Osaka Day 5 Highlights

Act 1 of the “Silent Basho” is in the books now. The empty arena is less jarring now, but I am still not sure I can overcome the lack of the fans cheering on the rikishi. For example, Enho won over Okinoumi today. Not really earth shattering like it could be if say Araiso oyakata suddenly appeared in the hanamichi and fought Hakuho, taking Tokushoryu’s place, because he called in a favor. No, but anyone who has seen Enho fight live knows that the crowd goes berserk even if he loses. Today – nothing but dead silence. I think of Haru as the first basho in my life where the crowd is kyujo. As always, Team Tachiai hope they can bounce back for May and return in good form.

As expected, Takayasu is kyujo – possibly for a while. As we are now accustomed Tagonoura oyakata gave everyone some incomprehensible mumbles about what happened to him. Leg something whatever healing naturally. I had expected Chiyotairyu to be kyujo as well, but there he was on day 5, and he won, too! But Tsurugisho went kyujo instead. Given the amount of tape he was wearing daily, the guy was not in good condition, and I hope he can recover soon.

Highlight Matches

Kotonowaka defeats Azumaryu – Well, I though this one would be more of a contest. But Azumaryu really had very little to offer to slow down or deflect Kotonowaka, who quickly took a double inside grip and dispatched Azumaryu with gusto. Kotonowaka ends act 1 with a respectable 4-1.

Daiamami defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru’s post tachiai thrusting attack was completely impotent, with Daiamami keeping the pressure on, backing the big Kokonoe man to the tawara. I credit Daiamami’s optimism, as he attempted to reach around that enormous belly and grab a handful of mawashi. Of course that did not work, but Daiamami’s forward motion was enough to force Chiyomaru out.

Meisei defeats Nishikigi – Another day, another loss for Nishikigi. Today he was able to generate some offense, but it was not even close to enough. He did manage to pin Meisei into an oddly contorted position for a time, but had no avenue to convert it to a fighting advantage. Nishikigi ends act 1 0-5. Ouch!

Kaisei defeats Shimanoumi – We can be glad that Kaisei seems to have woken up and is back to using his sumo. He was able to lock Shimanoumi and just drive forward. That much mass in motion is really tough to stop, and Shimanoumi was left with no way to move to the side.

Aoiyama defeats Tsurugisho – The fusen-sho win means Big Day Aoiyama finishes act 1 with 5-0. Nice!

Kotoshogiku defeats Ishiura – Ishiura had a couple of solid routes to win this one, but could not convert. Kotoshogiku was high at the tachiai, and higher the first step following. But Kotoshogiku’s big body overpowered Ishiura, who was more focused on maintaining defensive foot placement than any counter-offensive. With the former Ozeki dictating the terms of the match, it was only a matter of time before we saw the hug-n-chug come out to play. Ishiura picks up his first loss of Haru.

Sadanoumi defeats Ikioi – The heavily battle damaged veteran, Ikioi, ends act 1 with a winning record. Color me surprised. Not that Ikioi lacks the strength and skill to do it, but he’s naught but inflammation, scars and gristle in some places. Sadanoumi spent the match fighting for grip, and once he got his left hand outside grip, he found Ikioi throwing him in response. Both hit the clay together, but Ikioi touched down first losing the match.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochinoshin – We saw the sky-crane today, but it failed when he could not keep Terutsuyoshi off of the clay. That right knee really is a just a mess. When Tochinoshin dropped Terutsuyoshi short of the tawara, he landed ready to pivot into a throw. It failed, but Tochinoshin was struggling to defend, and Terutsuyoshi loaded a second throw, which succeeded. Tochinoshin ends act 1 with a miserable 1-4.

Chiyotairyu defeats Takanosho – Chiyotairyu bounces back from a day 4 ankle injury to deliver Takanosho’s first loss of Haru. Chiyotairyu’s sumo was strong, fast and focused today. I am sure Takanosho has a fine plan for this match. All of it probably evaporated the moment Chiyotairyu slapped his face.

Kiribayama defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan shows up each successive day with a bit more tape on that body. He’s got to be injured, in pain and wishing he could just go kyujo, I would imagine. He has yet to score a win, and finishes act 1 0-5.

Myogiryu defeats Shohozan – Also in the list of under performers is Shohozan, who came up short yet again today. It’s possible that cut above his right eye is bothering him more than we might assume, and it’s limiting his sumo. For Myogiryu, he finally gets his first win of the basho, and can start focusing on the long climb to 8.

Onosho defeats Tamawashi – Ok, what happened to Tamawashi? I am surprised that he is finishing act 1 with a 1-4 record at this rank. The 4-1 finish for Onosho is his best start for a basho since January of 2019, where he started Hatsu 5-0 at Maegashira 6. He seems to have mostly sorted out his balance issues for now, and I think he has plenty of headroom to hold his own on his week 2 matches against some of the higher ranked rikishi.

