Haru Day 1 Highlights

Lordy lord, its wonderful to have sumo back. Everyone is looking fairly solid, with the exception of Shodai. I know I give Shodai a tough time, much as I did Goeido. The reason is that you can see the greatness in them, but something keeps them from employing the peak of their sport, and it is a shame to watch a great athlete under perform. But this is another matter entirely. I can state that the degrading effects of long term damage from COVID-19 can be enduring and quite limiting, even if you are not a highly trained competitor at the top of your sport. So in this matter, I have acres of sympathy for Shodai, and I salute that he’s mounting the dohyo anyhow and fighting on. Fans of his, don’t be surprised if he loses Ozeki, he may only have about 60% of his normal strength and stamina.

Highlight Matches

Ichiyamamoto defeats Kagayaki – Kagayaki had a good initial combo, landing at least one hand center mass, but Ichiyamamoto countered with a left hand outside grip, and just overpowered Kagayaki. Unusual sumo for Ichiyamamoto who would much rather have shoved Kagayaki around, but it’s what there was. I am going to guess Kagayaki is going to show us some of his traditional ring rust. Ichiyamamoto starts 1-0.

Nishikigi defeats Kotokuzan – Nishikigi had his hands low at the tachiai, it looked like he wanted a right hand frontal grip, but instead he surrendered the inside route to Kotokuzan, who immediately attacked high. At the moment that Nishikigi, Kotokuzan attempts to pull, and that was all Nishikigi needed to finish the match, giving him a 1-0 opening day.

Tochinoshin defeats Akua – Wow, Tochinoshin delivers a left hand forearm smash to Akua’s face, dropping him in place, and eliciting a gasp from the crowd. Brutal. Tochinoshin need every win he can bag, and he is off to a 1-0 start.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyonokuni – That’s a lot of tape on Yutakayama, it would seem that right arm is still a worry. Chiyonokuni’s tachiai seemed to have been formulated around a pair of round house blows, which gave Yutakayama a clear path to Chiyonokuni’s chest. He took full advantage of that, landing solid thrusts while Chiyonokuni was still trying to get his arms moving. This quickly put Chiyonokuni on the bales, and Yutakayama found the power to finish him off. Yutakayama at 1-0.

Kotoshoho defeats Chiyomaru – Two separate pulling attempts by Chiyomaru were completely ineffective. Kotoshoho kept his feet and kept the power applied center-mass. He had Chiyomaru on the move, and kept him from setting up any real defense. 1-0 start for Kotoshoho.

Chiyotairyu defeats Kotoeko – I do enjoy Kotoeko’s enthusiasm, and many times its enough to carry the match. But today it could not help him, even his double inside grip could not help him, as Chiyotairyu calmly pivots at the tawara and deposits him out of bounds. A for effort, F for results. Chiyotairyu 1-0.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Myogiryu – Terutsuyoshi wanted an ashitori, but had to settle for a somewhat clumsy henka / hikiotoshi instead. Its been a fair amount of time since we have seen Terutsuyoshi actually execute a solid ashitori, I wonder if he’s still got the mojo to pull it off.

Aoiyama defeats Shimanoumi – Solid hand placement today by Aoiyama, he continues to struggle to transmit power to ground through that bandaged up left knee, and I think it’s going to keep him from really fighting at much above lower Maegashira level until he can get it in working order. Shimanoumi puts in a couple of good combos, but with Aoiyama latched onto your throat like that, there is not much you can do if you can’t break his grip.

Tobizaru defeats Wakamotoharu – I am not sure if Wakamotoharu was not quite ready to start, or not, but Tobizaru charged in strong and overwhelmed whatever Wakamotoharu had in mind for this match. Power sumo from the flying monkey to start 1-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi was not going to let Chiyoshoma get the advantage at the tachiai, and you can see him really push hard to maintain the advantage. Chiyoshoma attempts to break off the attack, and both rikishi end up at the tawara, and move to throw. Its a mutual toss out, with Sadanoumi stepping out first (confirmed after a monoii) to give Chiyoshoma a win on day 1. Pretty good sumo from both in this match.

Takayasu defeats Okinoumi – It’s been 2 basho since we have seen Takayasu, and I think today’s tachiai is the best one I have seen from him in a while. There was not shouting, no crazy antics. He just takes the fight strongly to Okinoumi. They lock up chest to chest, and for a moment I was hoping there was a stamina contest about to break out. I think Okinoumi worried about that too, and executed a couple of weight shifts to improve his position. Takayasu read this perfectly and used Okinoumi’s moving balance to throw, sending Okinoumi down via uwatenage, and picking up a day 1 win.

Kotonowaka defeats Hokutofuji – I had assumed since his top division debut that Kotonowaka was going to turn into a powerful mainstay of the top division. Today’s match against Hokutofuji shows some of the mechanics that I think is going to take him into the named ranks before very long, and to be honest I am thrilled. Hokutofuji put in a solid match, but Kotonowaka had an answer for every attack. Moreover Kotonowaka’s defensive work today was exemplary, and it kept him in the match until he could corral Hokutofuji and put him off the dohyo.

Takarafuji defeats Ishiura – A poorly time tachiai, that could have been called a matta. Ishiura struggled to get any kind of offense started against Takarafuji’s world class “defend and extend” sumo. When Ishiura went for the leg sweep, he bet the whole match on that move. It missed, and two steps later Takarafuji slapped him down for a day 1. win. Solid match plan for Ishiura, but when Takarafuji is dialed into his sumo, it’s tough to find a way to attack.

