Haru Day 2 Highlights

While we are only on day 2, there are some clear early standouts for the first act of Haru. I would put shin-Ozeki Mitakeumi at the head of this list. It’s easy to wonder if Mitakeumi had just managed to put together enough wins over the past 6 months to finally hit the 33 mark. But looking at his sumo in the opening two days, his sumo really does seem to have improved to a new level. Close behind is Wakatakakage, whose sumo is tack sharp right now. Daieisho picked up a kinboshi today with a 2-0 start, and then there is Takayasu, who has not had a really good basho in some time looking more like that Sekiwake guy who was on the road to Ozeki years ago. While it is only day 2, it’s great to see some favorites having strong start to a tournament.

Highlight Matches

Kotokuzan defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto reverts back to straight oshi today, but to my eye, it looks like he is keeping his head down in response to Kotokuzan’s tsuppari attacks. This leaves him wide open for the hatakikomi slap down that Kotokuzan serves up to take the match. Both end the day 1-1.

Kagayaki defeats Akua – Kagayaki started strong, but he could not hold the inside hand position, and Akua rallied. After pushing Kagayaki back, Akua reaches forward to pull, directly into a Kagayaki thrust combo. Akua takes a second push to his chest and launches into Dejima (shimpan Onaruto oyakata), who did not look to be in good condition afterward. Kagayaki advances to 1-1.

Nishikigi defeats Tochinoshin – Another opening hit from Tochinoshin, but Nishikigi powers through it and goes right hand inside against the former Ozeki. Unable to get any kind of grip against Nishikigi (he blew his chance with that opening hit), Tochinoshin struggles a bit for any kind of offense as Nishikigi keeps moving forward, and puts Tochinoshin out of the ring. Nishikigi with a 2-0 start.

Yutakayama defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru focuses all of his thrusting power high against Yutakayama’s neck and face, while Yutakayama attacks center mass. It was an even fight until Yutakayama’s hands found Chiyomaru arm pits. With a hazuoshi in place, Yutakayama found it easier to move forward, and made quick work of Chiyomaru, improving to 2-0.

Chiyonokuni defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho had a solid start, but a poorly timed pulling attack left him off balance, and gave Chiyonokuni a chance to regroup. Chiyonokuni pressed forward on offense, and from there it was his match. The finishing move came with Kotoshoho lunging forward, and Chiyonokuni stepping to the side, striking him down as he passed. Both are now 1-1 for March.

Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu went for his standard “stand them up then slap them down” opening combo, but Myogiryu was having none of it. Myogiryu found room to push, moving Chiyotairyu, who then chose to pull against Myogiryu’s forward pressure. Chiyotairyu tumbled at the edge of the dohyo, taking a significant chunk of clay from the corner. Both end the day 1-1.

Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi had the opening advantage, but you can see the point where Kotoeko gets his feet set, and shuts down any further frontal offense from Terutsuyoshi. To me that looked a bit like some gaburi-yori, and it was quite effective against Terutsuyoshi. Kotoeko picks up his first win to improve to 1-1.

Aoiyama defeats Tobizaru – Ah springtime, the month of March is when Aoiyama really seems to have his sumo together each year, and right now he’s looking fairly strong. He can’t quite seem to get the V-Twin attack going, but he manages to grab a hold of Tobizaru, and never lets him get any offense started. Aoiyama improves to 2-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Shimanoumi – Wakamotoharu’s opening gambit rewarded him with a left hand inside position. Try as he might, Shimanoumi could not lower his hips to power forward, and could not break contact to switch to oshi-zumo. With a solid right hand mawashi grip, Wakamotoharu was in no rush to conclude the match, and waited for Shimanoumi to tire a bit, then walked him out. Wakamotoharu picks up his first win to go to 1-1.

Takayasu defeats Sadanoumi – A bit of a “kitchen sink” match that featured an oshi start and a yotsu finish. Sadanoumi did a great job of taking the fight to Takayasu, but I am going to guess that Takayasu is fairly genki right now, as that finishing throw was a bit like Terunofuji deciding it was time to finish a match. Wow. Takayasu now 2-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Okinoumi – This match was all Okinoumi up until the last moment. Okinoumi carefully assembled a solid hold of Chiyoshoma a piece at a time, then worked to position for a throw. As Okinoumi rotated, Chiyoshoma turned, and threw Okinoumi down first. Great recovery from Chiyoshoma, and solid sumo again today. He’s 2-0 and looking good.

