A spate of fall / slip / traction / balance failures in today’s matches. I will chalk it up to ring rust in most cases, and maybe some poor surface conditions on the Natsu dohyo. The surface, I am certain, will be addressed overnight. The ring rust? Well, that’s what act 1 is all about.
I need to give a shout out to Kotonowaka. He’s now put 2 Ozeki down for his first 2 days. Not usually what you see from a Maegashira 2, and I think it portends that he’s getting closer to his actual level of ability. He finishes the Ozeki trifecta with Mitakeumi on day 3. Then there is Tamawashi, who is also 2-0 to start, and has scored white stars against both Sekiwake, who have a fair amount of well deserved hype attached to their names. At 37 years old, this guy can still dog out these younger rising stars, and you just have to admire the guy’s mojo.
Midorifuji defeats Kagayaki – Midorifuji struggles to get any offense going at first, but I love how he stays in the match and is able to break contact one step before crossing the bales. Kagayaki did not change his sumo one bit when Midorifuji grabbed his shoulder, and a moment later, it was katasukashi time! Very nice, both are now 1-1.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Kotokuzan – Its common to compare Ichiyamamoto to Abi, both use a double arm thrusting style, I can see the similarity. Today is a great example of how Ichiyamamoto may be a touch better in terms of overall sumo. Kotokuzan delivered a strong counter-attack time and again, but Ichiyamamoto endured and just kept moving forward. Great fundamentals, and he’s now 2-0.
Oho defeats Azumaryu – Oho worked for a right hand outside mawashi grip, and the instant it landed he was in control. Nice work to keep Azumaryu fighting on the top half, but losing on the bottom half. Oho’s first win and is now 1-1.
Yutakayama defeats Meisei – If you want a big thrusting contest, this is your match. There are at least half a dozen moments where Meisei could have put Yutakayama on the deck, as Yutakayama was off balance, on one foot, and did not have his hips square to his opponent. But Yutakayama kept plugging away and gets Meisei to lose balance and step out. He is now 2-0.
Myogiryu defeats Chiyotairyu – Second day in a row, Chiyotairyu goes to immediately pull his opponent down, and gets a quick exit for his troubles. He had Myogiryu moving downward, but he was one step too late and exited the ring before Myogiryu hit the clay. Myogiryu advances to 2-0.
Chiyoshoma defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi opened strong, but to me it looks like Chiyoshoma’s opening move was to set up the shitatenage, and it payed off wonderfully. Sadanoumi rotates and hits the clay with a satisfying thud, and Chiyoshoma picks up his first win to improve to 1-1.
Aoiyama defeats Okinoumi – “Big Dan” Aoiyama had his hands center-mass, and never gave up that advantage. This match is a great lesson about how effective that can be. Okinoumi made matters worse by attempting to pull, giving the advantage to Aoiyama, who picks up his second win for a 2-0 start.
Nishikigi defeats Tochinoshin – Tochinoshin had a great start, got his left hand outside grip, but lost it. When Nishikigi counter attacked, Tochinoshin collapses, falls off the dohyo and is clearly in pain. I have got to assume that right now his right knee is in poor condition. Man, you hate to see this kind of outcome. Nishikigi picks up his first win and is 1-1.
Kotoshoho defeats Shimanoumi – Very straightforward match, with Kotoshoho completely dominating the winless Shimanoumi. Seriously, Shimanoumi had nothing, and caught a Kotoshoho combo full force. Kotoshoho now 1-1.
Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – I had some fairly high hopes for this match, but Terutsuyoshi could not keep his feet and quickly ended up with his hands on the clay. Kotoeko seems to have had the same expectation, and was left standing waiting for the next Terutsuyoshi move. Kotoeko 2-0.
Ura defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji wisely did not come in strong at the tachiai – you just never know what Ura is going to try. But today was straight ahead sumo day for the man in pink, and used some really good technique to never let Takarafuji get close enough to grapple. At one moment Takarafuji pulls forward on Ura’s neck, and from there it’s 2 steps and Takarafuji is out. Ura’s first win and is now 1-1.
Tobizaru defeats Wakamotoharu – While I was looking forward to grand clash of styles, what happened instead was Wakamotoharu loosing his footing and tumbling to the clay. Unexpected, but.. ok. Tobizaru, undeterred, takes one of his customary runs through the crowd anyhow to celebrate that he has a 2-0 start to Natsu.
Onosho defeats Endo – Classic Onosho sumo, Endo came in strong and hit hard at the tachiai, but Onosho was already moving forward. With his hand center-mass, Onosho blew through Endo’s stance and just kept moving. Quick oshidashi win and Onosho is 2-0.
Takanosho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho had the stronger offense at the tachiai: superior hand placement, attacking from underneath, everything you would look for. But As Takanosho moved to escape, Daieisho could not keep his feet and hit the clay. Both end the day at 1-1.
Tamawashi defeats Wakatakakage – As dialed in as Wakatakakage’s sumo is right now, you could wonder how Tamawashi pulled this off. Go watch the combo attacks against Wakatakakage’s upper body. There is a small pull in there that rather than attempt to drop Wakatakakage, is just there to put him off balance, and the second one works. Tamawashi finishes him with a hikiotoshi. Brilliant sumo, his first win against Wakatakakage in 6 attempts, and he’s 2-0.
Abi defeats Hokutofuji – Nice change of opening from Abi, did not immediately deploy the double arm attack before his opponent could stand up. I think this change threw off Hokutofuji’s timing and his balance. When the double arm thrusting attacks began, he found Hokutofuji not set up for defense, and rapidly took him off balance, and moments later out of the ring. Abi picks up his first win and is 1-1.
Hoshoryu defeats Mitakeumi – No other way to put this, Mitakeumi blew the tachiai. He let Hoshoryu dictate the opening move, and never had a second chance to generate any offense. This happens in sumo matches, and it just as easily could have gone the other way. Both end the day 1-1.
Takakeisho defeats Kiribayama – Takakeisho.. winning by… YORIKIRI? Ok, this is indeed seldom seen. But again we saw a somewhat soft tachiai, and Takakeisho leading his attack with his weaker left hand, protecting his right. Both are 1-1 now, but I am quite concerned with Takakeisho’s sumo these two days, and what it implies for his condition.
Kotonowaka defeats Shodai – Kotonowaka steals Shodai’s “cartoon sumo” and finds a way to stay in the ring and on his feet a moment longer than Shodai. The whole match was off balance and a heartbeat away from calamity, so crazy to watch. Kotonowaka has a 2-0 start.
Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – Great battle here, and I really was happy to see Takayasu keep both feet on the clay. Terunofuji was able to transmit power to earth through those knees, and the fight was on. But as Takayasu improved his grip, and broke the Yokozuna’s left hand hold, his right knee gave way and he hit the clay. Terunofuji improves to 1-1.