On the final day of act 1, the crowd of undefeated rikishi was thinned out, as three took their first loss in a day of rebound sumo. Sadly the same was not true for the winless crew, who fought with spirit, but still managed to not find their first wins.
With act 1 now complete, we have an idea of who is hot and who is not. The leaders coming out of the first five days are no surprise with Terunofuji and Takakeisho at 5-0, and joined by Abi near the bottom of the banzuke. Abi has been fighting his way back up the ranks after a suspension that ended in March, and he has been blasting his way higher ever since, scoring 3 lower division yusho along the way. He’s more focused, a bit heavier, and a bit stronger now than his first incarnation, and I have to wonder how long it will take him to fight his way up to the named ranks.
On the “who is not” list, a few surprising names. Chief among them Hoshoryu and Kiribayama. Both of them are capable young rikishi who will be top division mainstays for some time to come barring injury. What has sapped their performance now? It’s hard to say, and is traditional in the sumo world, no one is telling.
Abi defeats Akua – That opening tow-arm attack from Abi seems to be unstoppable. There was a time during his first period in the top division where nearly everyone took a loss because of it. Then folks figured it out and had a ready defense. I wonder if that will happen this time too. But for today, the guy is unbeaten at the lower end of the banzuke, 5-0, as Akua crumples his way his 3rd loss.
Chiyomaru defeats Shohozan – Readers know that I am eager to see Shohozan smack the curry out of someone, just because it’s his brand of sumo. But today we get to see Chiyomaru disrupt him from the tachiai, land a pull, and quickly put Shohozan’s feet over the bales for a loss. Chiyomaru improves to 2-3.
Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi picks up his first loss in a torinaoshi. Chiyonokuni heaped on the offense from the tachiai, moving Sadanoumi back. Sadanoumi managed a reverse at the tawara, which Chiyonokuni countered with a throw. But it looked like he had a foot out, and a monoii declared dotai, and it was rematch time. The second time, Chiyonokuni left no doubt, keeping Sadanoumi squarely in his front quarter, and delivering a stomping yorikiri. Chiyonokuni improves to 2-3.
Tochinoshin defeats Kagayaki – Tochinoshin got a right hand inside while Kagayaki tried to initiate his oshi-zumo. Unable to get his left hand in place, Tochinoshin improvised a bit, and found he could move forward. With Kagayaki at the bales, Tochinoshin’s left hand found the mawashi, and the win soon followed. Welcome back sir, he picks up his first win of November to improve to 1-4.
Kaisei defeats Yutakayama – Kaisei was able to set up a left arm ottsuke at the tachiai to prevent Yutakayama’s right hand from finding a hold. This put Kaisei in control, and he used it to pin Yutakayama to his front, keep him from lowering his hips. Kaisei converted that to a right hand inside grip, and once that much rikishi has a hold of you, you are in trouble. Kaisei improves to 2-3.
Chiyotairyu defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s handshake tachiai failed to find it’s mark, and Chiyotairyu gave him the denshamichi express. Chiyotairyu improves to 3-2.
Hidenoumi defeats Ishiura – Ishiura went for a big hit, then shift left at the tachiai. This did not work quite as well as hoped, as Hidenoumi was now to the side of Ishiura, grabbing him an lifting him like a bin on trash day, carrying him out and tossing him toward the timekeeper. Hidenoumi improves to 3-2.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – Terutsuyoshi tried to get close at the tachiai, but Aoiyama pushed him away, and turned on the V-Twin. But Terutsuyoshi was relentless, and pushed low and inside. Aoiyama broke contact, and back to another session with the V-Twin applied to Terutsuyoshi’s face. Still Terutsuyoshi did not give up, and was rewarded with a right hand inside grip. With both men tiring, Terutsuyoshi unleashed a shitatenage, dropping Aoiyama to the clay and claiming his 3rd win. Nice work, and persistence payed off for Terutsuyoshi today.
Tobizaru defeats Kotonowaka – Tobizaru with a low flying henka today put him behind Kotonowaka at the tachiai, and he made fast work of the hapless Kotonowaka from there. Tobizaru improves to 3-2.
