Many times day 1 of a basho is really rough, with ample amounts of ring rust, and some half-assed or even quarter-assed sumo as rikishi struggle to get up to fighting form. But fear ye not dear readers, I found today’s sumo to be quite good for day 1. It’s clear that Terunofuji is continuing on from November with ample energy, lightning reflexes and surprising skill. Tochinoshin is surprising me again, and I love it. Finally there is some kind of ultra-mega Shodai form now – I am glad he finally figured out his sumo, because its a lot of fun to watch.
Sadanoumi defeats Daiamami – Solid, well executed sumo from Sadanoumi. He got morozashi at the tachiai, and Daiamami’s response was to twist and pull against Sadanoumi’s neck. Sadanoumi kept his hips square, and Daiamami only succeeded in turning himself in Sadanoumi’s battle-hug.
Akiseyama defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka put all of his effort into getting a working grip or hand placement, and Akiseyama’s giant belly was just too much of an obstacle. After multiple combos, Kotonowaka switched to defense, but at the same moment Akiseyama’s right hand landed on the front of Kotonowaka’s belt. Although Akiseyama could not maintain the hold, it was enough to take control, and Akiseyama used his bulk to force Kotonowaka across the bales.
Yutakayama defeats Hoshoryu – Yutakayama is at least starting genki. His sumo today is more like what he is capable of, and if he can keep his body in working order this January, he is going to do a lot of winning this far down the banzuke. A nod to Hoshoryu, as he gave him a good fight, but Yutakayama got his hands inside, his feet planted and drove forward with a lot of power. Hoshoryu finally got his hands around Yutakayam’s body, but that just set up the throw that cost him the match. Solid sumo.
Midorifuji defeats Akua – Midorifuji went for a henka in his first ever top-division ranked match. But his timing was off and it was declared a matta. The second attempt was straight ahead sumo, but was won (by Midorifuji) with a well timed side step in the face of Akua’s charge. Midorifuji wins his first match ranked in Makuuchi.
Ichinojo defeats Terutsuyoshi – Well, the GOOD Ichinojo mounted the dohyo today. When he’s in this form there is little for an opponent to do save try not to get hurt. It was a bit clumsy at first, but Ichinojo bodily grabbed Terutsuyoshi and dropped him like a bad pony.
Kotoeko defeats Aoiyama – Looked like a matta to me, and I think Aoiyama expected the matta call, but Kotoeko knows you fight until they stop you, and took his first win on the opening day of Hatsu. Hopefully Aoiyama’s token defense is not an indication he is injured.
Shimanoumi defeats Myogiryu – Shimanoumi picks up his first ever win against Myogiryu in 4 attempts. Myogiryu opened strong, but Shimanoumi’s defense was up to the task today.
Tokushoryu defeats Kiribayama – Tokushoryu has that combo tattooed into his brain stem – a hard push at the tachiai and a half step pause, then a pull. Kiribayama hits the clay and starts Hatsu with a loss.
Kagayaki defeats Tobizaru – Well, Goth Kagayaki it is! This was my choice of “Ring rust of day 1”, as Tobizaru got a right hand mawashi grip, but could not keep hold with Kagayaki’s pivot at the bales. The two broke contact and for a moment seemed to not be sure what to do next. When they re-engaged, Tobizaru put most of his efforts into pulling, which was pointless against Kagayaki’s excellent foot work. A hearty shove to center mass and the flying monkey goes flying, crashing into the waiting Endo.
Meisei defeats Ryuden – There was just a little bit of the “funky butt” in Ryuden today, but it was declared a matta on the first tachiai, and there was no sign of it in the second. The pivotal move was Meisei’s arm pull that sent Ryuden past, and set up the final push out. Messy, but effective.
Okinoumi defeats Endo – After receiving a face full of flying monkey butt, Endo was not quite as focused as I had expected him to be, and who can blame him? Both went left hand inside at the tachiai, and fought shoulder to shoulder. Endo switched to a right hand deep grip, but it was ineffective, with Okinoumi controlling the match, and sending Endo out.
Tochinoshin defeats Tamawashi – A couple of things really showed in this match. First that Tamawashi’s maneuverability continues to fade, now into his 35th year. Second is the really impressive effort that Tochinoshin has clearly put into making the best he can of his physical limits. There was technique that was not from the usual Tochinoshin catalog of sumo on display today, and he was able to use it to good effect. A solid win for the big Georgian.
Onosho defeats Takayasu – I don’t get to write this much, but Takayasu was overwhelmed at the tachiai today. That left shoulder blast is easy to anticipate, and Onosho’s habit of being too far forward at the tachiai was a benefit as he crashed into that waiting shoulder, and brought both arms up to attack in one fluid move. Followed by a Takayasu slippiotoshi, it was a day 1 win for Onosho.
Takanosho defeats Takarafuji – Ok, maybe Andy is on to something here. The human onigiri really brought some strength to todays match against a genki looking Takarafuji. His hand placement was very good, and his plan b / c switch was successful. I think this guy may have the tools to really be a star.
Terunofuji defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho thought, “Ha! I have Terunofuji’s right arm in my vice-like grip. Let me pull this, bring him off balance and win a stunning victory!”. To which Terunofuji replied, “You want to grab that arm and move backward? Let me help you with that”. What this really underscores to me is that Terunofuji was able to read the threat and turn it to his advantage in the blink of an eye. The instincts that took him to the Ozeki rank are still there, as sharp as ever, but his technique is now operating at a higher level. This guy is going to wreck this basho if he can stay healthy.
Daieisho defeats Asanoyama – Freaking Asanoyama, get it together man! You invited Daieisho to give you a lesson on “his brand of sumo”.
Shodai defeats Hokutofuji – Upon witnessing this match, my reaction was “Daym!” Hokutofuji puts a lot of power into his tachiai, and every watt of that dissipated into some kind of null space in the blink of an eye. Made no impact on Shodai, who absorbed it and just motored ahead. Hokutofuji never had a moment to set up any defense, and he was dispatched in just a few seconds.
Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – Well, that rope run is looking a bit iffy today. Takakeisho had him stalemated, but after Mitakeumi tried a pull down (and failed), Takakeisho responded in kind, and was sent over the bales. Very frustrating as Takakeisho had the advantage right up until the pull.