It was matta day today at the Kokugikan, with Dr Takasu in attendance in a corner box. Maybe it was rikishi ring rust, or shimpan working to tighten up the flow of the matches. Nice early surprises, I would have to say: Takakeisho, Shodai, Takayasu and Tobizaru. All 4 of these guys look strong and focused in the first few days, and I would love to see them stay in the hunt into the middle weekend. It’s clear the lack of joint training has really degraded some of these athlete’s sumo, and there is some rumor that the degeiko ban may be at least partially lifted after Aki.
I am sure a number of our readers are watching Asanoyama’s first 2 days, and recalling the brilliant piece by Josh that was published a few days before the start of Aki, A Surplus of Almost. If you have not had a chance to read through it, please do.
Ichinojo defeats Kyokutaisei – After a weak start on day 1, Ichinojo focused on fundamentals and mechanics today, and it payed off. Although Kyokutaisei got inside, and an early grip, Ichinojo’s left hand outside at the back of Kyokutaisei’s mawashi was the control point of this match, which Ichinojo used to great effect.
Shimanoumi defeats Hoshoryu – Nod to Shimanoumi for turning this into a raw power match, which was greatly to his advantage. Hoshoryu struggled to react to Shimanoumi’s sumo. I am impressed by how low Shimanoumi was able to keep his hips today. There was also a monoii, with a good amount of mumbling.
Tobizaru defeats Shohozan – A pair of matta appetizers, and it was on! Once again Shohozan really seems to have lost his mojo, and can offer only moderate defensive pressure against Tobizaru’s attack. Shohozan tried a pull, and that set off a cascade that saw him on the receiving end of a hatakikomi.
Kotoshoho defeats Kaisei – Kaisei allowed Kotoshoho a right hand inside grip, and that was all that was needed for control of the match and a win. Kaisei looks rather rusty right now, starting 0-2.
Meisei defeats Kotoshogiku – I think that the Kotoshogiku no-tape revival is over. Meisei cleverly kept Kotoshogiku turning, and never able to square his hips and drive forward for more than a moment. The resulting torque on Kotoshogiku’s knees seem to have taken a toll, as he seemed a bit pained following his loss.
Chiyotairyu defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyotairyu has in fact lost a decent amount of weight, and it seems to have greatly helped his sumo. Chiyotairyu sacrificed hand placement at the tachiai for delivering a brutal body slam, and getting his arms inside. From there it was a quick move to stand Sadanoumi up, and immediately knock him down.
Onosho defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko seemed slow off the shikiri-sen, and gave Onosho an open route to his chest. For a moment, Onosho was too far forward over his toes, and Kotoeko could have released forward power and brought him down, but instead absorbed it all with his face. A quick pull from Onosho took Kotoeko to the clay.
Tokushoryu defeats Enho – Like a strong, highly trained hedge hog against a locomotive, the sumo was brave and potent but completely pointless, and Enho is seen once again reeling backward, landing in a heap.
Aoiyama defeats Wakatakakage – Big Dan Aoiyama gets his sumo back, and we see the power of the V-Twin attack against Wakatakakage who seems to be completely disrupted. Rather than slap him down right away, Aoiyama plays with him a bit, batting him about the dohyo before Wakatakakage succumbs to repeated blows to the face.
Takayasu defeats Ryuden – As a Takayasu fan, it’s really good to see him in this genki mode for the first time more than a year. Ryuden works hard to get that left hand past Takayasu’s ottsuke (clearly this guy fights former Kisenosato before breakfast), and spends so much focus and energy on that, he fails to thwart Takayasu’s right hand frontal grip. That front grip is the deciding element in the match, as Takayasu lifts and advances for the win. Solid sumo from both men today.
Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – I love how focused Takarafuji is in this match. Kagayaki gets the better of the tachiai, and gets inside and forward. For a tall guy like Kagayaki, it’s only 2 ½ strides to the edge of the ring, and Takarafuji times his response with exquisite precision. As Kagayaki presses ahead to finish, Takarafuji steps to the side, reverses and with one shove sends Kagayaki out.
Kiribayama defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama, sadly, continues the slide started in July, and really looks to only be running at about 80% power. Kiribayama deploys a hit and shift which Yutakayama buys for cash up front, and finds himself spinning off balance and out.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin’s sumo is powerful, but seldom rapid. This leaves him open to a busy little fellow like Terutsuyoshi who serves up offensive move at nearly twice the rate of the former Ozeki. After turning Tochinoshin twice, Terutsuyoshi presses hard against Tochinoshin’s bandaged knee. Yeah, I would release pressure too at that point.
Myogiryu defeats Endo – After giving Asanoyama a trip to the clay on day one, fans might assume that Endo was going to be a force this basho. But sadly true to his form, he wiffs this bout with Myogiryu. A puzzling and patently ineffective quasi-pull, moments after the tachiai, releases attack pressure. That’s a mistake Myogiryu was never going to let pass.
Shodai defeats Tamawashi – To my eye this should have been a matta, as Shodai launched a half step late, and was stood up smartly by Tamawashi’s tachiai. But Shodai managed to get his arms inside, and pressed forward. To my surprise, Tamawashi was not able to turn him. Shodai ran him to the bales and shoved him out. Nice 2-0 start for Shodai. I wonder where this is going…
Daieisho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji continue to look quite rusty, and drops his match to Daieisho. After letting Daieisho run the first moments of the match, Hokutofuji backs him up to the tawara, and then inexplicably backs up, inviting Daieisho to slap him down, which he was happy to supply. Well, ok then…
Mitakeumi defeats Terunofuji – Mitakeumi did a great job of getting to the side of Terunofuji today, and pushing for all he was worth. Terunofuji’s knees would have been hard pressed to overcome that lateral force if they were healthy, but in their gristly state they had no resistance to offer.
Takanosho defeats Asanoyama – I know fans were hoping that Asanoyama was going to dominate this basho, and maybe he still can, somehow. But he’s looking vague and distracted. His yotsu style is executed with great strength and poise, but it’s quite predictable, and it seems his first two opponents of this Aki basho have read him precisely. The great Yokozuna hope drops to 0-2 to start September.
Takakeisho defeats Okinoumi – Takakeisho once again uses his short stature, short legs, and spheroid shape to bring a double hand thrust of tadpole doom to the dohyo. Today he lets Okinoumi appear to get the better of the tachiai, but Takakeisho has both hands on Okinoumi’s chest. It’s almost comical to see Okinoumi struggle to apply any force as his hands grasp for an attack route, as Takakeisho powers him out. Solid Takakeisho sumo again today.