The November basho is off to a solid start, with some really solid performances out of winners and loser alike today. I was impressed not only with Shodai’s ballet again, but Chiyonokuni, Hoshoryu and Shimanoumi impressed me.
Shimanoumi defeats Chiyonoo – A solid match to start off the top division. Chiyonoo’s tachiai looked great, with Shimanoumi forced to step back, and crouch to get position. Shimanoumi had his right hand inside and against Chiyonoo’s chest, and the match battled back and forth as neither man could gain clear advantage. Shimanoumi managed to open enough of a gap to land a combination of thrusts to Chiyonoo’s chest, and propelled the Kokenoe man out.
Chiyoshoma defeats Akua – Chiyoshoma employed solid, straight ahead sumo today. He’s actually a solid fighter when he applies his skill! Akua had the stronger attack, and pressed forward. But he left his left side open, and Chiyoshoma found a grip, using that to swing Akua around and down to the clay. Akua looked a bit hurt following the match, hopefully he is ok.
Kotonowaka defeats Chiyotairyu – To my eye, Kotonowaka timed his opening combo anticipating Chiyotairyu’s perferred rapid tachiai. But Chiyotairyu took a slower route, and was rewarded with an open route to push against Kotonowaka’s chest. Kotonowaka took several long seconds to organize any counter attack, finally settling on Chiyotairyu’s neck. But this was effective in getting Chiyotairyu off balance, and down.
Chiyonokuni defeats Ichinojo – These two delivered the match we were hoping for, and it was glorious to watch. Quite a lot of tape on Chiyonokuni’s right shoulder, maybe to dissuade Ichinojo from taking a nibble if he might become hungry during the match? Chiyonokuni opening gambit was completely ineffective against Ichinojo, but Chiyonokuni just kept throwing combos at the Boulder. Ichinojo was largely unimpressed, and gave Chiyonokuni a hearty shove… in his face. Chiyonokuni kept grabbing and tugging, at one point going for some kind of under shoulder move, but there was just too much Ichinojo to move. I loved Chiyonokuni’s reversal at the bales to secure the win. Great to have this guy back in the top division. Let’s hope he can stay healthy enough to keep competing.
Hoshoryu defeats Kaisei – In the preview, I stated that Hoshoryu needed to elevate his sumo if he wanted to continue to climb the ranks. Granted Kaisei tends to show up with a good amount of ring rust, but Hoshoryu’s sumo was powerful and efficient today. He overcame Kaisei’s deep two hand grip, and frankly looked excellent.
Yutakayama defeats Enho – Enho continues to struggle, to the dismay of his fans around the world. All of his moves were employed today against Yutakayama, but ultimately Yutakayama was able to shut down every attempt Enho made to take control of the match.
Meisei defeats Sadanoumi – I really like Meisei’s defensive footwork today. He took control of the center of the ring, and forced Sadanoumi to move around him, responding to Meisei’s sumo. At one point Sadanoumi lunges forward, and Meisei side steps. Excellent move, and it set up the winning finish.
Kotoeko defeats Ryuden – A fantastic battle of strength and balance between these two. Ryuden really had command following the tachiai, with a solid mawashi grip. Kotoeko could not find any route to offense, but kept his balance centered and his feet positioned well. Ryuden moved to finish with what looked like a kotenage, but Kotoeko pivoted and moved into the throw, pulling Ryuden forward and down, with Ryuden hitting the clay first. Great rescue move by Kotoeko!
Tokushoryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s attempt at manuver based sumo against his lumbering, bulky opponent was a solid match plan. It ran afoul of physics when Tokushoryu bracketed him and sent him flying with a single shove that could have moved a lorry.
Endo defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama had it in his head that he was going to pull or thrust Endo down today. He never fired up his thrusting attack, and resigned himself to fighting in reverse. Endo’s balance on a bad day is often good enough to keep him upright, and sumo’s “El Guapo” made fast work of Big Dan.
Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – I am impressed by how much sumo Tochinoshin can get out of his one working knee. He has changed his technique slowly over time, but he increasingly favors his left leg. Tamawashi over powered every defense Tochinoshin could set up, and took the win.
Takarafuji defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho got turned to the left immediately out of the tachiai, a combination of poor foot placement and a skillful hit-and-shift from Takarafuji. With his back turned to Takarafuji, Kotoshoho was on the fast track over the bales.
Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – These two started attacking each others neck and face, but Hokutofuji shifted his force to Myogiryu’s chest, and found a way to move forward. I am hoping that Hokutofuji is in good condition this basho. It’s been a while since we have seen him really dominate.
Okinoumi defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru is finding a new class of opponent now, and that’s a good thing. Okinoumi seems to have put most of his health and injury problems aside this year, and now his skill, patience, and deep sumo technique catalog can really shine.
Terunofuji defeats Kagayaki – First, Kagayaki with a dark belt? I had to look twice. Second, that was classic Ozeki Terunofuji sumo. You can go watch his matches in 2015 and 2016, and see that exact same combo use to win matches.
Daieisho defeats Takanosho – Takanosho gets surprised when Daieisho starts the match fast, low and strong. He took the inside position, and thrust Takanosho up, and the shin-Sekiwake never could get his sumo together. Daieisho kept him reacting until he was off balance enough to slap down to the clay. Maybe some ring rust?
Mitakeumi defeats Onosho – First match: really liked Onosho’s tachiai, but Mitakeumi’s ottsuke kept Onosho from really getting any kind of grip. Mitakeumi advanced and Onosho tried to flip him down to the dohyo, but stepped out as Mitakeumi fell. The mono-ii decided they would fight again, and this time it was all Mitakeumi.
Shodai defeats Wakatakakage – Shodai got overwhelmed by Wakatakakage, and saved his win with an incredible rescue move at the bales. If Wakatakakage had a point of failure, it is that he rushed the finish, and allowed Shodai to escape as Wakatakakage was about to win. That was a great defensive move by Shodai, but hopefully he does not have to resort to that kind of thing too frequently.
Asanoyama defeats Kiribayama – Asanoyama made it clear that November was a new page on the calendar, and he was going to open strong. Kiribayama is no easy mark, and got his left hand inside at the tachiai, but as his hand found silk, he had no stance to hold his position, and Asanoyama ran him out.
Takakeisho defeats Takayasu – Did you guys see that? A really interesting and useful variation on Takakeisho’s sumo today. Rather than trying to keep a broad gap between him and his opponent, Takakeisho made much better use of his lower body today. He kept his hips low, and his hands on Takayasu’s chest. Takayasu did a fine job of blocking Takakeisho in the opening moments of the bout, but could not deflect the Grand Tadpole for long.