It’s surprising to me how much of an effect having a Yokozuna in the tournament can make. He’s only one person, but it changes the entire tenor of the tournament. Coupled with body changes in some top tier rikishi to get their weight down, I think we are seeing some of the better sumo of the last year or more. Sure, things are still a bit odd with pandemic rules in place around sumo, but everyone – fans, rikishi, staff, seem to treat this thing more as a menacing distraction, rather than a disruption now. Part of this is borne out of financial reality. With the Sumo Kyokai forced to limit activities, they are deeply in debt now, and need to find way to engage with fans so that when they are allowed to resume things such as senshuraku parties, and jungyo, there are sumo fans who will attend.
But for now, it’s glorious to enjoy what seems like a complete tournament for the first time in months.
Kaisei defeats Akua – Akua opened strong with a nodowa, but then the two were chest to chest. Kaisei took a left hand inside position, and once he had a hold of Akua, there was little that Akua could do to shut down Kaisei’s offense. Akua, knowing he was in trouble, attempted to rotate into a kubenage, but that just left him turned about in Kaisei’s battle hug. A quick shove and Kaisei picks up his first win since November.
Hidenoumi defeats Daiamami – Hidenoumi came in low, and was trapped by Daiamami grabbing his shoulders, which left him bent over and stuck a the middle of the dohyo. Both men seemed to take a moment to think it over, with Hidenoumi breaking the stalemate by bucking his hips forward and driving ahead for the win. Hidenoumi now 2-0 to start March.
Kotoeko defeats Yutakayama – Good power and aggression by Kotoeko today. I liked to see him work to overwhelm Yutakayama’s solid defense today. The key piece of this match, to me, Yutakayama works to change his grip with Kotoeko firmly against his chest. Kotoeko reads the weight shift and uses even that small amount of motion to power a throw. The kimarite is listed as tsukiotoshi, but it was nicely orchestrated. Kotoeko picks up his second win.
Chiyoshoma defeats Tsurugisho – Solid, straight ahead sumo from Chiyoshoma today, and his win only underscores how tentative Tsurugisho’s lower body is following his injury to his ACL.
Akiseyama defeats Terutsuyoshi – I am starting to be a bit more impressed with Akiseyama’s sumo every day. Terutsuyoshi is no easy mark, and Terutsuyoshi was throwing a lot into this match. Neither one of them could find satisfactory hand placement, so the match was a series of grabs and attempts to hold. This all ended with Terutsuyoshi being turned around, and Akiseyama pushing him out from the rear to improve to 2-0.
Aoiyama defeats Kotoshoho – If you ever wanted a demonstration of Big Dan Aoiyama’s “V-Twin” attack, today is solid tutorial. Both arms applying maximum pressure. Poor Kotoshoho crumped under the second volley. He’s not looking so good right now.
Midorifuji defeats Chiyotairyu – After the initial hit, Chiyotairyu went for a “leapfrog” pull, giving Midorifuji an open invitation to lower his shoulders and just run Chiyotairyu over the edge. A monoii ensued to review some interesting footage of Midorifuji narrowly staying in flight while Chiyotairyu continued to apply downward pressure has he stepped out. After review, the win was given to Midorifuji, and he improves to 2-0.
Hoshoryu defeats Ryuden – A solid yotsu match from both, but I have to compliment Ryuden for setting the terms of the match, and capturing Hoshoryu at the tachiai. But when the two went to exchange throws, Hoshoryu collapsed Ryuden’s pivot and took the match. Impressive effort from both.
Kotonowaka defeats Chiyonokuni – Kotonowaka wanted to take Chiyonokuni’s belt at the tachiai, but the grumpy badger opened with a volley of thrusts, and set the tone of the match. The two traded blows, with Chiyonokuni delivering the better portion of hits. But he got too far forward over his feet, and Kotonowaka slapped him down. Both end the day 1-1.
Kagayaki defeats Tobizaru – Two days in a row, I have watched “Goth Mode” Kagayaki try to keep his sumo calm and focused. But they keep giving him these frantic, busy little guys. But just as he did with Kotonowaka, he stayed low and stable, and just delivered solid fundamental sumo for his second win. Tomorrow he gets a change of pace – Ichinojo!
Tamawashi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin started the processing of trading neck pulls with Tamawashi, and it seemed to become the focal point of the match. But Tamawashi was able to catch Tochinoshin without proper footing, and pulled him down.
Ichinojo defeats Okinoumi – Ichinojo used what I can only describe as an “All Day Tachiai”. Okinoumi was in no rush and waited at the shikiri-sen for Ichinojo to lumber the two steps to engage. When he did arrive, Okinoumi found his left arm pinned in Ichinojo’s armpit, and that was all it took for the Mongolian behemoth to shut down any offense Okinoumi had planned. Ichinojo improves to 2-0.
Kiribayama defeats Endo – Endo fans must be tremendously frustrated, two days in a row Endo found himself in situations that he should have avoided. After dictating the terms of the match today, he allowed Kiribayama work his way out of poor body position, and then work his way into a throw. As Endo rode the sukuinage to the clay, he dropped to 0-2 to start March.
Myogiryu defeats Shimanoumi – Myogiryu went for straight ahead, inside and forward sumo today. Shimanoumi never had a chance to set his feet, unleash any defense, or do much more than blink as Myogiryu improves to 2-0.
Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – Mitakeumi’s weight loss may have given him elements of his old sumo back. If so, I could not be happier. He seems faster, with a better thrust to weight ratio. Today he clocked on to Meisei’s center-mass and just kept pouring on the forward pressure. He starts Haru 2-0.
Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – I give Wakatakakage a good measure of respect for trying to give Terunofuji a solid match. The armpit attack was effective for a moment. But Terunofuji knew how much ring he had left, barred that right arm and used it to toss Wakatakakage around and out. 8 more for ultra-mega Kaiju status.
Hokutofuji defeats Takanosho – A sloppy match, which was all about balance while under attack and maneuver. It was Takanosho who stumbled first, and Hokutofuji’s ultra stable lower body yet again won an otherwise dicey match.
Shodai defeats Onosho – Onosho came in strong and focused. A combination nodowa with strong pressure from his left hand moved Shodai back rapidly. But I am going to guess that the junior tadpole wanted to finish the human diakon before he could employ any of his cartoon sumo, and reached for a pull. A huge mistake as Shodai was ready for this, and one huge thrust put Onosho out. Shodai picks up his first win of Haru.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Wow. huge double arm thrusting exchanges between these two, they were holding nothing back in spite of being real world friends. But as with Mitakeumi, the weight loss seems to have helped Takakeisho tremendously, and a fair measure of his old sumo power has returned. 6 more wins for Takakeisho to clear kadoban.
Takayasu defeats Asanoyama – The two went chest to chest at the tachiai, and Asanoyama ended up with unsatisfactory hand position, and a battle to re-arrange broke out. While Asanoyama improved his hand placement somewhat, it was at the cost of giving burly Takayasu a lethal left hand outside mawashi grip. We can just all this one a “Kisenosato”, and it makes me smile to see Takayasu implement his own version of this move. Struggle as he tried, there was no way out for Asanoyama, and he was dumped over the edge without ceremony.
Hakuho defeats Takarafuji – Much respect to Takarafuji for this match. He kept Hakuho from setting up his preferred attack techniques, and succeeded in stalemating the dia-yokozuna and drawing out the match. Sadly, Takarafuji took a chance to step forward and load a throw. This was just what Hakuho needed to complete a kotenage, and Takarafuji hit the clay. The Boss improves to 2-0.