Aki Day 1 Highlights

I am very pleased with day 1. A solid day of sumo with some great finishing moves, good sumo from some of the Ozeki corps and solid effort overall. Nobody seemed to “phone it in” and there were no howlers from the gyoji. What more could one ask for?

I want to call specific attention to Kotonowaka, who was probably robbed in Nagoya. He had a 7-3 record at the end of day 10, when his stable was declared COVID-kyujo. Now note that Ichinojo won the cup with 3 losses. I am not saying Kotonowaka would have taken the Emperor’s cup, but we did not get to see him vie for the yusho in the final act of Nagoya. Given that he picked up right where he left off today with strong, witty and aggressive sumo, I think he would have played an important role in the final weekend. If he can stay healthy, I predict he will be in the mix this September.

Highlight Matches

Hiradoumi defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi kept himself compact, and all of his energy forward. He looked strong for the first few moments, but Hiradoumi made sure to shift the pressure to Shimanoumi’s right knee. From there, there was a big opening, Hiradoumi took it and won the match after he broke Shimanoumi’s stance. Intelligent, if brutal, sumo for Hiradoumi to start 1-0.

Mitoryu defeats Tsurugisho – A new battle of the mega-fauna, with each man around 200kg. The were even into the tachiai and the initial exchange. It looked to me that Tsurugisho attempted to pivot left, but lost his right hand grip. With his body turned, Mitoryu drove forward against minimal defense and walked Tsurugisho out. Mitoryu starts 1-0.

Terutsuyoshi defeats Yutakayama – Yutakayama had a clear advantage in size and strength, but I loved watching Terutsuyoshi stay mobile, and keep Yutakayama from squaring his hips and driving forward. Terutsuyoshi ended up breaking Yutakayama’s right hand inside, and Yutakayama knew he was at risk. Terutsuyoshi proceeded to take control of the match, setting up a twist down. The kainahineri took the match, looked great and delighted fans around the world. Good start for Terutsuyoshi now at 1-0.

Oho defeats Chiyoshoma – Oho showed a lot of power to try and counter Chiyoshoma’s superior sumo technique. The match ended with a mutual throw that saw Oho hit the clay, and Chiyoshoma get the gumbai. But a monoii was called, and it seems Chiyoshoma’s top knot hit first, losing him the match. Tough break for him, but that was sharp sumo from Chiyoshoma. Oho improves to 1-0.

Ichiyamamoto defeats Ryuden – Returnee Ryuden did not look strong today, as Ichiyamamoto got his hands inside, and proceeded to unload volley after volley on Ryuden’s upper body. Unable to set his feet or lower his hips, Ryuden was pushed back and eventually out on the east side for an Ichiyamamoto win. He starts Aki 1-0.

Chiyotairyu defeats Okinoumi – Classic Chiyotairyu sumo – stand them up then slap them down. He does this so very well that even when experience rikishi like Okinoumi face him, and know it’s coming, there is not much you can do about it. Chiyotairyu starts with a win at 1-0.

Takanosho defeats Kotoshoho – A healthy Takanosho at this rank should turn in double-digit wins. On opening day, he completely dominated Kotoshoho, taking an inside hand position and dialing up the pressure. Takanosho wins day one, to start 1-0.

Nishikifuji defeats Kotoeko – Nishikifuji had his body all over the dohyo in this match, and while he did not look like he was in control, he was imparting most of that chaos into Kotoeko, who had no answer to any of it. Tossed like a cork in the sea, Kotoeko was quickly tossed off the dohyo as Nishikifuji advances to 1-0.

Hokutofuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu dominated the start of this match but could not finish Hokutofuji on the opening combo. Hokutofuji managed to break Myogiryu’s right hand grip, and it was a his turn to attack. I liked that we saw a bit of gaburi-yori in there. I would love to see a healthy Hokutofuji turn in a good tournament this September. He’s 1-0.

