This seems to have been the basho I have been waiting for since 2019. The only thing missing now is a packed stadium full of howling fans. The public is starting to get back in the swing of things. I see plenty of spectators with their face masks on their chins, I am sure that some are quite uncomfortable with that.
But the action is crisp, sharp and oh so enjoyable. Today we had a rare kimarite from Ura, some absolutely punishing sumo from Hokutofuji and Takakeisho, and many of the winless rikishi pick up their first white star. On to the action!
Azumaryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi’s well worn opening gambit of going low and trying to grab a leg is now well anticipated by just about everyone. Sadly it may be all he has right now. Azumaryu folds him Terutsuyoshi up and drives him to the ground with a rapid uwatenage, improving to 2-2.
Chiyoshoma defeats Hiradoumi – You know, when it only happens once in a while, a rousing Chiyoshoma henka is like a fresh cool breeze on a hot afternoon. That one was well time and delivered with some flair. I give him a big thumbs up. Both end the day a 3-1. Keep your eye on the other man, Hiradoumi!
Yutakayama defeats Mitoryu – Yutakayama wins his first match of the basho by focusing his power center-mass against Mitoryu. He did a fine job of establishing the attack early, and now allowing Mitoryu any route to recover. He kept the pressure up, and persisted when Mitoryu attempt to break contact. Both end the day 1-3.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho had a balanced fight that he could have won for a time. But for whatever reason he decided that Ichiyamamoto was too low, and he needed to try and pull him down. Well, this was a giant mistake as Ichiyamamoto had ample room to convert that to forward power and run Tsurugisho out. Poor form sir. Ichiyamamoto improves to 3-1.
Oho defeats Okinoumi – Readers of the site have commented that they are not sure what Oho’s “Style of sumo” is. Fair enough, that caused me to reflect on it too, and maybe just now we are starting to see what it is. Today he hit hard at the tachiai, got immediate hazu-oshi and powered forward. That was almost textbook denshamichi-sumo, and I was happy to see it. That’s a 4-0 start for Oho, and whatever his style of sumo is, it’s working right now.
Kotoshoho defeats Ryuden – Kotoshoho picks up his first win of the basho through grim determination. He was hoping to overpower Ryuden by the second step, but Ryuden was ready and captured Kotonowaka at the center of the dohyo. Ryuden was trying to get an advantage, but Kotoshoho held on, found his moment and moved forward to win. Both end the day at 1-3.
Nishikifuji defeats Takanosho – Wow, did not see this coming. Takanosho takes his first loss at the hands of Nishikifuji, as Nishikifuji gets him off balance, keeps him off balance and goes for a measure of “wild man sumo”. For some reason, Takanosho decides he can out wild man Nishikifuji, and it ends poorly. This is the kind of result when a strong, experienced rikishi lets his opponent dictate the terms of the match. Nishikifuji takes a big win with an inspired sukuinage at the bales, and both are 3-1 at the end of the day.
Kotoeko defeats Chiyotairyu – Kotoeko finally gets his first win by using Chiyotairyu’s massive launch momentum against him. With Chiyotairyu hurtling forward like a run away locomotive, Kotoeko bends his path around, using the torque generated to twirl him to the clay. Nice move, and it’s 1-3 scores for both of them.
Hokutofuji defeats Tochinoshin – Excellent battle plan from Hokutofuji. He seems to have wisely plotted that he had a short window to get Tochinoshin bagged and tagged before the former Ozeki could get a left hand “death grip” set up. So Hokutofuji got the nodowa, got the left hand center mass, and pushed for all he was worth.It worked as it needed to, and Hokutofuji is unbeaten at 4-0.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Looks like maybe Onosho has been able to rid himself of crippling ring rust, and has his balance under control. A swift pivot following the tachiai put Myogiryu on the clay, and both of them with a 2-2 score to end day 4.
Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – We finally got a strong opening from Endo this month. Note his excellent body position one the second step, with both hands center mass. He catches Wakamotoharu with his feet aligned, and standing tall. But for some reason Endo lets Wakamotoharu have a moment of grab and tug. This puts Endo off his game, and gives the advantage to Wakamotoharu, who wastes no time pushing Endo over the bales. Now 4-0 for Wakamotoharu, in the elite unbeaten club.
Sadanoumi defeats Aoiyama – Once again we see Aoiyama back up at the first sign of significant forward pressure from his opponent. This furthers my suspicion that he has undercarriage problems and will struggle this basho. Shame too, as he normally does quite well in September. Sadanoumi advances to 2-2.
Takayasu defeats Nishikigi – Points to Nishikigi, he stepped up and gave it a solid effort. To me it was clear that Nishikigi’s somewhat predictable sumo was easy to counter for a well rested Takayasu, and he spent the few brief moments that this match lasted lining up his throw for maximum effect. Takayasu up to 3-1 now.
Ura defeats Takarafuji – Oh there are days when Ura is just the crown jewel of sumo, and we got that on day 4. Super rare tsutaezori – a under arm forward body drop. It’s sad that it happened to 0-4 Takarafuji, but at the same time at least one of his matches will be memorialized for a long time to come on the sumo highlight reels. Ura up to 3-1.
Ichinojo defeats Daieisho – Well, that was a bit silly. Tries his big thrusting attack against Ichinojo. A good guess, but that much force against a solid edifice of stone is just as effective as you might guess. Ichinojo grabs an arm, and guides Daieisho with surprising delicacy past himself and over the west side bales. I have seen similar exchanges with Boy Scouts helping little old ladies cross the street. Ichinojo improves to 2-2.
Hoshoryu defeats Kiribayama – Hoshoryu tries to go in for the kill early, and points awarded to Kiribayama for shutting that down. But at this point, Hoshoryu is convinced he has this match, and just completely brutes out and tosses Kiribayama about, dumping him over the bales. Hoshoryu improves to 3-1.
Wakatakakage defeats Midorifuji – Wakatakakage finally gets his first win of the basho, and hopefully whatever had him sleep walking through the first few days of the basho is behind him. I give a lot of credit to Midorifuji, for making him really work for it. Brutal stuff. You know what I think happened to Wakatakakage? The pre-tachiai head bobble is no more. That was the secret to his success. Both end the day 1-3.
Tobizaru defeats Mitakeumi – Don’t pull a Josh and underestimate Tobizaru. It almost looks like Mitakeumi decided “I am just going to be enormous and wear him down a bit”. Enormous – yes. But Tobizaru seems to have nearly unlimited energy. Mitakeumi changes plans and captures him in a battle-hug. But Tobizaru is latched on like a Rottweiler with a tennis ball. Moreover, he’s having just about as much fun. Mitakeumi realizes he’s boned just about the time Tobizaru walking the Ozeki cross the west side bales. Both end the day 2-2.
Tamawashi defeats Shodai – I told you Tamawashi was out of chewing gum. Unbeaten at 4-0.
Takakeisho defeats Kotonowaka – I am personally glad that Takakeisho scored another win. But we did not see any effective thrusting from him today. We don’t see much of it at all in recent bouts. I have to wonder if that is injury, or Takakeisho has just gotten so large the he can no longer deploy his primary attack processes. He sure beat the stuffing out of Kotonowaka. Mark my words, this will be paid back in full in the near future by Kotonowaka. Takakeisho up to 3-1.
Terunofuji defeats Meisei – Meisei, this is what you get for not reading the Terunofuji instruction sheet. See the front in big red letters where it says “Do not attempt morozashi”? Well, you just had to give it a try, I guess. Maybe you were the kind of boy who tried to pee on the electric fence to see what all the fuss was about. I note that Terunofuji did not look heavy on his feet, and was somewhat instead. I think he’s really at the limit of what those damaged knees can do, and may benefit from taking the next tournament off to recover. Terunofuji at 3-1.