Haru day one is in the books. It’s only one day of a fifteen-day tournament, but what did we learn?
Kakuryu looked much better than we might have expected from the injury reports. He was in complete control from the start against Chiyotairyu, getting a mawashi grip with his injured right hand and quickly driving the Komusubi out. The right hand looked far from useless. The sole participating Yokozuna should get a stiffer test tomorrow against…
Endo, who calmly used Takayasu’s sloppy forward movement against him, getting a nifty rear pushout win against the Ozeki at the tawara. Takayasu was a popular yusho pick before the basho; the odds against that just went up. Is this the tournament Endo finally breaks through in the joi?
Tamawashi faced Goeido. One of the men looked like an Ozeki, but it wasn’t the hometown favorite who actually holds that rank. Goeido went for a quick mawashi grip, but Tamawashi broke it and shoved the Ozeki off the dohyo with ease.
Both Sekiwake looked good. Mitakeumi tossed down Arawashi like a rag doll. Tochinoshin looked like the rikishi who won the yusho at Hatsu, overpowering the veteran Takarafuji in a mawashi battle. There was no obvious sign of the leg injury he had suffered in training recently.
Also not missing a beat was Ichinojo. He allowed Kotoshogiku to establish his trademark bumpity-bump attack, calmly regrouped at the tawara, and yorikiried the former Ozeki. The Komusubi looks determined to remain in sanyaku and keep pushing for a higher rank.
Shohozan scored an impressive win over Takakeisho, first craftily preempting the wave-action tsuppari attack by grabbing the mawashi, and then finishing things off with a nifty throw. Shodai, despite his usual terrible tachiai, overpowered Chiyomaru. Kaisei looked strong against Hokutofuji, who seems not to have overcome his recent struggles.
Both of the recent makuuchi newcomers, who I thought had been overpromoted for this basho, did not look the least bit overmatched today against veteran opponents. Abi won the pushing battle against Yoshikaze, using his long arms to great effect, while Ryuden got the better of the mawashi battle against Okinoumi.
We should learn more tomorrow, with some key matches coming up, in addition to the above-mentioned Kakuryu-Endo bout. Some key questions:
Can Goeido bounce back against Arawashi, whom he’s defeated twice in three bouts?
Can Mitakeumi maintain his momentum against Takarafuji?
Who will prevail in the other two upper-rank bouts that look surprisingly pivotal for only the second day of the basho? Takayasu, who can’t afford a second loss, takes on Ichinojo, who looks dominant. And Tamawashi vs. Tochinoshin is a candidate for match of the day. These two have faced each other 20 times, with the big Georgian holding a 14-6 edge.