Tochinoshin defeats Onosho – Onosho, come on man. Classic balance problems from Onosho, coupled with strong performance from Tochinoshin means Onosho takes a tumble and roll. Who didn’t see this one coming? Tochinoshin 1-0.

Endo defeats Aoiyama – Big Dan had his match plan disrupted by Endo’s opening combo. He tried to recover with a kotenage, but Endo’s balance was excellent, and he was not giving Aoiyama one centimeter of space to recover. Endo starts 1-0.

Wakamotoharu defeats Sadanoumi – Day one award for best improvisational sumo goes to Wakamotoharu. Sadanoumi expertly dismantled Wakamotoharu’s defense, had his hips low and his body chest to chest against Wakamotoharu. But Wakamotoharu found a grip, lifted and turned. It worked, and we got to see an utchari today! I do love Wakamotoharu’s expression of satisfaction following the win. I see that from my cat when she does something crazy that actually works. Wakamotoharu 1-0.

Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – Man, another chance to appreciate the sumo technique of Takarafuji, which was just fantastic for the first moments of today’s match. He would not let Takayasu get his lower body in any kind of working position. But Takarafuji did not wait him out, and attempted a pull down. This was a risky move, and he handed the match to Takayasu as a result.

Nishikigi defeats Ura – Ura got captured immediately by Nishikigi, and really seemed to have no workable “Plan B”. As Nishikigi drove forward, Ura tried anything he could, which was pulling on Nishikigi’s head. He may have gotten a handful of hair, but it really did not matter as Nishikigi cleanly drove him off the dohyo to win his first match.

Daieisho defeats Meisei – Daieisho seems to be lacking some of his speed an power of last year. Rumor is he hurt his lower back, and that has sapped some of his performance. Today, he saw a mistake from Meisei, and instantly switched attack to slap him down, and take his day 1 match. Daieisho is now 1-0.

Tamawashi defeats Hoshoryu – This match went somewhat like I thought it might. Hoshoryu, always earnest, wants to use his best technique and overcome Tamawashi. Tamawashi, a long serving veteran of the top division, just says, “Hey kid, what’s that on our chin?”, then proceeds to lay about 100kg of iron will right on Hoshoryu’s face. Hoshoryu’s completely disrupted, and gets tugged, pushed, crumpled and pushed out from an oblique angle. Hopefully he is ok. Tamawashi starts 1-0.

Kotonowaka defeats Wakatakakage – Kotonowaka picks up where he left off in Nagoya: strong confident sumo. He takes the fight to Wakatakakage and leaves him off balance at the initial merge. At no point does he allow Wakatakakage to regain any kind of foot placement, useful body position or execute any strong sumo. With the Ozeki hopeful boxed up and contained, he drives forward and Wakatakakage is unable to stop him. Nice work, Kotonowaka 1-0.

Mitakeumi defeats Midorifuji – This is the kind of sumo I want to see from Mitakeumi. A lot of power, relentless drive forward, and not giving Midorifuji a single moment when he is not off balance and struggling to stay in the match. Mitakeumi 1-0.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Oddly enough, Shodai won his first match and looked like “good” Shodai int he process. We did not get to see the “Wall of Daikon”, but Shodai made sure that Tobizaru’s only attempt at offense did not take him off his feet. Points to Tobizaru for improvising that last-ditch counter attack. Shodai 1-0.

Ichinojo defeats Takakeisho – Friggen Snorlax gets his yusho picture hung from the rafters, and dispatches an Ozeki. What a day! I am somewhat concerned that Takakeisho’s opening volley really seemed to lack any strength, and he quickly tried to switch gears while Ichinojo was running him down. Better luck tomorrow, tadpole! Ichinojo 1-0.

Terunofuji defeats Kiribayama – I know this is going to seem so very odd, but I find Terunofuji’s patient Yokozuna sumo kind of calming. I give a lot of credit to Kiribayama for bringing a vigorous attack to Terunofuji, but at least for now he’s looking healthy enough to do the sumo he wants to do. Terunofuji 1-0.

