With the second day in the books, we are well into the first act of the Nagoya basho. Team Tachiai divide the 15 day basho into 3 “acts”, that each seem to have their own purpose and goals. In act 1, we start the basho, remove the ring rust, and see who is hot vs who is not. I am happy to report that it looks like Yokozuna Hakuho has had a workable start to the tournament, and has to be considered the ultimate man to beat for the yusho many days down the road. His chief rival in this goal, Ozeki Terunofuji, likewise seems to be in decent form and fighting well. In the preview podcast, we wondered if it might all come down to the final match of day 15, where (if all goes as it should) Terunofuji will fight Hakuho.
Today we got to see the improved injury response that the kyokai has been training since March, and it seems to be (if nothing else) less brutal. In Juryo, Enho took a beating from Takagenji, and when the match was ruled too close to call, it was clear that Enho was in no condition for the rematch. A short time later in the top division, Ozeki Takakeisho appears to have injured himself in his match against Ichinojo. He seemed to not be able to put any weight on his right knee, and did not move from the side of the ring where the match ended. The crew did not wait for him to “shake it off”, they brought out the wheel chair and took him to be examined. This, to me, is a big improvement. I would be remiss if I did not note that Ichinojo went from rampaging Mongolian behemoth to a gentle giant in the blink of an eye, and took great care to ensure Takakeisho did not further injure himself.
Chiyonokuni defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto had first contact at the tachiai, but that may have been part of Chiyonokuni match plan from the start. Chiyonokuni’s hands were low but thrusting upward, and immediately went to teh back of Ichiyamamoto’s head and pulled him forward and down. Chiyonokuni picks up his first win to advance to 1-1.
Tsurugisho defeats Ishiura – Ishiura can’t buy a win in this match, he blasts directly into Tsurugisho, who gives him a hearty battle-hug and lifts. With Ishiura no longer able to create any forward pressure, burly Tsurugisho walks him out and gently deposits him on the other side of the tawara. Not sure what the battle plan was here, but that was not a good choice.
Tokushoryu defeats Daiamami – Out an abundance of caution, I have ordered a fair amount of my favorite barbecue seasonings. I liked that little feint / false start from Tokushoryu that led to the arm bar hold. With Daiamami captured, Tokushoryu turned and shoved Daiamami out. Clean, simple and rapid. Tokushoryu advances to 2-0.
Chiyonoo defeats Ura – Ura spent the early portion of this match impressively low. Things turned poorly when he raised up to attempt to pull Chiyonoo, releasing pressure. Chiyonoo was ready and never let Ura set his feet for defense again. Points to Ura for using as much territory as he could to attempt to recover, but both men ended up over the west side, with Ural landing in Chiyomaru’s lap. Chiyonoo advances to 1-1.
Chiyomaru defeats Tochinoshin – A worrisome 0-2 start for Tochinoshin, as Chiyomaru takes control of this match, and never lets the former Ozeki anywhere near his belt. Frankly it looked like Tochinoshin did not get in even a token attack in that whole series, and Chiyomaru slapped him around at will.
Kotonowaka defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki opened strong with a thrusting attack that came up short when Kotonowaka found a left hand outside grip and switched on his offense. Kagayaki was captured, and did not have hand placement to return any kind of hold, or generate any offense. Five steps later Kagayaki was out, and Kotonowaka improves to 2-0.
Tamawashi defeats Kaisei – Kaisei opened strong, but Tamawashi got him off balanced, turned him and ran him out with an okuridashi. Tamawashi improves to 2-0, and Kaisei is still looking for his first win.
Shimanoumi defeats Terutsuyoshi – A solid opening strategy from Terutsuyoshi, how worked to get inside and get a grip on Shimanoumi. Shimanoumi used his size advantage to move forward, but could not get Terutsuyoshi set up for a throw or any kind of winning move. The two stalemated in the center of the dohyo with Terutsuyoshi holding a right hand inside grip. Both men worked to set up a throw, but Shimanoumi got theirr first, and picked up his first win. Both end the day at 1-1.
Hidenoumi defeats Takarafuji – Interesting bit of a match here. Hidenoumi had fairly good sumo, and was able to quickly exploit what looks to me like poor foot placement by Takarafuji. Takarafuji was giving ground to set up a stalemate defense, and looks to have set his feet too far back. Rather than continue his advance, Hidenoumi thrust him down to pick up his first win.