Kotonowaka defeats Takarafuji – Its rare to see Takarafuji lose a match where he had an early advantage. Kotonowaka was high at the tachiai, and his opening volley was vague. Takarafuji’s did not answer strongly, and circled away. You can see him stumble for a moment, and Kotonowaka used that moment to finish Takarafuji off. Kotonowaka with a 2-0 start.

Ishiura defeats Hokutofuji – You can see Hokutofuji move a hand to behind Ishiura’s head in the opening moments of this match, ceeding the inside position to Ishiura, and more or less giving up any chance for offense. We see Hokutofuji try multiple times to pull, and each one gives Ishiura a bit more advantage. Try a different combo tomorrow, Hokutofuji. Ishiura gets his first win and is 1-1.

Endo defeats Meisei – Meisei did a great job of blocking Endo’s right hand at the tachiai, and during the early portion of the match. But Meisei could not convert his advantage to a win, and Endo was relentless, eventually getting his right hand frontal grip. Two steps later, it was uwatenage time, and Meisei hit the clay. Endo takes his first win, and is 1-1.

Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Hoshoryu opened strong, but it looks like he did not keep his eyes on Kiribayama, and managed to allow Kiribayama to evade him, get to the side and set up an asymmetrical grip. The moment Hoshoryu realizes his shoulders and hips are not facing his opponent is just a single step before Kiribayama executes the throw, and its down to the clay Hoshoryu goes. I am going to chalk this up to ring rust. Kiribayama improves to 2-0.

Wakatakakage defeats Onosho – A pair of poor choices from Onosho led to his rapid defeat today. He came in high at the tachiai, and immediately attempted a pull. He may have gotten away with it against some rikishi, but Wakatakakage gad a solid hold of his opponent, and blasted Onosho out of the ring, throwing Onosho face first into the clay. Wakatakakage starts Haru 2-0. 20 bonus points for Onosho’s expression following the match, a clear “Well, that was dumb” if ever there was one…

Abi defeats Tamawashi – Much better demo of Abi-zumo today, he gets his hands up and inside at the tachiai, and Tamawashi just cannot respond in time. I am not sure what has Tamawashi at about 20% off his normal intensity, but at this rank he is going to have a tough two weeks if he can’t find a way to rally. Abi improves to 1-1.

Takanosho defeats Shodai – Man, Shodai, this is going to be brutal sir. You can see him try to set up defense and use even a fraction of the “Wall of Daikon”, but Takanosho has control of the attack lane and its a fast trip over the bales for Shodai. Takanosho 1-1. I don’t know where Shodai can go at this point, it seems the lingering COVID problems are going to keep him from executing any real sumo. Brutal.

Mitakeumi defeats Ura – Well, Ura was left without much to try today. Mitakeumi applied a battle hug and just plowed the man in pink into the waiting lap of Futagoyama oyakata. Absolutely impenetrable defensive footwork from Mitakeumi today. 2-0 start for Mitakeumi.

Ichinojo defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho could not get an opening thrust in, and Ichinojo went chest to chest with the Ozeki. At this point there is exactly nothing Takakeisho was going to be able to do, and it was just of question of when Ichinojo was ready to win this match. Ichinojo’s first win, he’s 1-1.

Daieisho defeats Terunofuji – Daieisho picks up a kinboshi, surprising Yokozuna Terunofuji with a strong counter attack. The match started evenly, with Daieisho taking advantage of his superior maneuverability, forcing the Yokozuna to persue. This is a risk for Terunofuji as his injured knees limit his mobility, especially his ability to pivot. Moments later Daieisho catches Terunofuji turned to the side, and runs him out. Solid match from Daieisho, and maybe an off day from Terunofuji. Daieisho with a 2-0 start to Haru.

21 thoughts on “Haru Day 2 Highlights

  1. I agree there’s a lot of quality sumo going on so far in this basho, Bruce. I suspect that Takayasu is calm and collected because his “worst case scenario” (i.e. dropping back down the ranks) has happened. So, instead of worrying about losing he can focus on his sumo these days. (I’m also assuming that he’s feeling more genki than he has in awhile too which helps his confidence). He knows the level of sumo he can use and I’m assuming his long-time training partner is also helping him behind the scenes.

  2. Uh-oh. I stared at Terunofuji’s right heel the whole match today and it still seems to be a problem. It was odd and sad to see him pushed back like that and he placed that heel down VERY gingerly once he was out.