Takarafuji defeats Ryuden – Takarafuji got a great position out of the tachiai, and that left Ryuden to fight for hand placement, while Takarafuji consolidated his position, and let Ryuden wear himself down. This is textbook Takarafuji sumo. Any time you let a match with him go past 10 seconds, his power over you just grows.

Abi defeats Kagayaki – As is sometimes the case, Abi’s opponent (Kagayaki) gets completely disrupted at the tachiai when Abi connects his first double-arm thrust. Kagayaki lost balance, and fell forward. Abi’s excellent sumo skills saw him covert that stumble to a fluid uwatenage. Abi now has 3 straight wins after starting with 2 losses.

Enho defeats Okinoumi – Some solid Enho-style sumo today, and the silence in response was jarring. True to from, Enho grabs the nearest appendage and pulls with everything he can muster.

Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Daieisho picks up his second win, after starting Haru with 3 consecutive losses. As is the case with almost any match featuring Hokutofuji, it was a wild, frantic and chaotic battle that shifted form and leadership more than once. Daieisho sealed his win with a nodowa and a firm shove to Hokutofuji’s chest.

Endo defeats Shodai – Shodai reverted a bit to his “bad form”; high, stiff and vague. His opening gambit of a strong drive forward out of the tachiai nearly won the match, but he was a bit early with his finishing thrust, and left Endo plenty of room to escape. That escape quickly converted to and Endo attack that Shodai was ill-prepared to repulse.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – Well, this is the second day in a row where Takakeisho looks at only about half power. I am going to guess maybe he re-injured that pectoral during his day 3 “wave action” attack. That would also explain why we have not seen much of his trademark sumo in a long time. Mitakeumi, in contrast, is tack-sharp, and his sumo is completely dialed in. I boggle to say it, but damn. it’s conceivable this guy might be in the running for the cup.

Kakuryu defeats Yutakayama – I am not surprised that Kakuryu completely dominated Yutakayama today. I am happy to see the Yokozuna fighting well for the first act, finishing 4-1, and showing us some fine sumo. Yutakayama put a lot of effort into the bout, and recused himself well, but Kakuryu stayed lower, and put an impressive amount of force into his thrusting attacks.

Hakuho defeats Tokushoryu – There was no way that Tokushoryu was going to offer Hakuho too much of a challenge, and I think Tokushoryu did better than I expected, and gave the Yokozuna a good, solid effort. The Boss finishes act 1 undefeated, and is the man to catch for the yusho.

29 thoughts on “Osaka Day 5 Highlights

  1. Mitakeumi really looks great. As you said, dialed in. And it wasn’t hard today as Takakeisho didn’t offer any resistance. We sure do need another Ozeki or two.

    Daieisho…wow, very nice. I was rooting for Hokutofuji but Daieisho pulled off a nice win.

    Tokushoryu: I thought he fought well against Hakuho and even thought, just for a moment, that he might pull off an upset. But Hakuho is crafty as a fox.

  2. For just a second I thought Tokoshoryu was going to pull the upset of the century there. Fun match.

  3. Hakuho felt good enough to play cat and mouse with Tokushoryu for a second there. There was a moment where they go chest to chest, and Hakuho lets himself get pushed before finishing the match. I’ve noticed he does this with a lot of first time bouts. It’s as if to say “I’m going to give you the initiative, and I dare you to find something to do with it.”

  4. “I think of Haru as the first basho in my life where the crowd is kyujo.
    As always, Team Tachiai hope they can bounce back for May and return in good form.”

    Bruce, you made my day :)) !

  5. I suspect the same for Takakeisho… since that Endo bout he doesn’t show any power. Possibly the next one to go kyujo, but I hope it’s something he can heal until next basho.

    I love watching Terutsuyoshi and Daieisho fight. They are always “all-in” and show high energy sumo every day. Daieisho is fierce and can beat anyone on a good day, I hope he can improve even more and aim for higher ranks.

  6. An odd but effective tachiai from Nishikigi — he took only a little step forward with his right foot and deflected all of Meisei’s incoming energy off to the left side. I had to do a double-take because it looked like he just kind of stood up into Meisei’s charge and yet did not get run right over.

    When Terutsuyoshi was sky-craned he didn’t kick his legs or anything — it was as if he knew he would land inside the ring. (No, I’m not back on my yaocho bullshit — why would a functioning rikishi buy a win off of a one-legged one? This was clearly a shoot; it was just kind of peculiar.)

    This is going to be another basho like Haru last year where Hakuho sweeps the board while looking like shit, isn’t it.

    • Maybe Terutsuyoshi noticed that kicking ones legs and wriggling about never works and also looks silly, so he opted for the “sandbag” tactic.

      • Right? I was wondering why he didn’t just turn and take one step to set him out instead of strolling across the dohyo.

