You might read this post and think you had stumbled on one of my introductory rants from May. But sadly the headline topic has not really changed in the last two months. The Yokozuna and Ozeki corps is in shambles. 1 win and 3 losses for the opening day. It’s true that high temperature and high humidity really accelerate rust and other forms of oxidation, but I don’t think all of what we saw from the top men can be chalked up to ring-rust today. In fact only Mitakeumi and both Komusubi (Abi and Hoshoryu) were able to get a white star today. A pathetic 3-5 for the “top men of sumo”.
Hat tip to Ichinojo for showing us sumo fans what happens when you hang out in the heya for 4 months eating ice cream and bench pressing ponies due to COVID kyujo in May.
Ryuden defeats Chiyomaru – Excellent strategy from Ryuden, who focused on controlling Chiyomaru’s lower body while Chiyomaru attempted to attack the face / neck of Ryuden. Ryuden was able to get a grip around that enormous belly of Chiyomaru, and walked the round man out for his first win. 7 more of those this month and Ryuden will be back in the top division for Aki, he starts 1-0.
Nishikifuji defeats Daiamami – Debut match for Nishikifuji, and his tachiai was strong and sharp, and it overwhelmed whatever Daiamami had in mind to start the match. Daiamami panicked and tried to pull him down, but that just fueled Nishikifuji’s charge. He starts his Makuuchi career with a win at 1-0.
Yutakayama defeats Oho – Did we want a brute strength chest to chest power pushing contest? Why, yes we did! Tons of effort from both men, and no one could maintain an advantage or establish a grip. Oho does manage to get a right hand outside hold, but its flimsy and Yutakayama locks him up in the center of the dohyo and there they stay. Stalemated, Yutakayama tries a grip change, and gets just enough weight shift that he can move Oho back and out. What a fight! Yutakayama starts Nagoya 1-0.
Tsurugisho defeats Onosho – Tsurugisho wisely exploited Onosho’s greatest weakness – his tendency to get his weight too far forward. He makes quick work with a hikiotoshi, netting a 1-0 start.
Myogiryu defeats Takarafuji – I am holding out hope that Takarafuji has recovered from whatever injury caused his terrible 4-11 finish at Natsu, and he looked strong and steady today. He quickly was able to set up defensive position, and contained Myogiryu’s attacks. With Myogiryu near the tawara, Takarafuji put his right hand on Myogiryu’s chest and moved him back, but Myogiryu answered with a hatakikomi. A monoii showed that Takarafuji touched a hand down while Myogiryu was still in the air, giving Myogiryu a 1-0 start to Nagoya.
Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Chiyoshoma did a great job of tangling up Terutsuyoshi, and shutting down all attempts at offense. With his first two attack forms shut down, he attempted some manner of Ura style shoulder lift (sori), and I give high marks to Chiyoshoma for collapsing that one and stampeding Terutsuyoshi directly out. Chiyoshoma 1-0.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Midorifuji – Ichiyamamoto is, at times, better at applying Abi-zumo than even Abi is. He showed great skill and dexterity getting his hands inside and connecting to Midorifuji’s upper chest. From the moment that the first cluster landed, Midorifuji to keep his feet, and found himself moved back and quickly out. Ichiyamamoto starts 1-0, and looked in excellent form today.
Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – Meisei had a lot of lateral power today, repeatedly batting away Kotoshoho’s probing attacks. As the match progressed, Meisei continued to disrupt Kotoshoho’s balance a piece at a time, until he was able to swat him down, improving to 1-0.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyotairyu – A quick match that paired Kotoeko’s forward charge and Chiyotairyu’s pulling response. Both crashed out of the dohyo, which led to a monoii. A rematch was called, and in the second fight, Kotoeko kept a hold of Chiyotairyu and drove him from the ring to be awarded the win. 1-0 for Kotoeko.
Nishikigi defeats Shimanoumi – Nishikigi set up right hand inside straight from the tachiai, and never let up. Shimanoumi tried to counter, but could not break that hold, or lessen its effect. Nishikigi dropped his hips and walked forward, taking the win with a solid oshidashi to start 1-0.
Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Surprisingly short match given the amount of sumo that took place. Hokutofuji got his hands inside and looked to set up a lot of forward pressure. As he pressed forward, Tochinoshin deftly pivoted his shoulders and unbalanced Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji stumbled forward, and Tochinoshin finished him with a slap down. 1-0 for Tochinoshin.
Tobizaru defeats Okinoumi – Tobizaru continues his dominance over Okinoumi (5-2 now) with some wild and frantic sumo. The entire match was Okinoumi trying to passivate Tobizaru and wrap him up, with Tobizaru refusing to let his hands go quiet. A strong tug forward by Tobizaru lowered Okinoumi’s upper body, and then somehow Tobizaru was able to pull him down from there. I have watch the finish of that match a few times, and I am still not quite sure the human body can work that way. Tobizaru starts 1-0.
Aoiyama defeats Sadanoumi – If you take a look at Aoiyama, you see a giant pasty-white pile of flab and blubber with pendulous man-breasts. You would think this kind of guy would have a giant easy chair with a built in beer fridge, and would be parked in that thing all day every day watching sports. Ok, maybe so, but then what the hell was that? An agile, dare I say graceful escape at the tawara to put speed demon Sadanoumi on the deck and dance away with a win. The monoii confirmed it, and “Big Dan’s” invitation to try out for the Bolshoi is certain.
Endo defeats Wakamotoharu – Endo gets his hands inside at the tachiai, and Wakamotoharu can’t find any way to disarm Endo’s thrusting attack center mass. It’s three quick steps and Wakamotoharu is out of the ring to hand Endo a day 1 win at 1-0. Solid sumo from Endo.
Hoshoryu defeats Ura – Ura had a bit of a late tachiai, and that split second probably gave Hoshoryu everything he needed to set up the superior position as the two connected chest to chest. Ura dialed up the forward pressure to try and dislodge Hoshoryu, and Hoshoryu responded by pivoting his shoulders, and pulling Ura forward. It worked perfectly and the man in the pink mawashi hit the deck. Hoshoryu starts 1-0.
Tamawashi defeats Daieisho – You can watch this match, and it does not look like much, but note Tamawashi’s combo blows to Daieisho’s head, rapid right-left hits within moments of each other. Tamawashi is not a small or underpowered fellow, so I would liken that to being struck in the head with a cricket bat in rapid side to side succession. Yeah, I would hit the clay too. Tamawashi 1-0.
Ichinojo defeats Wakatakakage – People love Wakatakakage, and for good reason. He’s got wonderful technique, he wins a lot, he’s a handsome fellow. But sometimes being enormous is a valid sumo strategy. Especially when that enormity has had 4 months to train and rest. Ichinojo 1-0.
Kotonowaka defeats Shodai – Shodai pulls a well positioned Kotonowaka, and eats a face full of oshi. Points to Kotonowaka for working that one perfect, and puss-bucket Shodai is now 0-4 against Kotonowaka. Pull it together Shodai, or it’s Ozekiwake for you.
Mitakeumi defeats Takanosho – Well, at least Mitakeumi got the memo about being kadoban. This guy has been hurt since May, and had really not trained for this tournament, so it’s going to be a tough and rocky road to day 15 for him. Today he kept his sumo low and focused, and overcame a last moment pull / slap down from Takanosho to pick up his first win. Mitakeumi 1-0.
Kiribayama defeats Takakeisho – Takakeisho had a good start, but could not keep Kiribayama away from his belt. As a result, Kiribayama captured him and put him across the bales with a yorikiri. Kiribayama 1-0.
Abi defeats Terunofuji – Yeah, this one did not look good. My compliments to Abi for getting that arm lock and swinging Terunofuji out. Improvised but brilliant none the less. As is always the case, it’s all a matter of Terunofuji’s knees and being able to actually fight. I wonder if maybe he’s going to be kyujo in week one. Abi 1-0.