    • True. Also he started the day, and will start the next 13 days, with his dohyo-iri. If his heel is sore, and we know his knees are shot, his ceremonial duties must be taking a huge toll. Is there such thing as being excused from the dohyo-iri for a yokozuna?

      • Absolutely. Hakuho said that there were times when his knee was acting up, that that ceremony felt like torture. He said it was all he could do not to scream, it hurt so bad. Ugh.

  3. Takakeisho just will not make Yokozuna (and will struggle to maintain his Ozeki rank) as long as he becomes helpless as soon as someone gets in close. It’s like he’s two different wrestlers: one who has a ton of power in a compact frame, willing to dish out punishment of all sorts to achieve victory; then another who is timid and unsure of himself because he’s somehow never bothered to learn how to cover his biggest weakness.

    Shodai’s a whole ‘nother story. He’s not healthy, but he also was a weak Ozeki candidate to start with. Whatever potential promise he held has had its shine scuffed by his tenure at the sport’s second highest rank. Mentally, he feels done. It’s not like Tochinoshin and Takayasu, with injuries capping their ceilings; Shodai simply flew too high and his wings are now melting away, and the fall will be quick and hard.

    On the other end of the spectrum, how about Kotonowaka? Here’s a up and comer who is finally fulfilling his tantalizing hints of superstardom. He’s got the lineage, and with every basho, he’s got more and more confidence and knowledge built up. He’ll be a sanyaku mainstay soon if he can avoid being banged up. And Wakatakakage is already there, and looks like he belongs. The sport underwent one sea change over the last year or so; now another is here, with more old timers aging out and a new crop willing to fill the power void. It’s been fun to see, making each tournament pretty unpredictable.

    • I think Takakeisho’s story is a bit more complicated than you’re making out. He’s beaten Mitakeumi chest-to-chest — it’s just that he injured himself doing it.

  4. Always enjoy seeing Takayasu put on his fighting face and focusing, that the way to win.
    When he puts on the baby face I worry.

  5. It seemed like Takakeisho did not want to fight too hard against Ichinojo. It’s against Ichinojo he got inured a couple of times while trying to employ his usual oshi zumo. I think Takakeisho is willing to give up one match to reduce the risk of injury.

    And how about the bubble gum pink mawashi of Ura? I am enjoying it :)

  6. What a tournament so far, I know we’re only 2 days into this one but already there are fireworks and surprises among the 8 wrestler occupying the top 4 ranks.

    The Yokozuna is 1-1
    The 3 Ozeki are a combined 3-3
    The 2 Sekiwake are a combined 3-1 (best of the 4 ranks)
    The 2 Komusubi are a combined 1-3

    Eight guys at the top of the banzuke, after 2 days are a combined 8-8. I was for sure not expecting that.

  7. Well, we got Attack-Attack-akage against Onosho today! Fierce Sanyaku level sumo from the new Sekiwake.
    Vintage belt work from Endo – when he does stuff like this one briefly forgets all the times he gets blasted out too easily.
    Good to see Chiyonokuni looking something like his old aggressive and mobile self. (I remain skeptical that all that tape all over his shoulder can actually be performing any useful function…)
    Great tussle between Kirbayama and Hoshoryu. They seem very evenly matched and I hope there will be many more such tussles over the coming years.
    Ichinojo went for a little face-slap move at the Tachiai, which despite being perhaps slightly half-hearted (I don’t believe that deep-down he is really a face-slappy kind of guy) seemed to help him close the distance and get straight on to Takakeisho’s belt. Might he have received some advice/encouragement from (ex-)Hakuho in this regard?

  8. Ichinojo absolutely shutdown Takakeisho. Beautiful to see. If Ichinojo rallies, as he’s capable of, he and Abi could be favorites for eventual promotion to Ozeki.

  9. I can’t let the day pass without noting Hakuyozan’s misbehavior against Enho down in Juryo. First, on a matta, Hakuyozan unnecessarily shoved Enho clear off the dohyo. Then, after Enho had soundly defeated him, and Hakuyozan was well outside the bales, he once again inexcusably shoved Enho off the dohyo. I don’t suppose there is any kind of disciplinary action which will be taken against him, but there should be.

  10. I have never seen Ichinojo move that fast. Someone must have told him that is all you can eat at the Sizzler 😂😂😂

    • “Oh, no…Its our nightmare come true…Its all you can eat night…and here come a party of Sumo Wrestlers…Quick…order another two Cows and fifty more Chickens…”

  11. What sort of stats would Enho need to post to scramble off the J barge and back onto the mothership ?…

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