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.
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.