  7. There is a something about Mitakeumi this basho that I’ve never seen before. I might call it “grimness”. Even when he’s been winning tournaments in the past he’s always seemed like a thoroughly nice guy, never too far away from a goofy grin, and who can forget him blubbing in the interview room after his first yusho. Mr Nice Guy seems to have left the building and Mitakeumi is now all business, menace and bad intentions. Maybe seeing Asanoyama usurping his role as the next big thing has spurred him on. Whatever it is I heartily approve.

    • During the pre-basho health check they do grip measures. It turned out the press was on hand to watch Hakuho’s check and his right hand grip power has dropped significantly (from 80kgf to 50f). He explained it away by saying that the finger he broke was still swollen, so he was not applying full force.

      So, either there is a swollen pinkie and he is trying to avoid hurting it further, or his gripping power is just gone and he is trying not to waste time attempting it. I have no evidence in any direction, but one should note that a mawashi grip starts with the pinkie and the ring finger, and then you follow with the rest of the fingers.

  8. Barring any craziness (and I know, that hasn’t been a safe thing to do recently), the race for the cup is probably already down to the two Yokozuna, Asanoyama, and Mitakeumi.

    • And just as I posted that, I looked at the torikumi to see that Asanoyama and Mitakeumi face off tomorrow, in what could be an early bout of the tournament! They’ve met in each of the last 5 basho (and never before that), with the head-to-head narrowly favoring Mitakeumi 3-2, but Asanoyama prevailed in January.

    • You shouldn’t forget Aoiyama. He looks very genki this tournament and fights at M13. It will probably need him to start 12-0 or even 13-0 to be matched up further up there, so depending how the basho develops, he has a good chance to stay in contention. SOmehow I don’t think anyone will go 15-0.

  9. I really loved Terutsuyoshi’s bout today. Well, I love seeing my main man win, of course. But other than that, here he goes being picked up by Mr. Mobile Crane, he starts wriggling his legs, then remembers that this is not an effective strategy. Instead he starts thinking heavy thoughts and extending his feet down to change his center of gravity. Result: the crane lets go. Then the battle goes on and Terutsuyoshi has the big man in a position for a throw, but Tochinoshin is not letting go. Terutsuyoshi deftly bends down, and flicks the Georgean Dentist’s bad leg from under him with a perfect ballet move FTW. Of course, when he rises, his face is still contorted from that mega-wedgie he has received.

    Also, people, I want to draw your attention to the fact that one of the daily kensho envelopes on Terutsuyoshi’s bouts is sponsored by a salt company.

    Shodai forgot that to yori-kiri you’re supposed to have some sort of a sashi. He thought he could do without it. Endo proved him wrong.

    Mitakeumi’s weapon this basho seems to be a double-sided ottsuke. He keeps those armpits so well locked that you can’t open them without a certified locksmith, or preferably a stick of dynamite. The usual tachiai for an oshi wrestler is with hazu on both sides to lift the opponent (some prefer a morotezuki). The ottsuke is a great weapon against both attempted grip and against a good hazu. Basically, Mitakeumi is doing the exact opposite of Nishikigi, who lets people get way too far up his armpits. A great ottsuke was also Kisenosato’s weapon of choice.

    By now Takayasu’s medical certificate has surfaced. He has damage to all three hamstring muscles. The certificate says it will take four weeks of rest for a conservative treatment. It sounds to me like whoever wrote it had a non-conservative treatment in mind, but was probably waved off. My prediction? Takayasu slides all the way down to the bottom of Juryo and retires.

    Watch the shikiri-sen when Kakuryu does a tachiai. He always has one foot in before his opponents. That’s called “deashi”. You can’t get to Yokozuna without being faster than your opponents.

    Hakuho seems to have regained his confidence. Remember Kitanofuji wrote that this basho is going to be a real test to Hakuho’s confidence, after being thrown in such an undignified way by Endo last basho? He said if it was him, he would have wanted to retire right then and there. Hakuho indeed looked very tense after his first four bouts. Today, after his bout, he had his usual expression and that little dancing gait at which he always returns to his edge after a win.

    • Herouth, you are on fire this basho! Who else would have the data on Hakuho’s grip strength? Great stuff!

      I have three unrelated observations:

      Chiyomaru’s tachiai set-up betrayed him. He crouched, with both arms resting on his knees, while Daiamami had both hands down. When Chiyomaru began to drop those hands, Daiamami fired and blew the Round Mound out of the ring. May have been a matta, but I wouldn’t have called it.

      What’s wrong with Tamawashi? Well, his tachiai seems remarkably slow these days. Before he can mount an attack, he’s got a burly opponent in his grill, which robs him of his favorite offensive tactics.

      Lastly, when Takakeisho was dealing an effective wave action, he’d begin each match with a devastating, low tachiai that would rock his opponent back on his heels, creating space for Takakeisho to crank up the wave action machine. We haven’t seen that tachiai much for a while.

    • Seemed to me that of all the rikishi Hakuho was the most freaked out by the empty arena, looked positively disorientated the first few days. Good to see him getting back to enjoying himself.


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