Several of the “no win” rikishi were able to score their first white star today, but in general the energy level of the matches felt a notch or two above the first 3 days of the basho. This is the period when everyone should have fairly good stamina reserves, and be over their ring rust. I suspect that many of them were out singing karaoke till late, and are maybe a bit hung-over to boot. Except for Asanoyama, who strikes me as the awkward kid that everyone assumes someone else already texted about the party.
Then there was the odd streak of Oguruma rikishi all trying to pull down their opponents, and not even very well executed pulls. Most of these moves were, “Hell, I give up, let’s try this cheap kimarite”. To this I say, “hakke-yoi!” Put your back into it, boys! Oguruma is going to be a big deal for a few years, fight like you have some vigor!
Yutakayama defeats Chiyoshoma – An odd little match that almost seemed more dance than battle. Both men kept a good amount of air gap going, with Chiyoshoma looking completely ineffective. Frankly the intensity was pretty far down relative to what these two are capable of.
Kotoeko defeats Enho – Welcome to the top division, Enho! Folks who get to see him for the first time today are going to be thrilled at the potential of this dynamic rikishi and his high intensity sumo. I was impressed that the same moves that have been conquering all in Juryo were not quite sufficient against Kotoeko, who was an excellent opponent for Enho. Once Enho locked that left hand on Kotoeko’s mawashi, Kotoeko loaded and executed a kotenage, using Enho’s iron grip and outstretched arm as the lever. Well executed!
Daishoho defeats Tomokaze – Tomokaze started well, but then decided it was all about the pull down. Daishoho shook the first one off, but when Tomokaze decided to try it again, it was far too easy to just hatakikomi the Oguruma man instead. When your opponent is in the process of putting himself in a bad position, you should always help him lose. Tomokaze is on kimarite probation for now – no more pulls for you.
Ishiura defeats Kagayaki – In what universe are we now, that Ishiura can start Osaka 4-0? Kagayaki has absolutely nothing right now. He looks slow, uncommitted to his offensive strategy, and expecting to be put on defense almost at the tachiai. Today’s mistake was not insuring that keeping Ishiura in front of him the #1 element of the bout. He’s small, fast and likes to not be there when your “best attack” gets unleashed.
Toyonoshima defeats Yoshikaze – Battle of the vintage sumo stars looked more like a practice match or keiko. Toyonoshima stays low and advances smartly. I do love Yoshikaze, but he’s fading out so badly now, it’s kind of depressing to watch.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Meisei – Finally, Terutsuyoshi gets his first win. It was not flashy, it was kind of mild, but it was a win.
Sadanoumi defeats Ryuden – Sadanoumi also racks up his first win of the tournament. Again, another somewhat obligatory match that seemed to lack much in the way of vigor.
Asanoyama defeats Yago – I think we found the two rikishi that did not stay up to 2:00 AM singing karaoke! Both of them put a lot of effort into this match – Yago got the morozashi but could not turn it to his advantage, as Asanoyama kept Yago from establishing stable footing. Loss came when yet another Oguruma rikishi decides he wants to pull down his opponent when he is in a weak position.
Kotoshogiku defeats Shohozan – Kotoshogiku starts 4-0? He won again today in spite of the fact that Shohozan had a clear jump on him at the tachiai. But for whatever reason, “Big Guns” leapt right into Kotoshogiku’s waiting embrace. From there, Shohozan was bagged, tagged and shagged.
Takarafuji defeats Ikioi – Ikioi is now using an ankle / foot support bootie, as his injuries accumulate. Takarafuji got his preferred grip, and the hugely strong Ikioi could not generate much pressure, thanks to that injured foot being in the “anchor” position to resist Takarafuji’s grip. The extent of the problem is seen at the bales as Ikioi wisely releases before that ankle can be twisted by any last-ditch push to stave off defeat.
Chiyotairyu defeats Aoiyama – Chiyotairyu’s normally overpower tachiai was met by the long arms of Aoiyama. Failing to get inside of Aoiyama’s flailing doom-paddles, Chiyotairyu throws anything he can think of, and gets a lucky push that sees Aoiyama hit the clay movements before Chiyotairyu does.