Kiribayama defeats Endo – Endo tried to impose his offense at the tachiai, and it worked for just a moment. But a poorly conceived leg trip really handed the match to Kiribayama, who knew exactly what to do with that move. Sadly in the present day, most of his opponents have a good formula for shutting down Endo’s preferred attacks, and its tough for him to dominate a match. Kiribayama starts 1-0.

Meisei defeats Takanosho – Meisei instantly dumps onigiri-kun at the tachiai. Did Takanosho forget to take a second step? If he had moved that left foot forward, even a few inches, he could have prevented Meisei’s uwatedashinage.

Onosho defeats Abi – I was looking forward to this match, and it did not disappoint. One of the important elements is that Abi produces so much forward pressure with that double arm thrusting attack that there is zero chance that Onosho will fall forward onto his face as is his custom. So he was free to dial up the power to maximum and just plow Abi like a country lane covered in snow.

Wakatakakage defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi responded strongly to Wakatakakage’s opening combo, but found himself pushing Osaka air as Wakatakakage moved to the side. I am going to chalk this one up to ring rust, as normally Tamawashi tracks is opponent quite well. Wakatakakage gets a 1-0s start for Osaka.

Mitakeumi defeats Ichinojo – I loved the fact that Ichinojo was the aggressor in the opening moments of this match. I think he surprised Mitakeumi with a fierce start. It all went for naught as Ichinojo tried to pull, and handed advantage to Mitakeumi who instantly capitalized on this mistake and took control. Three steps later, Ichinojo was out and Mitakeumi had won his first match ranked as an Ozeki.

Takakeisho defeats Ura – Ura worked to stay low, but given Takakeisho’s stature, it was not really to Ura’s advantage. As Takakeisho’s thrusting attacks stood him up, Ura could not find anything to grab and tug, and quickly ran out of space on the dohyo. Solid day 1 win for Takakeisho, who needs to make his 8 to clear kadoban.

Daieisho defeats Shodai – Yeah, this is going to be a rough basho for Shodai, I would guess. Suffering for lingering COVID effects, he is up against the best in the sumo world. He has a “Ozeki Black” mawashi now, which is nice to see, but his body is going to be a problem for him. Daieisho gets the upper hand almost at once, and proceeds to have his way for the short duration of this match. Daieisho starts 1-0.

Terunofuji defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu put a lot of power into that tachiai, and you could hear it literally make a “splat” noise as he impacted Terunofuji’s body. We did even get to see signs of the kaiju today, as the Yokozuna calmly bundled Hoshoryu up and tossed him back off the dohyo to think again. Terunofuji 1-0.

10 thoughts on “Haru Day 1 Highlights

  1. That kachi-age from Tochinishin was unassuming but well-placed. I didn’t think it had caught Akua but then his legs just gave out. And you may be right about Kotonowaka. I wonder if he will achieve more than Hokutofuji. He’ll need to get “the big wins”.

    • It looked like concussion to me, but the highlights didn’t stay for long enough to see Akua get up afterwards. Hope he’s OK.

      • He probably received at least a mild concussion. Kachiage is not one of my favorite techniques. Hakuho’s use of it was particularly derided since he was Yokozuna.

        • It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Hakuho’s, though. Akua probably compounded it for himself when he came in at a much more horizontal angle than he should. It looks bad on the live-action, but the slow mo replay shows Akua bent nearly double and running facefirst into Tochinoshin’s elbows, and the kachiage completes itself only because of Tochinoshin standing up.

          I don’t know what tachiai ends with your head in the opponent’s chest, but Akua is probably at least half an Enho too big to be trying that, and unsympathetically, arguably found out why it’s not a good idea if you’re not a sumo midget.

  2. I liked chiyotairyu there, he was like “F this, I’m not getting bullied again by guys like him”

    Ura came in with a clear game plan but that didn’t work out at all.

    Terunofuji shows the “golden boy” his place. There was no contest today but I think hoshoryu might be able to get 1 or 2 ozeki scalps. Looking forward to his performance this basho.

    And boy did I miss Takayasu… I hope he does well this basho and would love to see him get double digits.

  3. It is wonderful to have sumo back, and I am just as grateful to have your highlights back as well Bruce.
    watching how powerless Shodai was today made me sad, and immediately felt this is the end .. I can’t see him save his grade with half the power off. Can’t really see him find 10 in the next basho either.. I miss pre covid Shodai. And I doubt we’ll see him that genki again.

  4. Thx for the recap Bruce!

    Unfortunately. I have to disagree with your statement below as regards Shodai:

    “The reason is that you can see the greatness in them, but something keeps them from employing the peak of their sport, and it is a shame to watch a great athlete under perform.”

    I know you love the guy but there never was, isn’t now, and never will be any greatness in him. He put together a few good tournaments to make it to Ozeki and has been an abysmal failure ever since.

    If he had any “greatness” he would have been super motivated to capitalize on his Ozeki run and try to get himself a Yokozuna rope. Instead he plinks around and finds new ways to embarrass himself in every tournament. Great athletes never consistently under perform like Shodai does, hence he has no greatness in him.

    Personally, I hope he doesn’t get his 8 wins this time out and doesn’t get 10 next time. Then we can finally say goodbye to this faux-zeki for good. I know that’s harsh but this guy is in no way worthy of the Ozeki rank and all the prestige and honors that come with it.

    On a different note, what’s with all the fuss about Tochinoshin using the kachi-age? It’s a legitimate technique and he used it well and executed it perfectly. I far prefer that to the cheesy henka we get to see all to often these days..


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.