It was monoii Tuesday as the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan declared a Shimpan parade, and the elders of the sumo world dutifully complied. Too many of today’s upper division matches were fast, simple pushy/slappy/pull down affairs. Yep, there was a winner in each match, but the level of ABE (aggregate battle energy) was shockingly low today.
When I am so fortunate to be in Tokyo for a day like this, the proper way to confront it is with two of the largest beers that can be purchased from the glorious food vendors, one for each half of the top division matches. Just enjoy the environment, the fine beer, and take lots of photos.
Tochiozan defeats Takagenji – Both men went for the others shoulders and neck, slapping and thrusting, with little overall effect. It wasn’t until Tochiozan began thrusting against Takagenji’s exposed chest (he was busy working on Tochiozan’s head) that the senior rikishi landed on solid thrust to the chest which ended this match. Everyone looked sloppy in this match.
Azumaryu defeats Yutakayama – A pair of 2-0 records going into this, it was going a bit of a decider. Azumaryu got the better of the tachiai, and was able to keep his hips and shoulders square to his line of attack. Yutakayama, did not, and soon found himself off tempo, out of step and then off balance.
Ishiura defeats Toyonoshima – Toyonoshima started with a strong tachiai and huge forward pressure. Ishiura caught the larger man, braced against the pressure, then turned it aside. Solid strategy from Ishiura, and a well earned win.
Tsurugisho defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi was a bit too far forward at the tachiai, Tsurugisho read this well, and dropped him to the clay.
Kagayaki defeats Daishoho – As with the match before, Kagayaki caught Daishoho’s tachiai, and then dropped him when Daishoho’s body was too far forward.
Onosho defeats Shohozan – Onosho looking more like his pre-injury self, with a laser like focus on Shohozan’s center-mass, and relentless drive forward. Maybe that red mawashi is starting to work.
Enho defeats Kotoyuki – Kotoyuki gets to lose in his favorite way, and ends up deep in the zabuton section where the plays a courtesy call to the fans. Enho stayed very low, leaving only parts of his neck and head for Kotoyuki to attack. Enho dodged a couple of solid attacks, and stayed mobile. Kotoyuki may have had a grip on Enho’s hair, but in the end it did not matter. Fire Pixie is 3-0 to start.
Meisei defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi is still struggling to find white stars, maybe it’s the all too familiar curse of the NHK Grand Sumo Preview interview. Today he fought Meisei well, but struggled to keep his footing, and his body positioned with his front to his opponent. Maybe some ring-rust still to go.
Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – A simple match that had Sadanoumi advancing and struggling to keep his feet long enough for Takarafuji to touch out, but the Gyoji and the Monoii gave the win to Takarafuji. *There were a LOT of Monoii today
Okinoumi defeats Kotoeko – Okinoumi has been showing a great deal of patience this year, and it was on display today. Kotoeko presented a series of attack gambits, and Okinoumi worked to deflect them all and stay close, waiting for Kotoeko to make a mistake.
Kotoshogiku defeats Myogiryu – A battle of strength at the tachiai that stood both men up. Myogiryu worked to turn the Kyushu Bulldozer, which nearly took him face first into the crowd. Instead, Kotoshogiku used the gap to land a solid left hand inside grip and set up shop. The hug-n-chug was activated and he lowered his blade for the win.
Ryuden defeats Shimanoumi – Ryuden got the better of the tachiai, but threw away that advantage with an pulling attempt, which let Shimanoumi get inside and underneath. To his credit, Ryuden took his time and found his left hand mawashi grip, and raised up Shimanoumi to march him out.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shodai – Shodai tried some of his escape tricks today, but the thundering buffalo that is Chiyotairyu kept up the pressure, and Shodai ran out of places to dodge into.
Tomokaze defeats Tamawashi – I was surprised that Tamawashi let himself get too far forward, and then pulled down by Tomokaze. That’s twice he’s done that to someone just in the first 3 days of this basho.
Abi defeats Daieisho – Standard Abi-zumo today. A blistering double-arm oshi attack that left Daieisho completely reactive, and unprepared for Abi’s slap down. Because they exited in flight together, we get yet another monoii.
Takakeisho defeats Asanoyama – I ran this match several different ways in my mind. Most of the outcomes flowed from Asanoyama landing that left hand at the tachiai, and putting Takakeisho in a nearly unbreakable tadpole hold. In fact you can see that Asanoyama puts all of his opening energy into that left, but it misses its mark high, and leaves him off balance. Takakeisho’s sumo sense is good enough that he helps Asanoyama continue his poor choice to its logical and necessary conclusion. While I was hoping for a battle here of clashing styles, I am happy that Takakeisho gets to rack his 3rd win of the basho.
Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo’s gambit to go for an immediate pull down at the tachiai was easy to predict, and it looks like Mitakeumi was prepared for that half hop back to re-center his weight. The failed pull left the Boulder high and an easy mark for Mitakeumi to blast ahead for the win.
Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Multiple false starts, Tochinoshin was a mess of nervous energy, and betrayed an intention to henka in one false start. But the match got off the 3rd time and Hokutofuji’s “handshake tachiai” failed to find its mark. Tochinoshin drove his right hand inside and found a grip. Moments later his lethal left found its outside grip, and fans got a thrill as Tochinoshin powered up the skycrane and went to work. Are you glad he finally got a win? I think I am too.
Endo defeats Goeido – Goeido had the better tachiai. but master technician Endo shifted right, breaking the Ozeki’s force-line and blunting Goeido’s right hand grip. Knowing his right was worthless now, Goeido pulled a spin using his left hand mawashi grip, but Endo kept his feet and used the Ozeki’s motion to improve his hold, finding a double-inside grip in time. Great technical sumo from these two.
Kakuryu defeats Aoiyama – Kakuryu’s reactive sumo pays out again. He catches Aoiyama’s tachiai, which is not quite on-balance, and then just helps the man-mountain continue his motion down to the clay. Win #3 for the lone surviving Yokozuna.