It seems to have been monoii day in the Kokugikan, and the judges had plenty to say about an unusually large number of matches; possibly because there were so many attempted pull down / slap down wins at the tawara that were more or less a photo finish. The sumo today was chaotic and sloppy, with even some tried and true rikishi giving us moments to wonder what was going on. This is probably all part of the ring rust removal process, and by the end of act 1, everyone should be tuned up and back in fighting form.
Yoshikaze defeats Kotoyuki – Straightforward match that ended when Kotoyuki succumbed to a slippiotoshi. Still, its Yoshikaze’s third win to start Aki. Please note this win total exceeds his total in Nagoya. We have yet to see the berserker really attack, but that may be coming in week two.
Chiyomaru defeats Ishiura – Ishiura tried a hit-and-shift opening, but Chiyomaru kept his balance focused. Past that opening gambit, Ishiura did not seem to have much of a plan, and Chiyomaru took a firm hold of his opponent and marched forward for his first win of Aki.
Nishikigi defeats Takanoiwa – Nishikigi starting Aki 3-0? What the hell did they put in his chanko? Nishikigi showed much better sumo, advancing strongly against Takanoiwa’s tachiai. Recognizing he was in trouble, Takanoiwa tried for a pull-down but couldn’t stay in the ring long enough to win. Go Nishikigi!
Kyokutaisei defeats Daieisho – Kyokutaisei finally scores his first white star of Aki. Sadly in the act of delivering the tottari that won the match, Kyokutaisei seems to have injured his ankle pivoting into the throw.
Sadanoumi Defeats Aoiyama – Odd little match that featured Aoiyama applying a hearty storm of thrusts to Sadanoumi, but when they reached the tawara, and it looked like Aoiyama was about to win, he seemed to almost throw himself. The judges called a monoii, and talked it over, deciding that Aoiyama dropped first and awarding the match to Sadanoumi. Aoiyama remains winless.
Kotoshogiku defeats Daishomaru – Kotoshogiku is also undefeated, and has been fighting well for the first 3 days. At Maegashira 8, his skill level is equal to or beyond all of his opponents, with the deciding factor being how well his body is holding up. At the moment it seems to be holding up pretty well.
Hokutofuji defeats Takarafuji – Handshake tachiai from Hokutofuji into a brutal nodowa kept Takarafuji from generating any offense in the match. Once the right hand was at Takarafuji’s throat, it was all Hokutofuji, who also starts Aki 3-0.
Onosho defeats Tochiozan – Onosho gets his first win of Aki while looking strong and focused against Tochiozan, who drops to 0-3. Both of these rikishi are underperforming massively, and I hope they can rally in act 2.
Shohozan defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki took early command of this match, and initiated a tsuppari train against a surprisingly defensive Shohozan. Kagayaki continued to blast away, with Shohozan not even trying to land a single blow. Having had enough, Shohozan landed a couple of double arm forearm blasts that sent Kagayaki reeling, then took a hold and pushed the man in the bronze mawashi out for his second win.
Asanoyama defeats Abi – Abi uses his typical and anticipated double arm thrusting attack straight out of the tachiai. But while his upper body and face are taking punishment, we once again see Asanoyama’s lower body with its associated battle bridge continue to advance. Asanoyama times a move in between Abi’s thrusts, puts his hands center mass, and shoves. Asanoyama is also 3-0 to start Aki.
Myogiryu defeats Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni won the tachiai, but was too low and too far forward. Myogiryu’s experience led him to drive forward strongly, coming over the top of Chiyonokuni and wrapping him up. Now hurtling backward, Chiyonokuni tried a pull but it just made his position worse, and he stepped out before Myogiryu exited. Solid, patient sumo from Myogiryu today.
Shodai defeats Endo – Endo was too low at the tachiai, and could never find his balance. Shodai overpowered him, and Endo found himself quickly in the wrong part of the dohyo. A desperate pull at the edge failed, and both men went out. A monoii was called, and the match went to Shodai, who picks up his first win for Aki. Endo has an unfortunate 0-3 start.
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – A double match, the first one was inconclusive with both rikishi touching down / out at roughly the same time. Attempt 1 featured Mitakumi keeping daylight between himself and Tamawashi, denying the Mongolian challenger any avenue to attempt a kotenage. Second match saw Mitakeumi drive chest to chest against Tamawashi, completely disrupting him. Mitakeumi also starts Aki with 3-0.
Takayasu defeats Chiyotairyu – The expected bone crushing tachiai was delivered, with Chiyotairyu knocking the Ozeki off balance and advancing strongly. Takayasu recovered by shifting left and using Chiyotairyu’s strong advance to power his slap down. Takayasu starts Aki 3-0, Chiyotairyu 0-3.
Goeido defeats Ichinojo – Goeido’s cannonball tachiai was stopped dead by the mass of Ichinojo, but Ichinojo’s attempt at an arm bar left him turned, and Goeido reached behind and pushed him out. Good, efficient and minimal sumo from Goeido. This was Ichinojo’s mistake.
Takakeisho defeats Tochinoshin – Takakeisho brilliantly escapes Tochinoshin’s left hand mawashi grab, which leaves the Ozeki too far forward and off balance. Takakeisho’s lighting fast reflexes see him shift and push, sending Tochinoshin to the clay. Great sumo from Takakeisho today.
Hakuho defeats Kaisei – Hakuho lands a left hand outside grip early, and he steers Kaisei around in spite of the Brazilians weight advantage. The Yokozuna keeps leading the dance until Kaisei is far enough off balance that Hakuho manages to piece together a shitatenage. Whatever Hakuho’s physical problems might be, he seems to be working through them for now.
Kakuryu defeats Ikioi – The master of reactive sumo shows his skill once more. Kakuryu perfectly times a side-step against Ikioi’s charge and sends Ikioi face first into the tawara.
Kisenosato defeats Yutakayama – Kisenosato jumped a bit early, and a matta was called. On the second try, Yutakayama really took the fight to the Yokozuna, but Kisenosato was heavy once again today and masterfully stood his ground. Nothing Yutakayama tried today could move Kisenosato from the center of the dohyo. As Yutakayama began to tire, the Yokozuna took over and began to advance. This is the Kisenosato of old! Look at how his feet barely left the clay, and Yutakayama was powerless to stop his advance. Realizing he was running out of dohyo, Yutakayama began twisting, trying to find an escape from the Yokozuna’s iron grip for an opening to load a throw. To his credit, Yutakayama rallied well and almost pulled it off, but Kisenosato was ready and swung him down at the edge. But of course there was a monoii! Maybe the best match of the basho thus far. Fantastic sumo.