In a basho where the Yokozuna are out, and one of the Ozeki has a chance to claim the rope, you would expect the surviving top rankers to completely dominate. But instead you get a day like today where all 3 of them lose, and look terrible doing it. We started talking about how sumo’s top rankers were struggling in 2017. But that was a whole 2 generations of Ozeki ago. I am starting to think that the prior era was a plateau of atypical stability in the top ranks. I am truly worried that we won’t get have 3 Ozeki on senshuraku, and that would be a shame. There was some excellent sumo today, but the highlights (for me) were Terutsuyoshi’s win, and Tamwashi’s big throw.
I know that Moti / Kintamayama has been a strong supporter of Daieisho for some time, and it looks like in this basho he may be the man to beat. That’s three Ozeki scalps in three days, and all of them looked completely out-classed against the Maegashira 1.
Akiseyama defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi brought his speed today, but he hit a Akiseyama’s wall of flesh on the first step. Akiseyama put it in forward gear and just drove ahead. In spite of his flabby front, the man has a bushel of bulging muscles and they went to work today. Akiseyama is a bit of a puzzle, he is (at times) a completely ripped fat man. Sadanoumi did not have a chance.
Kotonowaka defeats Churanoumi – Kotonowaka had the better tachiai, but Churanoumi had the inside position for the opening exchange of the match. Kotonowaka tried thrusting, he tried grabbing a deep left hand mawashi grip, and he could not find an adequate offensive position. It was telling that while Kotonowaka was trying to get something going, Churanoumi was thrusting away, but not having much effect. The match ended with Kotonowaka heaving Churanoumi to the clay to improve to 2-1.
Midorifuji defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu, poor lad, let Midorifuji have a mawashi grip at the tachiai. Hoshoryu realized moments later he was too high, and Midorifuji was in control of the match. Midorifuji improves to 3-0 while Hoshoryu still has yet to find his first win.
Yutakayama defeats Akua – Akua tries the oblique tachiai again today, (with a spicy kick to the ankle too!) and nearly gets it to work. But Yutakayama keeps his eyes on his opponent and shifts to compensate. Akua never really recovered the initiative, and Yutakayama plays patty-cake with Akua’s face for a while and tosses him down to improve to 2-1.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Kotoeko – Excellent form from Terutsuyoshi today, completely textbook of how to win in a few heartbeats with an oshidashi. I watched it 3 times because it was just so pretty. Sadly Terutsuyoshi’s bandaged left forearm looks like it was giving him pain immediately following the win.
Aoiyama defeats Ichinojo – The battle of the blue belted giants started chest to chest with a lardy crash, and evolved into Aoiyama firing up the V-Twin and pushing Ichinojo out. Both end the day 2-1, and I am happy to see Aoiyama bounce back from that odd day 1 loss.
Kiribayama defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi takes his first loss when he gets a bit impatient, after Kiribayama stalemates him and blunts every offensive move. A big Shimanoumi forward rush was met by Kiribayama moving to the side and slapping Shimanoumi down for his second win. Both end the day 2-1.
Myogiryu defeats Tokushoryu – Myogiryu delivered a stand up tachiai, maybe he worried about some Tokushoryu mischief at the start. But he caught Tokushoryu’s charge and rolled him left like a baker turning out a bowl full of dough. Myogiryu gets his first win and both finish the day 1-2.
Meisei defeats Tobizaru – What a furious, thrashing mess of a match! This seems to be the norm for Tobizaru, and it’s amazing this guy does not get hurt with some of what gets used in his bouts. He was dealing big fat scoops of punishment to Meisei, but a big pull attempt released forward pressure, and Meisei ran him out like he was late for lunch. Thats a 3-0 start for Meisei.
Kagayaki defeats Okinoumi – A black mawashi battle in the middle of the top division, and Okinoumi had a great tachiai, and had both hands in an armpit at the start. Kagayaki has long legs, and struggles to stay low on most days, and with a hazuoshi in place, he was in trouble. But Kagayaki pressed forward into the attack, and broke Okinoumi’s attack. From here Kagayaki rallied and bodily pressed Okinoumi out. Both end with 2-1 for the day. I think the new “Dark Mode” Kagayaki, has a +10 advantage on any opponent in a black mawashi.
Endo defeats Ryuden – Wow, Ryuden has a whole lot of nothing so far this January. Granted he has never beaten Endo in honbasho. His two twerking matta today was simply a bit much, even for Ryuden. Again, today Endo was super low at the tachiai, and Ryuden joined the group of rikishi that just could not do anything once that low crouch hit him amidships. Endo improves to 2-1.
Tamawashi defeats Kotoshoho – Heave…. HO! Its been a while since we have been treated to this much power and energy in a Tamawashi match. I give a lot of credit to Kotoshoho for giving it his all, but Tamawashi was dead set on getting his first win of Hatsu. That throw at the end (uwatehineri) was one for the highlight reels.
Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – With a sigh of relief, I can report that Takayasu got his first win today. It looked really shaky at the start of the match, as once again Takayasu’s feet were all over the place, and his lateral balance was terrible. Once he planted his feet on the clay and attacked, it was all power. Dear Takayasu, please stop trying to employ high mobility sumo, it’s just not working for you.
Onosho defeats Takanosho – Andy’s prediction explodes on a cloud of gyoza shrapnel as Junior Tadpole Onosho cranks up his start to 3-0. Onosho’s balance was wild and out of control from the first step, but it was enough to completely disrupt whatever Takanosho had ready to go. Two steps and a hikiotoshi, and Takanosho hits the clay.
Terunofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin got his left hand mawashi grip at the tachiai, but could not set his feet up to attack. Terunofuji rushed forward and just kept moving. It was a quick trip to the tawara and Terunofuji’s second win. Hopefully he got that broken tooth fixed. Terunofuji improves to 2-1.
Daieisho defeats Shodai – Daieisho got both hands inside and against Shodai’s chest at the tachiai, and constantly pressed forward to attack. Shodai tried one of his big arm sweeps to clear Daieisho out, but it missed and set up the winning combo. 3-0 start for Daieisho, and he may be the man to beat.
Hokutofuji defeats Takakeisho – From rope run to a goose egg on day 3. That’s the brutal truth of Takakeisho’s January. No chance at a promotion coming out of Hatsu, and I am starting to worry about him getting to 8 wins. I note that he is not attacking with his left hand / arm. This is his primary weapon, and it was that left pectoral that took an injury in 2019, and I am going to guess it’s still causing him trouble. Hokutofuji gets a bloody nose, and is bleeding profusely, but gets his first win of Hatsu.
Mitakeumi defeats Asanoyama – Mitakeumi collects his second Ozeki scalp, and really Asanoyama had nothing today. Not even token pressure to slow Mitakeumi’s advance. Sadly my twisted imagination cooked up a scenario even more outrageous than the original concept for Hatsu 2021. Two Yokozuna under ultimatums, one kadoban Ozeki (Takakeisho) and two Ozekiwake (Shodai and Asanoyama). Please, oh great sumo cat of the Kokugikan, don’t let this come to pass. Mitakeumi improves to 2-1.