Payback was delivered, in full and with gusto today. It was amazing to watch on TV, but it was absolutely mesmerizing in person in the Kokugikan as 20,000 people yelled in amazement and congratulations for a win well earned. Details below.
Kotonowaka defeats Kiribayama – Kotonowaka landed a beautiful head slap moments after the tachiai, and that seemed to give him control over the shape of battle. Again and again, Kotonowaka focuses his attacks at Kiribayama’s head, but Kiribayama kept his cool, and kept pace. At one point they locked up with Kiribayama holding a nodowa, and that seemed to really energize Kotonowaka, who responded with a roundhouse blow to face, stunning Kiribayama and knocking him down. Ugly match.
Kaisei defeats Tokushoryu – Kaisei kept his hand on Tokushoryu’s shoulders, and moved forward with power. In spite of Tokushoryu almost comically low center of gravity, he could not withstand Kaisei rush.
Azumaryu defeats Tochiozan – Azumaryu got the better of the tachiai, landing an inside grip and forcing Tochiozan to reset. In that moment, Azumaryu executed a perfectly timed pull which sent Tochiozan to the clay. Remember dear readers – pulling doesn’t work, until it does.
Shimanoumi defeats Ikioi – Ikioi got inside at the tachiai, but was left too high, and with Shimanoumi attacking his arm-pits, leaving him unable to further exploit his position. Time and again, Ikioi’s superior strength was blunted by his poor body position, with Shimanoumi able to stay low and keep pushing ahead. The match ended when Shimanoumi released forward pressure and sent Ikioi tumbling.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoshogiku – What’s left of Kotoshogiku’s lower body is little more than gristle and scar tissue at this point, and its a poor platform for sumo. Kotoshogiku gave it a valiant try, but was out-maneuvered by Terutsuyoshi, and that finishing throw attempt looked like it collapsed Kotoshogiku’s right knee. The crowd gasped, but he managed to get up and walk away.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyomaru – You know, I have watched Kotoeko take a whole lot of punishment and keep fighting. Today Chiyomaru started strong, but found Kotoeko repeatedly outputting 20% more in response. Overwhelmed and by Kotoeko, Chiyomaru stepped over the bales.
Tsurugisho defeats Chiyotairyu – Tsurugisho absorbed Chiyotairyu’s tachiai, and was able to keep his footing enough to take Chiyotairyu to his chest. Neither man could find the other’s belt, and a leaning stalemate ensued. Tsurugisho lifted Chiyotairyu and advanced for the win. Not an easy proposition.
Kagayaki defeats Ishiura – Ishiura was off the shikiri-sen first, but could not match Kagayaki’s balance or strength. Kagayaki stayled low and moving forward, and Ishiura found himself with an 0-2 start to Hatsu.
Sadanoumi defeats Takanosho – Takanosho looked to focus his hands high, aiming for Sadanoumi’s head and an attempt to pull him down. Sadanoumi focused on getting a left hand outside grip and using that to execute a throw (Uwatedashinage).
Ryuden defeats Yutakayama – This match hinged on Ryuden’s deep left hand outside grip, that one attached to Yutakayama’s mawashi was unbreakable. Some rather impressive counter-moves by Yutakayama to escape came to nothing, and Ryduen backed Yutakayama to the bales and stepped him out. Ryuden advances to 1-1.
Aoiyama defeats Shohozan – A favorite Aoiyama opening gambit, stand your opponent up, and then slap him down. Big Dan opens Hatsu with 2-0.
Tochinoshin defeats Onosho – Tochinoshin got his preferred shallow left hand grip at the tachiai. Although it was not a prelude to a heroic lift-and-shift, he managed to exploit Onosho’s storied poor balance to stand him up and drive him out with firm thrust to the torso. Tochinoshin picks up his first win of the basho.
Takarafuji defeats Meisei – Textbook Takarafuji tactics. Stay in the fight past the tachiai, and counter anything your opponent throws at you. Control the center of the dohyo and work to wear them down. Meisei showed some great sumo in this match, but Takarafuji was on his game today, and showed Meisei the exit.
Shodai defeats Enho – I thought it might have been a matta, given how early and hard Enho jumpped, but the goyji probably assumed it was just another Shodai tachiai that no one understands. The brief window Enho had to establish control slipped by as Shodai grabbed the knot at the back of Enho’s mawashi, placing Enho’s head under his left arm. Normally this is Enho’s happy place, but Shodai out powered down to a seated position for the win. They classified it an uwatenage, and I guess that’s close enough.
Daieisho defeats Myogiryu – The defining feature of this match was the high velocity windmill style slaps exchanged at the tachiai. From slaps to thrusts, the fight favored Daieisho who took apart Myogiryu a piece at a time. Daieisho picks up his first win of Hatsu.
Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi owned the opening moments of this fight, taking control and putting pressure on Asanoyama’s neck and face. After Asanoyama’s failed pulling attempt, we saw Tamawashi try his “arm-breaker” hold, but it failed miserably, leaving Asanoyama behind Tamawashi, and Tamawashi found himself escorted swiftly out. Asanoyama improves to 2-0.
Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – Takayasu found a favored left hand inside grip at the tachiai, but really seemed to be lacking enough power to do much with it. After testing Takayasu for a moment, Okinoumi broke Takayasu’s grip and tried to pull Takayasu down. Takayasu’s balance was solid enough that he was able to remain upright, and drove forward for the win. With two days worth of sumo now from Takayasu, its clear he’s still not even close to full power.
Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – Hokutofuji’s nodowa attack missed its first attempt, but connected the second time and finished Takakeisho before he could mount any real offense. 2-0 start for Hokutofuji, who is looking strong.
Mitakeumi defeats Goeido – Goeido’s opening gambit to go for a shallow left hand grip failed, but left Mitakeumi with his heels on the tawara. But in a moment of poor timing, Goeido’s finishing shove missed its mark and Mitakeumi surged forward. Goeido then attempted to pull Mitakeumi down, which simply aided the former Sekiwake to power the Ozeki out of the ring. Mitakeumi picks up his first win of Hatsu, while Goeido starts 0-2.
Endo defeats Hakuho – Ah, sweet payback indeed. During the Kyushu basho, Hakuho delivered a brutal (but entirely within the rules) forearm uppercut to Endo during their day 12 match. The YDC took a look at it and decided that Hakuho’s opponents “needed to try harder”. Into that role stepped Endo, who took the Yokozuna to task today, and frankly pieced his costume of invincibility. Hakuho unleashed plan A, B, C, and at least D. But Endo was not going down, and was not going to quit. It was wild, chaotic and brilliant sumo. The kimarite is list as Kirikaeshi, which is a kendo term for more or less hacking your opponent to bits. Aptly put. Two kinboshi in 2 days, wow. The look of satisfaction on Endo’s face was amazing. The Kokugikan erupted in cheers and the cushions went flying. The most amazing bout I have ever seen with my own two eyes.
Kakuryu defeats Abi – After the match between Hakuho and Endo, the final match of the day could not help to be little more than a footnote. Abi got his double arm neck attack at the tachiai, but as expected Kakuryu made sure Abi had maximum forward pressure and then stepped aside.