Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

Hakuho Dohyo Iri Day 2

The fans were out in force today in Nagoya, and I mean everyone was far too warm and fanning themselves with vigor. Parts of Japan are facing a very moist and hot summer this year, which is natural for that part of the world. While it may be uncomfortable for the fans sitting near the dohyo, it’s brutal on the clay, under the hot lights and struggling to out muscle a 400 pound opponent. Worse still is the lot of the gyoji. Not only do they have to stay up there for a series of matches, as the day wears on (and the temperatures rise), the regalia the gyojis wear increases in layers, accessories and complexities. One has to assume that during the Makuuchi matches, the poor gyoji is drenched in his own broth.

Highlight Matches

Hokutofuji defeats Akiseyama – Hokutofuji looking decidedly less awesome today in his win over Juryo visitor Akiseyama.

Ishiura defeats Kotoeko – Ishiura delivers some decent sumo today, stays mobile and keeps Kotoeko off balance. As a result he is able to stick the uwatedashinage for a respectable win.

Asanoyama defeats Okinoumi – The only thing more impressive than the way that Okinoumi was able to keep Asanoyama away form his belt was the moment Asanoyama says, “To hell with it”, and just rolls Okinoumi over and thrusts him down.

Onosho defeats Arawashi – Nice tachiai from Arawashi, who worked to get a right hand on the mawashi from the start, but Onosho overpowered every attempt and controlled the match. The end features a classic Arawashi cartwheel / tumble.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji never really was able to generate much offense against Endo, who absorbed the tachiai and turned the Isegahama man, then stepped out of the way when Takarafuji pressed forward.

Chiyotairyu defeats Yoshikaze – Big Chiyotairyu unleashes denshamichi-sumo (railroad sumo) on Yoshikaze and derails any hope the berserker might have had for a day 2 win.

Kaisei defeats Daishomaru – Its hard to describe a giant, lumbering rikishi as genki, but so far Kaisei is really looking dialed into his sumo. He made quick work of Daishomaru.

Takakeisho defeats Kagayaki – This was always going to be an odd match. Takakeisho got the better of the tachiai, but Kagayaki set up the oshi attack first, and best by getting inside. There were a couple of kinetic slaps that really rang out during the match, at one point the crowd gasps, as these two held nothing back. Then Kagayaki decided to go for a haymaker aimed at Takakeisho’s face, and lost focus. Sad mistake, Mr Fundamentals, as Takakeisho dropped his hips and gave him one blast of the “wave action tsuppari” and that was all it took to send Kagayaki clear of the tawara. This was the first time that Takakeisho was able to beat Kagayaki.

Ichinojo defeats Abi – As we previewed, Abi’s reach advantage is meaningless against Ichinojo. But Abi’s extreme maneuverability nearly carried the day, as he circled to his left and got behind the Mongolian, and nearly shoved him out. To his credit, Ichinojo recovered rapidly. The near loss clearly energized him and he attacked with purpose, getting a mawashi grip and finishing Abi in seconds. I do like Abi, but I pray he expands his sumo before everyone figures out how to shut down his only effective attack.

Mitakeumi defeats Ikioi – Great effort from both men, a solid tachiai followed by decision to go for the belt. Sadly it looks like Ikioi went too far forward reaching down to Mitakeumi’s hips, and Mitakeumi deftly encouraged him to follow through and hit the clay. Will Mitakeumi finally hit double digits?

Goeido defeats Tamawashi – They had a tough time getting this one started, but the actual match featured a Goeido hit and shift, so lksumo was nearly correct (he was expecting a Goeido henka). Tamawashi sailed past Goeido and into Shohozan’s ringside lap.

Tochinoshin defeats Chiyonokuni – Tochinoshin likely knew going into this one that he would never get a hand on Chiyonokuni’s mawashi, and might very well injure himself if he tried too hard. So he chose to meet Chiyonokuni with his own brand of flailing oshi-zumo that included a couple of half hearted attempts at the mawashi. Just to be clear, when you have someone that strong putting his elbow into your face, that’s going to be a big deal. He overwhelmed the faster, more mobile Chiyonokuni and it was over in a hurry.

Takayasu wins against Shohozan – Takayasu gets a freebee as Shohozan absorbs a pride-obliterating slipiotoshi and falls down on the dohyo after he clearly established the upper hand in the match. Officially recorded as a tsukihiza (knee touch down), it’s one of the non-winning moves (more or less, a losing move). Takayasu looks quite iffy right now. At least he can bank 2 wins in 2 days, but his fans all need to hope he’s not too hurt, and can get his sumo together.

Kakuryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Wow, Kakuryu is looking very solid right now. He accepted Kotoshogiku’s invitation to go chest to chest, and Kotoshogiku engaged in as much hug-n-chug as he could muster. But in true Kakuryu form, he kept shifting his weight from foot to foot, preventing Kotoshogiku from pumping with both legs. As his rocking motion increased, he danced Kotoshogiku to the tawara and followed through with a classic uwatenage. Excellent form by Kakuryu today.

Hakuho defeats Shodai – No cartoon sumo for Shodai today. No anvils, Acme brand giant magnets or pianos dropping from the sky. The first time through, Hakuho launches for the kill straight off the line, with the gyoji screaming matta and chasing him down. Hakuho follows through and puts Shodai out (that’s how you do it), but they are going to try again. What was fun about the second match was it was more or less identical to the first. Hakuho wins, and looked quite solid doing it.

8 thoughts on “Nagoya Day 2 Highlights

  1. Giku seemed to glance toward the shimpan, hoping for a mono-ii. I thought Kakuryu’s foot stepped out on a first viewing but on a replay, it was not. Anyway, I still think he needs another tool in his toolbox but I have been pleasantly surprised at Kotoshogiku’s quality sumo of late.

  2. Goeido’s relying on mind games and dodges already. That says a lot about his mental state. Tamawashi is known for going straight forward, so I’m not surprised to see him do what he did today. But, this type of sumo won’t help him win against other higher ranked opponents. He still has a rough road ahead of him to get to eight wins.

    I agree about your analysis of Abi, Bruce. I’m wondering if Ryuuden is going to have the better career over the long term because he’s had to confront his weaknesses much more abruptly than Abi did. It’s never good to be a one trick pony in the top division.

    Along with Arawashi, I’m wondering if we’ve seen the last hurrahs for Yoshikaze, Chiyoshoma, and Shohozan. The latter still has a lot of fight in him, but he keeps hitting the glass celing of the Joi. We’ll have to see how he does the rest of the tournament.

    Also, I think the bottom of the division is going to be a churning mess of flotsam and jetsam for a couple of years. Heck, I can almost say that about all of Juryo in general at this point. It’s exciting to see as a fan and I imagine it’s motivating for the rikishi.

    • For the last Hurrahs, I thought Tochiozan was done last tournament but the first two bouts this tournament have been encouraging. Given that, I’m hopeful for the four you’ve mentioned. I don’t get worried until they’re in Juryo.

  3. Today, the gyoji were notably diligent in calling matta. I think this is a good thing. I was entertained when the gyoji chased after Hakuho, possibly to explain the reason for the matta. I was also entertained when the gyoji called a hand fault against Goeido.

    As Bruce noted, Hakuho used exactly the same attack against Shodai — and Shodai completely fell for it. A little embarrassing for Shodai, no?

    Hakuho made it look very easy to beat Shodai. Either Shodai is a cream puff, or we can say Hakuho is ready to rumble!

    • And with apologies to Shodai, whose sumo I enjoy, I really really really hope it’s the latter. I can remember when Tiger Woods got lost in his own head after personal drama and never came out again. I don’t need to see another GOAT go down that path. I am not sure Hakuho’s got enough in the tank to get to 2020, but I can sure hope right now.

    • The thing with Shodai – and I think the reason why both Hakuho and Kakuryu love him as a practice partner – is that he has a horrible tachiai but very good technique once he survives that. So when a yokozuna practices with him, the yokozuna can go easy on the tachiai, allowing Shodai to engage, then enjoys a challenging practice. But in real bouts, Hakuho knows very well that if he wins the tachiai he wins the bout. Or maybe that if he lets Shodai survive the tachiai, what follows next is going to be very challenging. So he flew into Shodai both times like a cannonball and made sure he never finished straightening up before he was out of the ring. I think this was the reason he was so blatantly not touching his fists to the ground. But with his natural speed, he didn’t actually need that, as the second attempt showed.

      If Shodai learns to do a springing tachiai, he’ll be yokozuna at some point. Until then, he will remain in the “almost, but not quite” regions of Makuuchi.

  4. I like how Kotoeko’s making his opponents WORK for their wins. This man is no pushover, and even if he doesn’t get his winning record this time, I don’t think we’ll have seen the last of him.

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