Ladies, gentlemen, and rikishi, it’s time for Day 2 highlights! With the stateside team hobbled from accessing live sumo, I’m here in Tokyo and will make a good fist – nay, Aoiyama roundhouse slap – of the commentary today.
Day 2 Highlights
Dohyo-iri & broadcast notes: It’s interesting to see Japanese Nishikigi and Shodai rocking kesho-mawashi with a Mongolian flag on it, since they have to wear Kakuryu’s kesho-mawashi ahead of the Yokozuna’s dohyo-iri. Man of culture Ishiura, free from the burden of similar responsibilities owing to Hakuho being kyujo in this tournament, has a fresh and striking new “Carpe Diem” kesho-mawashi, provided by his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu friends. Kakuryu’s dohyo-iri is executed very nicely.
During the break, Takakeisho appears on TV for an interview in a Takanohana yukata – perhaps someone can make a Takamisugi yukata for him. The Japanese feed today featured someone called “Araiso oyakata” on co-commentary. Must be some new guy they’re testing out. Ross Mihara also points out that hiragana text of the rikishi names is now included in the NHK broadcast, which makes it easier for those learning Japanese to read.
Chiyoshoma defeats Daishoho – Chiyoshoma lands a slap but it’s otherwise an even tachiai, which is deceptive, due to Chiyoshoma’s (lack of) size relative to Daishoho. Chiyoshoma gets a decent grip on his compatriot with both arms inside, Daishoho can’t definitively break his grip and gets shuffled out. Workmanlike win, and one Chiyoshoma needed down at M17.
Ishiura defeats Ikioi – Ikioi in Juryo is just something I don’t want to talk about, but this is some high octane sumo and he appears at least a little more fit at the moment. Ikioi gives it a massive blast at the tachiai and Ishiura, as usual, tries a shift to the side. Ikioi really had the bearing of the smaller man, but Ishiura’s mobility is just too much and he’s able to pull out a yoritaoshi manoeuvre at the edge as both men go out. It’s a beautiful move. Ikioi seems pained by the decision and goes straight to the replay screen to see exactly how it lost it.
Tokushoryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Bulbous Tokushoryu just dominates the smaller Terutsuyoshi. The best the wee man can do here is just give Tokushoryu a big hug. He tries to get in low, but Tokushoryu absorbs him, and uses his leg power to march forward with the Isegahama man locked up. Both men are now at 1-1.
Kotoeko defeats Enho – Enho gets in low and shifts to the right, and seems to initially try to set his legs for a tripping manoeuvre. Kotoeko has him sideways with a grip on the front and back of his mawashi and there’s just nowhere he can go, and Kotoeko marshalls him back – the winning move is oshidashi. Kotoeko worked out if you suffocate Enho’s mobility, he can be dominated. Both of these guys are 1-1 as well.
Chiyomaru defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi is heavily bandaged and you wouldn’t have thought he’s just come off two consecutive yusho in the lower level. Chiyomaru tries his usual mix of pushes followed by pulldown attempts, but it’s not really working for him. Eventually the two men come to a grappling position, but Chiyomaru still wants absolutely no part of his opponent’s mawashi. He levers Shimanoumi up high by getting one arm in under his arm and uses his left to push up on his chest, and with Shimanoumi off balance, he finishes him off. It’s not especially elegant to watch, but that’s Chiyomaru.
Sadanoumi defeats Yago – Sadanoumi bounces off Yago at the tachiai like one of those rubber balls they used to make for bored kids. Yago is doing everything he can to keep Sadanoumi away from him – except he’s doing it moving backwards, and that’s a mistake. Eventually Sadanoumi’s tenacity pays off and Yago has nowhere to go. Sadanoumi gets in under his arms and one thrust is really all it takes at that point to finish the job.
Shohozan defeats Kagayaki – “Tactics” Kagayaki’s game plan seemed to be to match Shohozan, but they don’t teach what Shohozan does in textbooks. With Kagayaki focused on playing Shohozan’s furious slapping game, Shohozan uses both arms to fully lock up Kagayaki and completely blunt his attack. Kagayaki prolongs the inevitable at the tawara as long as possible, but he’s got nothing but homework to do. Big Guns Shohozan is now up to 2-0.
Onosho defeats Tochiozan – Onosho seems to cheat a bit over the shikiri-sen at the tachiai. Despite this, Tochiozan initially has the stronger forward movement, but after absorbing his hit at the tachiai Onosho turns on the thrusters and has this over in 2 or 3 shoves. Anticlimactic. Onosho is also now up to 2-0.
Nishikigi defeats Kaisei – This is a match that looked like it happened at about 15 frames per second. It’s an even, ponderous tachiai. Credit to Kaisei for trying to move forward, but Nishikigi takes a step back and tosses him aside in one smooth motion with a kotenage.
Asanoyama defeats Tomokaze – Beautiful, beautiful throw. Asanoyama pursues his left hand grip as if his name was Tochinoshin. As soon as he gets it, he immediately pulls the throw. Technically, this is a level of sumo Tomokaze won’t have experienced very much at the lower levels. 2-0 start for Asanoyama.
Shodai defeats Takarafuji – Which Shodai do we get today? Shodai stands up at the tachiai and doesn’t really move for about 10 or 15 seconds as he works instead on his arm placement. Eventually he moves forward and Takarafuji, off balance, gets flushed like a porcelain Takara Standard. Takarafuji is usually pretty decent defensively in these exact situations, as he’s better skilled than most at turning a match around from defensive positions with reactive sumo, but his left foot slips and it ends up fairly easy for Shodai.