11 thoughts on “Aki Day 1 Highlights

  1. Hi there! Curious what you mean by “witty sumo” by Kotonowaka, it’s such an interesting choice of words.

    I loved Wakamotoharu pulling that off, also Terutsuyoshi (I call him salt punk, he’s such a scrapper), and impressive effort by Kiribayama.

    Losing by hair touch-down seems so hard, there are no muscles in one’s hair that one could use to avoid the result. Does it make a difference how experienced your stylist is? Is there a way of doing the chonmage that makes the hair more resistant to gravity, more shellacked in place?

      • Yeah, could be, but even if it hadn’t, he would have lost because of his hair – it’s happened before.

    • Well, you can’t really controll your hair themselves, but you can controll your head and should prevent it to get in a position where your hair can touch the ground. That’s my reasoning at least.

    • Witty sumo – Kotonowaka seems to come in to a match with a fresh take on how to overcome his opponents “brand of sumo”. Today’s match against Wakatakakage is a fine example. Normally you would look at their body position at the tachiai, and think, “Hey, Wakatakakage is low, he’s got a right hand inside, this guy is in charge!”. In fact, Wakatakakage’s feet are almost aligned, and although Kotonowaka is higher, he has a superior lower body position, and has control over Wakatakakage’s upper body. Wakatakakage’s second step loses traction on the clay, and Kotonowaka reacts instantly, pulling him down just a bit to rob him of any balance mid-step. At that moment, Wakatakakage was frozen in a no-offense, no-defense body position. Brilliant and subtle move, and it was the end of the match.

      Not sure if he is a smart man, or just has amazing instincts, but that was fast work and an outstanding way to exploit a small mistake.

  2. Good to see Chiyotairyu has the sideburns back.

    Shodai looked warmed up at the start, fine sheen of sweat on him. If the story of Hakuho telling he needs to make sure to warm up is true, this showed the effect of that. Calm, strong sumo.

    In the preview, Bruce talked about Terutsuyoshi and I think the issue there may by physics more than anything. He still has good technique and quickness, you saw that today, but he’s small (I always find it hard to talk about a guy who’s 105kg as small) and he got bounced in his match. He gives away a minimum of 35kg every match, 50-60kb against the medium sized guys, and 75kg or more against the Tochinoshins. If he fought Ichinojo, he’d be facing a guy twice his weight. He is strong for his size but even with that a lot of guys are stronger.

  3. I love the speed on display in day one’s bouts. Two rikishi I don’t particularly care for showed this best: Terutsuyoshi and Shodai. Both used their quick feet to lead to wins. Takayasu, too, decided not to settle in for a leaning nap and instead gave Takarafuji the business. Ichinojo was awake and dangerous, too. Lots of positives from the opening slate of action. Let’s hope Covid doesn’t ruin this basho like it marred the last one.

  4. I was very concerned about Takakeisho, too. He’s not going to win bouts moving backwards. He didn’t even try any tsuppari. He just tried to pull and shift but Ichinojo stayed focused. If Takakeisho is going to win, he’s got to attack.

  5. I am curious to see if winning a Cup settles Ichonojo’s mind and just lets him compete. He’s finally met his potential, so that mental pressure is off of him now.

    Welcome back to the bigs, Ryuden. Oooof. Better luck next time.

    I hope we keep the level of spirited fighting that we had today for all 15 days. Great stuff!

  6. I think Takakeisho reversed gears so quickly because his first volley was met with an immovable object. When Taka slammed into Ichi and shoved, only thing that happened is Taka pushed himself backwards and Ichi went nowhere. I swear I can see Taka’s expression knowing he’s already in trouble as he’s not going to be able to move Ichi with his shoves, so he tries to plan B and Ichi is still Woke it seems and is having none of it.

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