Abi defeats Tochiozan – Abi picks up his first win of the basho, and extends his unbeaten streak against Tochiozan.
Ichinojo defeats Okinoumi – They go chest to chest at the tachiai, and Ichinojo has a left hand outside grip. But the Mongolian’s preposterous girth prevents Okinoumi’s hand from finding fabric. With his elbow’s clamped tight, Ichinojo pins Okinoumi in place, and begins what looks like a painful dance. With Okinoumi looking increasingly uncomfortable, Ichinojo stops and, I swear this is what it looks like, attempts to “open” Okinoumi like a twist off top beer bottle. Disappointed to find no delicious frothy liquid inside, Ichinojo tosses “Botonoumi” aside, leaving him in an appropriate position for Wednesday’s recycling crew to tidy up.
Onosho defeats Shodai – My prediction: Shodai will finish Haru 4-11, and be promoted to Maegashira 3 East. Right now Shodai has shown zero working sumo for Haru, even though he has dominated Onosho in some prior matches. Onosho finishes Shodai with a bit of a “windmill” flourish for added measure. Shodai knows it, too, and looks embarrassed and frustrated.
Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai pays off at first, as he lands a nodowa that shuts Takakeisho down. But Takakeisho, unable to reach Hokutofuji, thinks his way out of it by taking a half step back, breaking the grip. Immediately he turns on the “wave action” tsuppari attack engine, and gets to work while Hokutofuji unwisely tries to regain a throat hold. This leaves Hokutofuji unbalanced, and Takakeisho’s lightning fast reflexes capitalizes on Hokutofuji’s mistake to send him to the clay. This is a recurring theme with dear Hokutofuji – he seems to rely a bit much on his nodowa, and his eagerness to maintain that leaves broad avenues for counterattack.
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Well, Tamawashi is having a crummy basho. Before we feel sorry for him, think back 2 months and remember he gets all of those mushrooms, plus an entire cow. Mitakeumi continues to look damn near immovable once he gets his offense running. Even his one loss, to Ozeki Takayasu, was a huge struggle for the winner. To my eyes, Mitakeumi is back to looking a lot like an Ozeki.
Tochinoshin defeats Nishikigi – Tochinoshin fans around the world breathe a huge sigh of relief as it is clear that Nishikigi’s kami is enjoying spring break in Okinawa, and has left our Cinderella man high and dry. Nishikigi did make him work for it, and the fact that he stalemated the Ozeki at the bales for a time should keep Tochinoshin’s boosters on pins and needles.
Goeido defeats Kaisei – This GoeiDOS 2.2 software looks to be a fantastic build. Kaisei was just saying his “konichi-wa”, and he ends up flat on his generous, hairy backside. I think we all agree – Healthy Goeido is the best Goeido.
Takayasu defeats Endo – Hey, look at that! Takayasu forgoes the shoulder blast, and is able to move straight into attack mode without having to reset his stance. Endo seems to have been expecting the shoulder blast, and is braced up absorb it, and instead finds himself under a solid osha-attack. Endo is still winless. Today’s match is a glimmer of hope for future-Takayasu, I predict.
Hakuho defeats Daieisho – I am impressed that Daieisho had “The Boss” on the run, and seemed to be applying a fair amount of pressure against the Yokozuna. Just as with Hatsu, everyone watching Hakuho fight, and their mental images is this unstoppable sumo machine. But like all apex competitors, he is a master of hiding his injuries and problems. That leap into the zabuton section might have some impact later in the basho. Feel free to study Daieisho’s foot placement and stance in that fight, it’s simply magnificent, and it’s why he was able to back Hakuho up.
Kakuryu defeats Myogiryu – Ladies and Gentlemen – Kakuryu’s reactive sumo on full display. Myogiryu sticks him hard with a nodowa, but like a Yokozuna, Kakuryu’s response is not get to become worried or even try to immediately break the neck hold. He waits, focuses and then advances into the nodowa. This is seldom done, and seems to surprise Myogiryu, who relaxes his grip. The Yokozuna’s hands come under Myogiryu’s arms, and Kakuryu takes over. To quote Andre the Giant from “Princess Bride”, “I just want you to feel like you are doing well…”