Ura defeats Chiyoshoma – Ura lined up almost to the tokudawara, as both of them were eyeing the other for tachiai shenanigans. Sadly, no acrobatics were forthcoming, and the two grappled and the fight was on. Chiyoshoma had better hand placement, but as usual, Ura was impossibly low. With the two stalemated for a moment, Ura pulled down on his right and twisted, dropping Chiyoshoma with the lowest tottari possibly ever seen in modern times. Brilliant! Ura improves to 4-1.
Tamawashi defeats Kotoeko – Everyone is besting Kotoeko, and its kind of depressing. Tamawashi makes short work of him today, improving to 4-1.
Takayasu defeats Hoshoryu – No chance to use that inhuman endurance today, Hoshoryu had a workable offensive position at the tachiai, and Takayasu decided he was going to need to be dispatched. Hoshoryu engaged in some very nice rescue moves at the bales, but in the process of trying to twist away, put a foot over the bales and into the janome, giving Takayasu his fourth win.
Endo defeats Shimanoumi – Much like Kotoeko, Shimanoumi is unable to find any wins in act 2, and exits the initial phase of the basho with 0-5. Shimanoumi has the bulk of the offense today, and had Endo hurtling back when Endo applied a slap down. Shimanoumi hit the clay, Endo went over the West side, and the gumbai pointed East. But some times at the height of our reverie, a monoii is called, and a bunch of guys in black robes wreck the party. Endo is declared the winner, and improves to 3-2.
Takarafuji defeats Onosho – Fine, can we at least have Onosho break the winless spell? Well, no. He blasts in hard to Takarafuji’s waiting defense, but if its Onosho, you know he is probably off balance. Takarafuji tips him to the side a time or two, then slaps him past to crash over the edge of the dohyo. Takarafuji improves to 3-2, as both men linger on the dohyo expecting a monoii.
Daieisho defeats Ichinojo – Daieisho dials it up to “11” again today, and gets Ichinojo moving. Once the Boulder is rolling, best to get out of the way and let it land. Ichinojo responds in kind, but thrusting against Ichinojo’s massive body is akin to hitting the broad side of a barn. You just can’t miss. Ichinojo survives about 10 second and steps out, as Daieisho improves to 2-3.
Meisei defeats Kiribayama – The final fellow in the winless tribe can’t find a white star either, and I hope all of them go out for steamed crabs and tall beers together to commiserate. To me, it had to be a bit of a heartbreak for Kiribayama, as he had Meisei on defense, and moving astern. Then some sort of ur-Meisei took possession for the briefest moment, and hurled Kiribayama with monster-truck force. Where the hell did that come from? Meisei improves to 3-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi had fantastic defensive sumo going for a while, but after Wakatakakage’s first and second offensive combo, the two paused, and Mitakumi did not guard his left side. In went Wakatakakage’s right hand, giving him a two hand grip, and there was nothing Mitakeumi could do to prevent Wakatakakage’s advance and win. Wakatakakage improves to 2-3.
Takakeisho defeats Myogiryu – It was not flashy or overly exciting, but we did get to see Takakeisho broadly apply “his brand of sumo” and dispatch Myogiryu without too much resistance. If Takakeisho can stay in this groove, I am hoping to see him compete for the cup in week two. Some of his best sumo in the past year, and I love it. He improves to 5-0.
Okinoumi defeats Shodai – Well, Okinoumi had this one in the bag from the tachiai. Shodai seemed a bit surprised to be captured with a deep left from Okinoumi at the tachiai. Shodai tried some of his pivoting escape moves, but look at that lateral motion from Okinoumi! No escape there, Ozeki, and out you go. Okinoumi improves to 2-3.
Terunofuji defeats Takanosho – I do love Onigiri-kun, and he put on a heck of a fight. But again we see Terunofuji’s opponent appear to do well for a few moments, maybe even gain some level of advantage and try a finishing move. But out comes the kaiju and in a blink of an eye, the Yokozuna’s opponent is sprawled out on the clay. 5-0 for Terunofuji. Wow.