I loved day 1. It was fantastic, and as Josh pointed out, it was everything sumo fans around the world could have hoped for. Nagoya and Tokyo are two very different places. I love that this first basho outside of the capital in the COVID era shows us that difference. Nagoya is ready to cheer on the rikishi with enthusiasm and overflowing happiness that this increment of normal life in Japan appears to be at least partially restored.
There are some fine matches on the torikumi today, but what could be one of the most potent matches of the first half of the basho happens in the final slot – Hakuho vs Endo. Much like Harumafuji vs Yoshikaze – both could be in the ICU on ventilators, and would find a way to bash each other into a bloody mess if they had a match. For an example of the sparks that fly between them, I present this highlight video
What We Are Watching Day 2
Chiyonokuni vs Ichiyamamoto – I am sure Chiyonokuni is disappointed with his day 1 loss to Tokushoryu, but hopefully he comes in today ready to out-thrust debutante Ichiyamamoto, who won his first match. This will be a pusher-thruster match deluxe, and I am expecting a lot of hit and move sumo for as long as these two can keep it going.
Tsurugisho vs Ishiura – Insane 80kg+ different between these two, but their career record is tied 4-4. We gave yet to see much sumo from Ishiura, so I am hoping he can use his superior thrust to weight ratio today to deliver some blistering on-dohyo action.
Daiamami vs Tokushoryu – Following he excellent day 1 form, I now have to keep a worried eye on Tokushoryu. I fear he may be “in the zone” again, and could string together enough wins to put my buttocks at risk. His approach is so simple yet effective. Just keep your weight centered, stay heavy and don’t fall down or go out. He tends to win against Daiamami (5-3), so lets see if Tokushoryu can open 2-0.
Chiyonoo vs Ura – With Ura back in the top division, it’s time for fans to experience the magic of Ura every day. Is he going to win? Is his body going to explode? Will his knee fail mid-bout, unleashing a ghastly horror across our TV screens? Such is the magic he brings to the dohyo. These two have only fought once since Ura returned from injury, and Ura pretzeled Chiyonoo for a win. Care to try for two?
Tochinoshin vs Chiyomaru – I have to hope that Tochinoshin’s day 1 match was just ring rust, and not an indicator that there really is nothing left of that bandaged knee. Both men are looking for their first win today, with Tochinoshin having a 5-1 career advantage.
Kagayaki vs Kotonowaka – I am a fan of both these rikishi, but I genuinely want to see if maybe Kagayaki had gotten his sumo back in working order, If so, I expect him to possibly rack up double digit wins this far down the banzuke. Kotonowaka’s best bet it to try for a throw early, and hope that he can stick it before Kagayaki can get his feet set.
Tamawashi vs Kaisei – 21 career matches between these two, with today being a great chance for Kaisei to break through some of that ring rust that was on display day 1 against Terutsuyoshi. Both of these veterans have seen better days, but hopefully a rivalry this deep can spark some powerful sumo action.
Terutsuyoshi vs Shimanoumi – I would really like to think that Terutsuyoshi is due for a good basho, given that he has suffered a string of sometimes brutal make-koshi tournaments for the last year or so. He will need to overcome Shimanoumi’s 50kg mass advantage, and 7-4 career record to pick up his second win today.
Takarafuji vs Hidenoumi – A rematch of Natsu day 5, lets hope that Takarafuji keeps his balance centered this time and shuts down the bulk of Hidenoumi’s preferred attack routes. I worry that Takarafuji’s “brand of sumo” relies on heroic amounts of strength and stamina that may be fading as he ages.
Aoiyama vs Chiyoshoma – I am currently 6,567 miles from Nagoya. That’s 10,586 km in the rest of the world. But even at this extreme range, I can see Chiyoshoma’s tachiai from here. Big Dan, don’t rush into this one, or you are going to get a face full of clay.
Onosho vs Myogiryu – Normally when talking about a Onosho loss, its all about him being too far out over his toes. But his day 1 loss to Hoshoryu saw him simply overpowered. I think that was due to a combo of ring rust and possibly surprise. Hopefully it motivated Onosho, and he shows up with a lot of focus today. He has a 7-3 career advantage over Myogiryu, which helps a bit. I am certain Myogiryu knows what to do here, and it will come down to knowing when to let Newton help finish Onosho off.
Kiribayama vs Hoshoryu – I think we are getting close to the point where both of these rikishi will start to show better form, and begin to press for higher rank. I like this as a test match to see if we can see that explosive power from Hoshoryu for a second consecutive day. That new red mawashi certainly seems to be working for him.
Kotoeko vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi is quite the sumo journeyman. He quietly works the ranks between M1 and M8, and calmly delivers quality sumo match after match. I think we may see another good match from him today against Kotoeko, and it may be a great contrast between Kotoeko’s power and mobility against Okinoumi’s efficiency and balance.
Chiyotairyu vs Tobizaru – Sumo’s thunder demon, Chiyotairyu, looked completely disrupted day 1, and I hope to see him in better form today against Tobizaru. Tobizaru took their only prior match, day 7 of Aki 2020, winning with an underarm throw.
Hokutofuji vs Meisei – Fans talk about Hokutofuji, and how he has potential to be a kanban rikishi. I see the potential in him too, but wish he could find a way to consistently deliver wins. He fights well, and has an impressive ability to keep himself in a match, but still somehow manage to lose. I keep hoping he will find a route to take that next step and find the way to convert all of this great sumo into wins.
Takanosho vs Mitakeumi – Home town favorite Mitakeumi needs to shake off whatever had a hold of him on day 1 against Ichinojo. That was some solid week 2 Mitakeumi sumo on display on opening day, and I did not like it one bit. Too early to lay the blame at the feet of Andy and Josh who tapped him to do well this July? Takanosho has a 5-2 career record against the Original Tadpole, so he’s got his hill to climb today.
Terunofuji vs Wakatakakage – I find myself more wound up for any match this July that features Terunofuji than I do for anyone else. There are so many things that can go wrong for him at this point on the narrow and treacherous path to sumo’s highest rank, that each day’s match has and oversized risk / reward ratio. He’s shown he can contain, restrain and eliminate Wakatakakage. This includes winning the last 4 in a row on the clay.
Shodai vs Daieisho – Shodai showed improved form on day 1, and I would like to see things tighten up even a bit more for the next 2 weeks. It would do everyone in sumo a lot of good if Shodai can be really dominant in July, and put to rest worries that his sumo is not quite ready for him to remain at Ozeki. Great test for that on day 2, as Daieisho holds an 8-2 career lead over the human daikon.
Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – Ichinojo struggles against Takakeisho, who tends to pick a spot on the vast expanse of Ichinojo’s torso and just push for all he can muster. I think today’s fight will come down to Ichinojo getting a hand somewhere on Takakeisho and getting some form of grip, before the Grand Tadpole can shove him into the zabuton zone.
Hakuho vs Endo – We previewed this one in or podcast. These two have a history of beating the snot out of each other. In fact Endo can be on a solid 0-8 record, face Hakuho, and suddenly he’s found his sumo and is able to put up a big fight. It’s been a year since the last time they have fought, which went to Hakuho. I think Endo will have some excellent tactics today, and will have a narrow window to hand the Yokozuna his first loss of the tournament. I am sure The Boss knows about the early shallow grip, but I expect Endo will try something high and deep first instead today.