Chiyoshoma defeats Aoiyama – After yesterday’s Chiyoshoma flying-henka, which was a joy to watch, he reverts to straight ahead sumo, inviting Aoiyama to a yotsu battle, and the big Bulgarian accepts. Now this robs Aoiyama of his primary attack method, but I am sure he decided that his enormous body gave him a huge advantage in this form. Chiyoshoma did seem to struggle a bit, but Aoiyama made the mistake of trying to stand fast as Chiyoshoma backed him up. The result was Aoiyama raising his center of gravity, and setting up a throw, which Chiyoshoma delivered with grace. Where has this Chiyoshoma been the past 3 years?
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Onosho pretty much blew the tachiai, focusing on Myogiryu’s face while Myogiryu pushed his hands inside. A Myogiryu slap down attempt nearly worked, and Onosho went chest to chest with Myogiryu to try to steady himself. Onosho’s left hand outside grip could not hold, and Myogiryu was in control. Onosho tried several things more or less at the same time, and both went tumbling, with Myogiryu’s hand touching down first. Wild sumo, and Onosho’s first win.
Hoshoryu defeats Kiribayama – To my eye, Hoshoryu wanted that left hand outside enough that he passed up a couple of plum opening to secure it. Once he had a firm hold of Kiribayama, he paused for one heartbeat before he launched a throw that sent Kiribayama tumbling to the clay. Hoshoryu improves to 2-0.
Kotoeko defeats Okinoumi – The contrasts in this match were something to watch. Kotoeko shifting weight, moving his feet and trying to wiggle to better position every moment, vs Okinoumi attempting to dampen all of that, remain focused and settle the fight into a quieter state. After about 4 seconds of this, Kotoeko clearly had the advantage, and too late Okinoumi realized that Kotoeko’s frantic attacks were working, but it was too late and Kotoeko had him out. Both end the day 1-1.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tobizaru – Traditional Chiyotairyu sumo, stand him up, slap him down. Tobizaru had no defense to this, and went tumbling down the east side to drop to 1-1.
Hokutofuji defeats Meisei – Great example of the Hokutofuji “handshake tachiai” today, as Meisei is looking for it, and almost uses it to pull down Hokutofuji at the tachiai. Fantastic improve sumo follows, as Hokutofuji does just about anything to get back into an offensive position, and gets a strong right hand outside grip on Meisei and deposits him over the west end. Hokutofuji improves to 2-0 in a most surprising fashion.
Mitakeumi defeats Takanosho – Mitakeumi dictated the form of this match from the start, and it was a chest to chest battle of endurance. Takanosho played along for a brief time, but realized this led nowhere good for himself, and worked to break away. But this just Mitakeumi the opening he wanted to march forward and take the win. Mitakeumi improves to 1-1.
Terunofuji defeats Wakatakakage – Points to Wakatakakage for a good match plan, it looks like it was left hand outside grip at the tachiai and try to pull down the Ozeki. It was only about 50% effective, and left him out of position to compensate for Terunofuji’s counter attack. Terunofuji worked from arm bar, to double arm bar, to deep left hand outside grip. Wakatakakage seemed to be well aware he was being boxed up, and a moment later Terunofuji carefully lifted and placed him outside the ring. I think this was a great match for Wakatakakage, as he needs to find ways to challenge someone of Terunofuji’s strength and skill.
Shodai defeats Daieisho – These two certainly had the daily quota for matta, and the resulting match was a tenative puzzle of Daieisho hitting the clay on the first step after the tachiai. Wether it was due to some Shodai offensive action, or a simple slippiotoshi, not quite sure. Yes Shodai hand some right-hand action in all of that, but to me it looked more like Daieisho lost more than Shodai won.
Ichinojo defeats Takakeisho – Ichinojo got a grip on Takakeisho early, and walked him out. As Takakeisho stepped out that right knee collapsed and it was clear that the Ozeki was hurt. We got a view of the rapid response protocol in action, and I am happy that it did not take them 4 minutes of Takakeisho agony for them to decide to help. If you watch the replay, Ichinojo knows something is wrong and holds onto Takakeisho and arrests his fall. I am eager to find out what he hurt, and how badly he is injured. Big improvement over prior basho in the response.
Hakuho defeats Endo – I think Endo came into this looking to go chest to chest at the tachiai, but instead was on the receiving end of a volley of blows to the head as Hakuho battered him repeatedly. With Endo disoriented, Hakuho barred Endo’s right arm, put a hand behind Endo’s neck and swung him down. Win number 2 for Hakuho, and hes well on his way to dominating this tournament.