Yoshikaze defeats Meisei – Meisei takes a running start at the tachiai, but he comes in with his head down. All that the wily veteran Yoshikaze needs to do is take the hit, pivot and let his younger opponent continue his forward movement straight onward into the first few rows of seats. Easy.
Myogiryu defeats Okinoumi – While there’s been a lot of grappling action today, few of the grapplers seem to want much to do with the mawashi. Okinoumi takes Myogiryu head on, neither man gets a belt grip, but Myogiryu is a little more adept in this more traditional wrestling stance and it’s one way traffic. Okinoumi is better on the belt, and Myogiryu keeping him away made this a much more straightforward matchup.
Ryuden defeats Abi – Ryuden gets a much better tachiai but after that it’s all Abi. If you’ve ever seen Abi, I probably don’t have to describe what happens: it’s the classic double straight arm attack. Abi will be upset with himself for coughing this up. He has Ryuden on the ropes and has a couple chances to put him away, but Ryuden often is at his best when he has his back to the tawara. He finds another lever to push forward back into the middle of the ring and Abi’s long legs simply collapse from under him. Ryuden got away with one there but his hair, as usual, is an absolute mess. This was probably the best bout of a straightforward day to this point, until…
Mitakeumi defeats Tamawashi – Epic win for Mitakeumi. Tamawashi looks like he’s maybe lost a bit of thrust from his push and thrust game, but he gave it a lot here. The two men start with a bit of a tussle that has Mitakeumi penning Tamawashi back, and both men keeping each other at long-arms’ length. But when the two men separate, this match is always going to favor Tamawashi. And they do separate about 3 or 4 times, Tamawashi landing a slap and taking a charge at the komusubi. He charges about 4 or 5 times, but Mitakeumi uses his momentum against him and hits the pull down as he’s moving backward. Tamawashi will win this match 9 times out of 10 against a weaker opponent, but Mitakeumi is seasoned, skilled and composed enough to deal with it impressively.
Ichinojo defeats Chiyotairyu – This match initially looks like a bit of a wet blanket after the last one. But actually, they give it a good go. Chiyotairyu’s tachiai just doesn’t really work against the massive Ichinojo, he bounced straight back and ran out of ideas. There’s a bit of handbags, then Ichinojo gets a belt grip he decides he doesn’t really need and just moves forward and shoves the Kokonoe man straight out.
Tochinoshin defeats Daieisho – This one’s a quickie. Daieisho is a bit of an awkward customer for Tochinoshin because his particular style is the kind of sumo that Tochinoshin is vulnerable to generally. Daieisho desperately tries to keep Tochinoshin’s left hand from reaching its intended target, but Tochinoshin homes in on it and once he lands the grip, Daieisho is completely helpless. Tochinoshin has this match won, but picks up the little man at the tawara just for good measure and some good, clean, cheeky fun. 2 down, 8 to go in the Ozeki Challenge.
Goeido defeats Aoiyama – Great match. Aoiyama actually decides to go chest to chest with the ozeki in lieu of his usual twin piston pushing attack. I think this was a good game plan, because with his enormous frame, he’s able to blunt Goeido’s almost unmatched speed and offense from the tachiai. Goeido in worse form (physically or mentally) would have coughed this up, but he’s able to use the big man’s momentum against him and ends up pulling a beltless arm throw. It’s another really lovely throw, in the same bracket as Asanoyama’s from earlier. Goeido 2-0 and looking good.
Takakeisho defeats Kotoshogiku – Takakeisho’s tsukebito gives his back a vigourous scrub before he makes his way into the arena. Here are two guys with two of the most opposing styles you could wish to see. But really, are any of us that different? Kotoshogiku gives Takakeisho the eyes at the tachiai, and survives an early pull down attempt. This is the opposite of the Meisei situation from earlier, as this could have been over much sooner had Kotoshogiku not been watching his opponent. As it happens, however, the shin-ozeki stays centered, making sure his missed pull-down doesn’t create a vulnerable opening for Kotoshogiku to land any kind of grip. He takes control of the match against the former ozeki, landing a couple significant thrusts to the Sadogatake man’s chest and takes the win… and the head to head advantage 3-2.
Takayasu defeats Endo – Something looked not right to me about Takayasu as he prepared for the tachiai. But he got an opponent that was less prepared than he was, and decides to level a tsuki-oshi attack against the most popular Maegashira in the land. Endo would have had some chances to get back into this match given his superior mobility, but could never get his feet set. After Takayasu’s third wave of forward moving attacks it was inevitable that Endo’s fans 6 or 7 rows back were able to get some much desired face time. A dominant win in the end. Kind of like Bowser against someone playing Super Mario for the first time.
Kakuryu defeats Hokutofuji – Kakuryu just absolutely destroys Hokutofuji and there will be no sixth kinboshi today for the Saitama man. It’s possible this match lasted less than two seconds. Hokutofuji launches in from the tachiai, but Kakuryu turns all that energy back on him and returns it forward, getting one hand under his armpit and another one around his neck and winning with one shove. Hokutofuji keeps moving about 15 rows back before he has to turn around and come back and bow to complete the day’s action. Not much shame in that though, the Yokozuna looks in good form, and advances to 2-0.