It seems it was “Mad Matta Thursday” in the Kokougikan, as the gyoji shouted “Matta!” more times than I cared to count. It made for some odd matches, as I think a matta disrupts a rikishi’s battle plan, and leaves them hesitant at the tachiai. This day closed out Act 1, where we remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not. Given the lack of degeiko, there was plenty of rust on some of the rikishi from smaller stables, and it’s been a rough start to the normally energetic fall basho. As many had suspected, Kyokutaisei went kyujo today with an injury to his achilles tendon. This is a real shame, as he has been battling since 2018 to make it back to the top division, and finally achieved that goal this tournament.
Hoshoryu defeats Nishikigi – This was a surprisingly worthy fight, and both men played to type quite well. Nishikigi worked to immobilize Hoshoryu’s arms and use his lower body’s strength to force him out. It nearly worked, and the save came with Hoshoryu’s heels against the tawara and pushing for all he was worth. With Nishikigi’s attack disrupted, Hoshoryu hooks his left foot around Nishikigi for a beautiful trip. More like that please, Hoshoryu.
Ichinojo defeats Kaisei – A battle of the mega-rikishi, they settled into mutual left hand outside grips following the tachiai. That quickly converted into a battle of strength, which Ichinojo won for his 4th win.
Kotoshoho defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi had the advantage for the first portion of the match. His feet are better placed, his hands are working efficiently, and inside. But Kotoshoho successfully transitioned from oshi to yotzu, shutting down Shimanoumi’s offense. I am getting the impression that Kotoshoho is going to be someone to watch.
Chiyotairyu defeats Shohozan – Honestly, Shohozan has nothing right now. But Chiyotairyu’s technique today was excellent. Strong tachiai, hands inside and combo thrusts to the center of Shohozan’s chest.
Kotoeko defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru loses his first, and these two threw the kitchen sink at each other. Neither man could gain clear advantage at any point of this match, and the result was attack and counter attack time after time. What is really impressive is that both of them just get faster and faster in the first few moments of the match.
Sadanoumi defeats Tokushoryu – Sadanoumi did a fantastic job of locking down Tokushoryu’s preferred attack routes, and controlling the match. Its clear that Tokushoryu is struggling right now, and I wonder if it’s just a case that everyone has an answer to his somewhat limited catalog of offensive gambits.
Onosho defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan Aoiyama connected with both hands during the tachiai, going for his preferred “stand him up and slap him down” opening gambit. Onosho was ready and the moment the pull came, he charged ahead. If you look at foot placement at the moment of the pull, I am impressed by how wide Onosho’s stance is compared to Aoiyama’s. Onosho finishes him with his often seen upward thrust to the chest. Five wins? Wow, he’s alone at the top of the leader board.
Enho defeats Ryuden – Sadly, I was far too noisy during the match for the early morning hours in my house. A leap to the side, and its finally time for some Enho sumo! Grab the nearest body part and tug like mad. Ryuden had to know it was possible, even if its been a while since he has used it. In response Ryuden spreads his stance (good move) but hell, it won’t help, Enho’s in the groove now. Enho pushes, grabs, lfts Ryuden’s right knee, he’s like a man with a dozen hands, always in motion and attacking in multiple ways at the same time. But watch carefully, just as Enho is swinging Ryuden around, Ryuden stands up oddly. Most men recognize that posture. Where was Enho’s right hand? Oh dear… I think Goeido remembers that feeling.
Wakatakakage defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki came out strong, and really took control at the tachiai, but a lot of credit to Wakatakakage for generating enough defense to not let Kagayaki overwhelm him. His relief came when he was able to go chest to chest with a brief right hand inside grip. Kagayaki moved to break contact, and that move gave Wakatakakage the opening to win the match.
Takarafuji defeats Kiribayama – Great contrasts in this match. Takarafuji working calmly to gradually contain Kiribayama, and Kiribayama throwing combo thrusts at a frantic pace. But Takarafuji get’s his hold, and waits for Kiribayama to shift his stance. A lift and a strong advance, and the win goes to Takarafuji.
Tochinoshin defeats Takayasu – Again, it was too loud for such an early hour at my house. What fine match from Tochinoshin, and this is from a die-hard Takayasu supporter. Takayasu had him in a very tough position, but Tochinoshin expertly set up the throw and made it work, gimpy leg and all.
Yutakayama defeats Takanosho – A bit of a surprise result, but most welcome. Yutakayama’s tachiai was high and largely ineffective, and Takanosho had advantage, but to my surprise did not convert that to control of the match. Instead Yutakayama pressed the attack again, and got a right hand nodowa. Takanosho moved forward, and was able to take Yutakayama to the tawara, but he was too far forward, and a deft move to the side by Yutakayama sent him to the clay.
Endo defeats Okinoumi – Holy smokes! This is the kind of match you get when two high skill sumo experts with a deep catalog of move and counter move show up and really put their soul into a fight. The only disappointment is this match happened with a limited capacity crowd, admonished not to yell and cheer. What a match!
Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai had little if any effect on Shodai, and he immediately turned to his left. Shodai’s counter-attack was masterfully timed, and force was applied mid-step when Hokutofuji did not have both feet connected to clay. Shodai drove forward, grasping Hokutofuji’s torso and moving forward. Another solid win for Shodai, and this guy is really starting to look like he’s finally serious about his sumo.
Terunofuji defeats Daieisho – Again today, Terunofuji went for a left hand mawashi grip at the tachiai, but only came up with a handful of sagari today. The force of the collision was such that Daieisho was at the bales, and quickly moved to circle away. The gambit worked, and Daieisho switched to offense. But Terunofuji is too big, and too strong to move with a simple nodowa if his knees are working well. Win number 3 for Terunofuji, he’s looking strong, and I hope his knees hold out.
Mitakeumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – Excellent tachiai from Terutsuyoshi, but his feet were staggered rather than aligned, where Mitakeumi clearly just wanted to accept Terutsuyoshi’s charge. His feet are wide (excellent defensive position), and his hands are low, with the right hand inside. Pull with the right hand, push with the left on Terutsuyoshi’s elbow and that’s a textbook hikkake. Nice…
Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – It’s no surprise that Myogiryu can’t find a way to beat Takakeisho. At the tachiai, look at their hips. Takakeisho’s stance is wide, his hips are square – that man is not going anywhere. Myogiryu is high and for some reason attacking Takakeisho’s face. The route to Myogiryu’s chest is wide open, and if you are Takakeisho, you just use your primary weapon on the opponent’s most useful target zone, and you win.
Asanoyama defeats Tamawashi – I am beginning to hope that Asanoyama is in the process of settling down and getting into his sumo. The key to the match, Tamawashi’s attempt at a nodowa or a big thrust under Asanoyama’s chin missed completely. In that critical moment at the tachiai, the gambit left Tamawashi’s hips high. Asanoyama took his hands to Tamawashi’s armpits, and took control of the match.