Mitakeumi – This bout was all Chiyotairyu. A forearm blast out of the tachiai got Mitakeumi off balance and Chiyotairyu finished him moments later with a firm slap-down. Many fans have hopes for Mitakeumi, but at the moment he is looking really disorganized.
Onosho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze put up a good fight, but man, can Onosho really pour it on! If Onosho can stay healthy, he has a lot of great sumo to offer for years to come. Yoshikaze’s dismount looked really ragged, and I am willing to guess that he, too, lost his footing.
Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – This whole bout was all Tamawashi. I don’t know if Takayasu’s mawashi was on too tight or if he had too much sake Sunday night, but he looked surprised and unable to respond to Tamawashi’s explosive tachiai. Blasting your opponent off the dohyo at the tachiai is usually Takayasu’s forte. Worryingly, Tamawashi and Tamawashi both seem to have wrenched their ankles. Both limped off the dohyo, but moments later Takayasu rode a wheelchair back to the dressing room.
Kotoshogiku defeats Terunofuji – The Kyushu Bulldozer was able to lock up the big Kaiju and hip-pump him across the bales. It was a classic Kotoshogiku attack strategy, and it underscores that Terunofuji may not yet be ready to compete at full strength.
Goeido defeats Hokutofuji – This is more like the Goeido we wanted to see day 1. Strong, confident and committed to his attack strategy. Hokutofuji put up some firm resistance, but was not match for Goeido booted up in 2.0 mode. Watch the slow motion replay for some great upper body work by Goeido to disrupt Hokutofuji’s effective opening gambit.
Harumafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Another solid day of sumo from the surviving Yokozuna. The big Georgian went down in a quick mawashi battle that Harumafuji made look easy. When he’s on, he’s a joy to watch.
Closing note – How many more kyujo before the end of week 1?