After some humdrum sumo to start the basho, today featured some hard, brutal matches. Some rikishi continued their winning runs, and few that had not seen their first wins, took a white star with great suno. Fast, brutal and aggressive sumo was on tap today, and it was great to see the rikishi bring their better sumo to the dohyo today. What did we get to see? Big Dan unleashed the V-Twin, Asanoyama reverts to Oshi-zuno, Shohozan unleashed a murderous lunge at the tachiai, Kotoshogiku snuck in a back bend, and the wave-action tsuppari machine washed Endo into the zabuton zone. Oh, and Enho and Yutakayama conducted what I can only assume is some sort of fertility dance.
Daiamami defeats Meisei – Daiamami picks up his first win of Haru. He tried to get a left hand frontal hold at the tachiai, but Meisei did a masterful job of disrupting Daiamami first few attacks. The match was quite even until Meisei attempted to pull Diamami forward from his forearm. His hold on that arm failed and left him off balance and Daiamami pushed him out. Maybe Daiamami is getting used to the empty hall.
Kotonowaka defeats Shimanoumi – Kotonowaka started with a surprisingly lethargic tachiai, and immediately tried to land a right hand inside. Because this is Kotonowaka’s trademark opening gambit, Shimanoumi shut it down. Kotonowaka kept working for grip, and executed a solid sukuinage at the tawara to seal the win. Did anyone else catch Kotoshogiku doing a back bend in in the tunnel in the background of that video? Brought a smile to my face.
Chiyomaru defeats Tsurugisho – Chiyomaru has a strong start to Haru, clearly the atmospherics don’t bother him one bit. He was fast and aggressive out of the tachiai, and once again stood his opponent up, and slapped him down. Chiyomaru improves to 3-0.
Azumaryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi still cant find his first win without his glasses. Nishikigi came off of the shikiri-sen hard and fast, got a grip, but was too far forward. Azumaryu read it perfectly and exploited Nishikigi’s mistake to send him to the clay.
Aoiyama defeats Kotoshogiku – “Big Dan” Aoiyama improves to 3-0 in thunderous style. He blasted off the line and went straight into a V-Twin attack. When Aoiyama attacks with both arms thrusting, and he connects center-mass, there is little anyone or anything can do. I had to watch it twice, it was just so massive.
Ikioi defeats Kaisei – Wow, a strength battle that features Ikioi out powering Kaisei! That’s some serious chanko power, indeed. Both of them fought well, but Ikioi somehow managed to keep his stamina. Sadly Kaisei is still looking for his first win.
Chiyotairyu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyotairyu also starts 3-0, today he took a straight ahead tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, grabbed the back of Terutsuyoshi’s neck and chucked him forward like a bale of rice. Wow.
Ishiura defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan self-isolates into the 0-3 club as Ishiura picks up his 3rd straight win to start Haru. Tochiozan did manage to get some offense running, but Ishiura stayed mobile, and Mr Efficiency was unable to really do much other than chase him around for the first part of the match. Tochiozan eventually captured him and they went chest to chest. Bad mistake for Tochiozan, as Ishiura channels Enho and unleashed a brilliant shitatehineri. Suddenly one moment Tochiozan has Ishiura clamped down, the next he is on his back in the clay. Nice sumo Ishiura!
Takanosho defeats Sadanoumi – A showcase example of Sadanoumi’s tremendous speed, he was inside and attacking Takanosho in a moment at the tachiai. Takanosho worked hard to stop Sadanoumi’s forward rush, and ended with a double inside grip. Realizing he had the advantage, Takanosho dropped his hips and attacked. Three strokes of the gaburi-yori and it was his third solid win, as Takanosho maintains his place in the 3-0 club.
Tochinoshin defeats Kiribayama – I am overjoyed that Tochinoshin found his sumo today, and picked up his first win of Haru. He was fast, hit hard at the tachiai, and his left hand found his outside grip. Was it “skycrane sumo”? No, but it was a solid win and he looked good doing it.
