Aki Day 1 Comments & Highlights

Aki Day 1 Toys

My thanks to Herouth and Josh for their excellent discussion and commentary overnight for day 1. It was a great day of sumo, that included a lot of intense action, and brilliant moves. I continue to believe that we are in a sumo “golden age” for at least a little bit longer, and I will savor every match that features such long-serving talent and such bright new skill. You can find the full live-blog transcript here.

First and foremost, let’s clear the decks and say that Kisenosato won his first match of Aki. It was fairly straightforward sumo. He landed his left hand and drove forward. Ikioi put up a good fight, and frankly Kisenosato was quite a bit higher than we might expect to see him, but the Yokozuna had enough power to make it work. He did not look good, but he did look good-enough for now. I expect him to have quite a bit of ring rust to blast away before we see anything approaching his prior form.

The Yoshikaze / Chiyoshoma match was a stunner. Chiyoshoma had the upper hand and was driving Yoshikaze back and out, when the Berserker rallied and delivered an unbelievable utchari at the edge. Chiyoshoma was looking for a monoii, as was I, but none was called and the results stood. Look at that left foot as he swings Chiyoshoma up and over. The man has the strength, skill and ring sense to inch it back forward to keep his heel inside until Chiyoshoma becomes a “dead body”. One thing was clear from the HD feed coming from NHK-G, Yoshikaze has a hideous rash all over his body, leading me to wonder if cause of his impairment might be a painful case of adult chickenpox (shingles).

Takanoiwa looked like he completely out-matched Ryuden. Ryuden’s gambit utterly failed, and Takanoiwa took command and disposed of Ryuden like a spent takoyaki tray outside of Lawson’s.

I continue to like what I see from Hokutofuji, watch that tachiai! Notice how he leads with his right hand out from the tachiai. Even if he is a half-step behind for some reason, that right hand is already inside. He has been refining this move for a while, and he’s just getting better and better at it. It also acts as a counterbalance that allows him to get very low off the shikiri-sen.

Kagayaki seems to have tweaked him mawashi color, and it’s almost iridescent now. Kagayaki picked up right where he stopped in Nagoya. He continues to become more calm, refined and operating strongly on fundamentals. Onosho is, in my book, still recovering from surgery, and is looking a bit chaotic. I am chalking it up to ring rust.

Abi seems to have pulled Chiyonokuni down twice, which means that Chiyonokuni bounced off the clay. Abi did a minor variation of his two-hand tachiai. Ok, so he’s getting creative, but I think that’s not quite what is needed. But this was 100% Abi-zumo.

The EndoIchinojo bout is a study in Ichinojo. It gets underway with Endo being very busy, attacking Ichinojo more or less at will. Ichinojo ends up with his heels on the tawara. This is where he usually gives up, but instead something flips in his sumo and he turns into this monster. He had Endo in an off-balance grip and simply flexes his enormous muscles and flings all 150 kg around and then pushes Endo down by the neck. I could see an expression flash across Ichinojo’s face that translates to “Bad Pony!”.

I am delighted to report that Shodai’s tachiai was not a train-wreck on day 1, and had Mitakeumi struggling to recover. But recover he did and sent Shodai packing. Once again it looks like Mitakeumi phones in the practice matches and brings the actual sumo out for honbasho. Mitakeumi stayed glued to Shodai’s center-mass, and that is what won that match.

The ChiyotairyuTochinoshin tachiai registered as a Hokkaido aftershock, as it was loud and painful. Tochinoshin was able to back Chiyotairyu up, and apply a lift-and-shift finish, but it looked like it hurt him to do so. We know Tochinoshin is going to gamberize like mad, so we just hope he can hold it together until he can rack his 8th.

Freshman class leader Yutakayama effectively stalemated Ozeki Takayasu, who once again used that terrible shoulder-blast tachiai. But after going chest to chest, Yutakayama could not keep the Ozeki from advancing and simply plowing Yutakayama out.

Kaisei was not in the least bit intimidated by Goeido, and put his massive body to good use: driving forward with so much force Goeido was powerless to do anything other than lose.

Hakuho’s match? Pure speed. Blink and you miss it.

Takakeisho looked vague and rusty against Kakuryu, who stayed calm and kept the match on his terms.

We end day 1 with all of the Yokozuna and Ozeki winning, except for Goeido. Order and balance is established in the basho, and the young up-and-comers are going to have their hands full this time. With the senior ranks out in full, the score inflation of the Maegashira and lower san’yaku will be curtailed. This will be a great basho to watch as I still think the new forces are continuing to pick apart the old guard.

13 thoughts on “Aki Day 1 Comments & Highlights

  1. I still disagree with you about the Shingles.

    First, the typical Shingles rash is in the form of streaks – the rash is very localized. It’s entirely unlike Chicken Pox in that respect. That’s why I said the only way to hide something like that is if the streak aligns with the mawashi. Yoshikaze seems to have something fairly evenly-distributed.

    I also wonder if he would have been competing at all if he had something contagious. Gambarizing is one thing, but risking the other rikishi, their families and possibly the spectators he falls on is quite another.

    Anyway, the other reason is that in the previous basho he was as smooth as Hakuho’s butt.

    Sometimes, a rash is just a rash. But how about disseminated granuloma annulare? It’s a possible symptom of diabetes.

    • oh gawd! maybe whatever it is has now stabilised, he could be reacting to medication? heaven knows i do! boy oh boy what a genki display from our boy!
      my hokkaido boys a little distracted (understatement of the century) but given recent events on my beloved island i have no doubt major concerns re family/friends has them a little rattled. i know they will regroup and do it for Hokkaido as they’ve both said recently. Hokutofuji brilliant, Ichinojo what a day! Kaisei take a bow! my dark horse of the tournament off to a flying start… kagayaki! and Kise… smiling just thinking about it!

  2. I didn’t see it on the live blog, but as expected, the level of competition definitely went up for Hoshoryu and Naya in Makushita…

  3. Cheeky face slap from Hakuho – has he now decided to ignore the YDC’s “advice” and do things his way?

  4. As his heels touched the tawara, Ichinojo quickly calculated that Endo’s envelopes equate to roughly 1.2 SI units (systeme Ichinojo) of ice cream.

  5. Glad to see Hokutofuji on the comeback trail. I like the way he conducts himself. Asanoyama and Yutakayama look like the real deal, too.

  6. I was cheering for both Ichinojo and Endo. Good bout.
    My man Kaisei kept that forward momentum. I think this clip from the movie
    ‘Heat’ sums up his match against Goeido: https://youtu.be/7LAblCUHfy4?t=122

    Tochinoshin off to a strong start. Lifts 192kg up and out like a 22kg bag of potatoes.

    That Yoshikaze move probably isn’t a technique anyone wants to try more than once. He’s
    going to feel that in the morning. Ouch.


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