The November carnage continues, as Shodai is now out as well after hurting his left leg and foot on day 3. That is 2 injured, kadoban Ozeki who will be fighting in January to keep their rank, and 2 injured Yokozuna with “win or retire” ultimatums fighting it out. Week 2 of Hatsu is going to see doom stalking each of the last 4 matches of every day, as I suspect that both Asanoyama and Shodai won’t be 100% by New Year’s day. In addition, I don’t think Hakuho is going to settle for 8-and-out. His ego will drive him to run up the score. I pity the rikishi who end up in the top Maegashira slots for the next basho. Sumo can be a brutal sport, and January promises to be a real meat grinder.
Shimanoumi defeats Kotonowaka – Wow, Shimanoumi starts 5-0 from the bottom of the banzuke. There seems to be some kind of magic about that slot this year, and Shimanoumi is working it for all its worth. Kotonowaka opened strong and had Shimanoumi on the run, but Shimanoumi rallied for the win. Fantastic sumo.
Ichinojo defeats Akua – Ichinojo finally gets his first win for November, and does it in fine Ichinojo style – staying nearly stationary and being huge. Then, at the right moment, toppling over on top of your opponent like a building collapse.
Chiyoshoma defeats Hoshoryu – Chiyoshoma wins again as Hoshoryu’s balance fails him as he goes on the attack following the tachiai. There is a fine line between moving forward with power and getting too far past your toes, and Hoshoryu was on the wrong side of that line. Chiyoshoma improves to 3-2.
Chiyotairyu defeats Kaisei – Chiyotairyu got a right hand nodowa at the tachiai, and Kaisei’s sumo was completely disrupted. Chiyotairyu marched Kaisei around and then battle-hugged him out. Chiyotairyu up to 3-2, and looking steady this basho.
Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – A simple “stand him up and slap him down” opening gambit from Chiyonokuni advances him to 5-0. Sadanoumi having a terrible 1-4 start to November.
Meisei defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama is clearly fired up and intent on brining a lot of power to the match. Meisei reads this well, meets Yutakayama’s tachiai, then as Yutakayama charges again, steps aside and allow him to blow by and crash over the edge of the dohyo. Meisei up to 3-2, and Yutakayama at a dismal 1-4.
Ryuden defeats Enho – The bounce is not quite as extreme today, but it’s still happening. But Ryuden seasoned it with his multi-matta pre match disruption routine. Enho ran the same battle plan today as the prior 4 days, and its still worthless. Down he goes to 0-5 and a thousand hearts break across Japan. Ryuden butt-bounces to 4-1.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – Terutsuyoshi drove inside at the tachiai, and had his right hand squarely against Kotoeko’s chest. Kotoeko rallied and drove forward into Terutsuyoshi’s slap down. First loss for Kotoeko, dropping him to 4-1. Terutsuyoshi picks up win #2.
Tokushoryu defeats Tochinoshin – Tokushoryu took the fight directly to Tochinoshin, applying maximum pressure to the former Ozeki’s chest. Typically a rikishi would push back to blunt the attack, but Tokushoryu is too heavy and Tochinoshin’s knee to damaged for him to do much. A moment later Tochinoshin stepped over the bales, and he picked up his 3rd loss.
Tamawashi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama continues to be blanked, unable to generate much offense at all. Tamawashi powers into his chest with both hands and sends him out. I am going to guess that Big Dan is hurt, and will struggle for the next 10 days.
Takarafuji defeats Endo – As expected this was a highly technical see-saw match. Neither man held advantage for more than a moment, and Takarafuji’s win came as he was able to turn Endo around and push from behind. Both leave the day with a well deserved 4-1 record at the end of act 1.
Kotoshoho defeats Tobizaru – I am starting to worry about Tobizaru, yes a weak 1-4 start indicates some mechanical injury, but I am also concerned that he may lose the “fire” that drove him to 11-4 in September. Kotoshoho attempted to pull him down, which was not entirely successful, but left Tobizaru off balance and an easy mark for a clean up attack. Kotoshoho advances to 2-3.
Kagayaki defeats Myogiryu – With Kagayaki’s ring rust removed, he’s back in touch with his sumo, and we can see his fundamentals at work again today. Myogiryu blasted ahead at the tachiai, but could not finish the attack. Kagayaki’s right arm ottsuke shut down Myogiryu’s attack, and Kagayaki’s excellent offensive footwork powered the win.
Okinoumi defeats Takayasu – Much as I have been a follower of Takayasu, he may not yet be ready to stay in the joi-jin. It’s sad that his injuries have reduced his once Ozeki level sumo this much, but it’s obvious now. I noted that Okinoumi kept braking Takayasu’s grip, and Takayasu spent precious time and dohyo territory working to keep that left hand on Okinoumi’s mawashi. They went to a leaning contest, which favors Takayasu, but Okinoumi was up to the stamina challenge, and kept working his left hand inside. That left hand finally found it’s target, and a low speed roll sent Takayasu to the clay. He drops to 1-4.
Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji had zero chance to use his superior maneuverability today, and it was Terunofuji’s brand of sumo from the tachiai. Hokutofuji stayed strong, and his foot placement shut down Terunofuji’s first attempt at an uwatenage. Undaunted, Terunofuji tries again, but rather than using Hokutofuji’s left leg as a pivot, he just adds a lift and bodily throws Hokutofuji to the clay. Terunofuji remains undefeated at 5-0, and kaiju mode is still active.
Takanosho defeats Kiribayama – Takanosho got a slightly early jump at the tachiai, and Kiribayama struggled to set up any offense. Kiribayama tried plans B and C, and each time was a bit more off balance. Takanosho waited for his chance and drove Kiribayama out with a strong shove to his chest for his 3rd win.
Mitakeumi defeats Wakatakakage – Ah good, that was closer to what fans expect from Mitakeumi. He was able to use his huge body to overwhelm the smaller Wakatakakage, and pin him against the tawara before lifting him out. Mitakeumi advances to 3-2.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Textbook Takakeisho, he has his hands inside at the tachiai, shrugs off Daieisho’s opening combo and drives with everything he can deliver. It’s a short trip to the bales and Daieisho is expelled with a hearty shove. Takakeisho, the highest ranking survivor at the end of act one, remains undefeated at 5-0.