Shohozan defeats Takarafuji – Shohozan also joins the first win club for today. That murderous lunge at the tachiai was a wonder, and I think it surprised Takarafuji who took a moment to set up his defense. But that momentary disorientation may have been enough, as Takarafuji struggled to find a good grip, Shohozan broke free and got behind Takarafuji, pushing him out from behind.
Kagayaki defeats Tamawashi – Great clash of styles in this match. Tamawashi focused on Kagayaki’s head, working to disorient him and disrupt his balance. But Kagayaki’s stance was wide and stable, and he focused pressure center-mass and pushed ahead strongly. Really classic fundamentals based sumo from Kagayaki today, and he left Tamawashi with no route to rally.
Ryuden defeats Myogiryu – Sadly Myogiryu joins the self-isolation group down at 0-3. This match was all about Ryuden’s superior reach, and his ability to wrap Myogiryu up, and shut down any chance he had to attack or defend.
Abi defeats Onosho – Abi picks up his first win of the basho, and he did it with his trademark Abi-zumo. His tachiai was a half step ahead, and he landed both hands against Onosho’s upper body. Onosho worked to respond, but Abi did not release the pressure. As is his custom, Onosho lost his balance and hit the clay.
Yutakayama defeats Enho – Lovely slow motion tachiai, I love when Yutakayama does this (its not his first time in a battle with Enho). This probably shut down plans A,B and G for Enho, and the two circled each other. Enho kept trying to grab an part of Yutakayama’s body, and Yutakayama kept thwarting every grasp. The match wears on, and it just keeps getting strange. Holding hands, dancing around – I am not sure I quite understand this pixie-sumo. Were they trying to summon an enchanted toadstool? Eventually Yutakayama closes in and shoves him to the clay. Huge effort from both.
Hokutofuji defeats Tokushoryu – Nice change-up tachiai from Hokutofuji today, he took Tokushoryu straight to his chest and went to work. Hokutofuji immediately had Tokushoryu on the run, and Tokushoryu attempted his trade mark thrust down at the bales, but could not get the timing worked out and was over the bales too early. Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu is still searching for his first win, and joins the quarantine group.
Mitakeumi defeats Shodai – Surprisingly solid sumo from two habitual under-performers. Shodai’s tachiai seems to be improved, but Mitakeumi was really low, and his body position was excellent. Shodai was never able to lower his hips, and Mitakeumi controlled this match from the start. Shodai tried a pull, tried turning, nothing work as Mitakeumi keep him locked down, with his hips and shoulders square to Shodai’s center-mass. Mitakeumi improves to 3-0, and looked very good today.
Asanoyama defeats Daieisho – Asanoyama takes another step closer to his double digit goal while Daieisho still can’t find his first win, and joins the quarantine group at 0-3. Daieisho opened strong and drove Asanoyama back, but Asanoyama rallied and dropped back to his original oshi-zumo form and attacked with power. Glad to see that the future Ozeki still has that toolkit close at hand when its needed.
Takakeisho defeats Endo – Oh so happy to see Takakeisho unleash the wave-action attack. Endo clearly was driving for a mawashi hold, as it seems to be the key to shutting down Takakeisho’s offense (at least for now). After an initial skirmish, Takakeisho set up the wave attacks. When he gets those running, nobody can keep their feet. Made my day….
Kakuryu defeats Okinoumi – I felt a sense of relief to see Kakuryu back in the groove. He came out fast and hard at the tachiai, and that left hand went straight to Okinoumi’s mawashi. Immediately, Okinoumi knew he was trapped, and Kakuryu dialed up the power. Great Yokozuna style today, and he improves to 2-1.
Hakuho defeats Takayasu – I know that Hakuho as many well deserved defenders, but in all sincerity – what the hell was that? Takayasu is a shade of his former self, and The Boss really struggled with this match. Hakuho is sol versitle that he completely improvised this match from start to finish, but it still worked. Hakuho improves to 3-0, but that was a lot more frantic than what we are used to seeing from him.