Act 1 comes to a close, and it’s clear that Tamawashi, Hokutofuji, and Oho are going to need to find tougher opponents. With Tamawashi just having faced Yokozuna Terunofuji, that’s a tough ask. All of them are perfect 5-0, and each of them had done an excellent job of dictating the form and cadence of their matches for the first 5 days. We are a couple of days away from a leaderboard (following day 7), but I think that Tamawashi is going to be the top contender in the middle weekend’s matches.
Elsewhere in the torikumi, everyone save poor Takarafuji now has at least one win. I almost wonder if Isegahama should not try to take the parking parts from Takarafuji and use them to repair Terunofuji. It might cost the Yokozuna any kind of neck he once had, but that’s a small price to pay for continued good sumo. I wonder of Dr Takasu can make that happen.
Mitoryu defeats Hiradoumi – These two had a tough time getting the tachiai lined up, and it got a bit stale. Once they did get underway, Hiradoumi smaller size was the key to this match. Mitoryu simply overpowered him, then rolled him to the clay. In the process he also scored a hit on gyoji Kimura Ginjiro, sending him off the dohyo. Sadly, no extra points awarded. Mitoryu improves to 2-3.
Atamifuji defeats Yutakayama – Juryo visitor Atamifuji underscores my impression that Yutakayama is not even close to 100% right now. Certainly the Isegahama disciple is strong, large and talented, but Yutakayama clearly could not withstand the forward power Atamifuji was producing. We may see him in the top division soon, as he is now 3-2.
Chiyoshoma defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho, with a stand-up tachiai. This was likely “just in case” there were two Chiyoshoma special surprise henka in a row. Tsurugisho had the advantage early, but let Chiyoshoma incrementally improve his position a bit at a time. Tsurugisho decided, it seems, to press forward into Chiyoshoma’s left hand under / right hand over stance. I think everyone but Tsurugisho knew what that meant, it’s uwatenage time. Chiyoshoma up to 4-1 now with an excellent display of patient sumo.
Oho defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi tries the same opening gambit again. Sorry little T, everyone is looking for that now, even Oho. That’s 5 wins to start Aki for Oho, and frankly I am both surprised and impressed. Prior to Aki, he had not shown himself to be a strong rikishi. But he has dispatched everyone for the first 5 days. 5-0 for Oho.
Okinoumi defeats Ryuden – Ryuden was early in the tachiai, and landed a left hand inside grip before Okinoumi could get set up. But his fortunate hand placement could not make up for his poor footwork and bad posture. Okinoumi blew through Ryuden’s initial position, and pressed him back and into a match finishing uwatenage. Okinoumi improves to 3-2, and Ryuden is still looking for his second win.
Kotoshoho defeats Ichiyamamoto – Kotoshoho finally gets his second win, hitting Ichiyamamoto early, getting his hands under his armpits and never stopping his forward drive. This took Ichiyamamoto back, never let him set his feet, and robbed him of any offense or defense. Excellent strategy for this opponent, and Kotoshoho moves to 2-3 as a result.
Nishikifuji defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu attempts a henka, and manages to get to the side of Nishikifuji. But from there things go weird in a hurry. Chiyotairyu attempts a neck pull down with his left hand, Nishikifuji keeps his feet, and Chiyotairyu lunges from the rear. Somehow, Nishikifuji keeps his wits and balance, pivots and tosses Chiyotairyu out. Ok… Not quite sure what to make of that, except good job Nishikifuji, and enjoy your 4-1 score to end act 1.
Myogiryu defeats Takanosho – I think my forecast of Takanosho being a one man wrecking crew in the bottom half of the banzuke is on life support. Most likely the injury that sent him kyujo in Nagoya is not resolved, and now he is struggling once more. He stalemated Myogiryu following the tachiai, but allowed Myogiryu to get behind him and push him out by okuridashi. Both end the day at 3-2.
Hokutofuji defeats Kotoeko – Hokutofuji continues his dominance of Kotoeko, now up to 6-0 against the Sadogatake man. Very smooth, controlled sumo from Hokutofuji. He was able to move his hands to the inside lane, and then a cascade of rapid thrusts center mass. The smaller Kotoeko could not endure the force, and was quickly out by oshidashi, with bleeding from his scalp as an unwanted bonus. Hokutofuji finishes act 1 at 5-0, his best start since Aki of 2018.
Aoiyama defeats Onosho – Yay, Aoiyama gets his first win. Boo, its at the expense of Onosho. Once again Aoiyama could not maintain forward pressure for more than a moment, but today he leveraged Onosho’s poor balance to employ a hatakikomi to win. Normally, not a fan of sumo in reverse gear, but for Aoiyama, any win now is going to be welcome. He improves to 4-1.
Endo defeats Tochinoshin – Endo got morozashi (both hands inside) early, kept his hips low and moved Tochinoshin back before the former Ozeki could set up any kind of offense. This as the right choice, as the moment Tochinoshin got a belt grip, it was his match to lose. Tochinoshin tried a rescue attempt at the tawara, but Endo finished him off with a diving close. Both end the day 2-3.
Sadanoumi defeats Takarafuji – Man, hapless Takarafuji is the last man in the top division without a win. He had another bad start to a basho in May, where he lost the first 8 matches before finishing 4-11. I certainly hope he’s not on another run like that. Takarafuji’s technique looks the same, but he is missing the power and stamina that are the backbone of his sumo. Sadanoumi improves to 3-2.
Takayasu defeats Wakamotoharu – Wakamotoharu gets his first loss of Aki at the hands of the well rested and quite genki Takayasu. Wakamotoharu absorbed the big forearm blast from Takayasu, but the former Ozeki kept switching modes of attack, preventing Wakamotoharu from establishing any kind of sumo. Takayasu eventually opened Wakamotoharu’s chaotic defense, applied maximum pressure center mass and sent the Onami brother out by oshidashi. Both end the day at 4-1.
Midorifuji defeats Nishikigi – I am actually rather impressed with Midorifuji’s strategy in this match. He knows that Nishikigi will drive relentlessly for the belt, and he makes it almost possible the entire time. The effect this has to to keep Nishikigi moving forward, but not quite in control. This chaotic energy and repeated attempts to land a hand hold power the katasukashi that wins the match for Midorifuji. Nicely done. Both end the day at 2-3.
Kiribayama defeats Ichinojo – With much respect to the beloved yusho winner from the sick-out basho that was Nagoya, you are facing a different level of genki in September. Folks are healthy, rested, there is air conditioning in the venue, completely different environment. As a result, Ichinojo is struggling. Fighting him is still like fighting a fully stocked refrigerator, but I am sure rikishi like Kiribayama found a junker car to pick up and carry to practice. Today, Ichinojo decides to battle hug Kiribayama and take a short name in the middle of the dohyo. There he stood, in all his Snorlax glory, fighting without moving. He awoke briefly when Kiribayama broke his hold, but Ichinojo shifted a bit, cuddled up and went right back into Snorlax mode. Try as he can, Kiribayama can’t quite seem to wake Ichinojo. It is said “The Snorlax is found sleeping in the most inconvenient of places”. The middle of a dohyo would certainly count. After two minutes, Kiribayama can’t rouse him, and just muscles him out. Kiribayama advances to 3-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Tobizaru – Maybe, just maybe, Wakatakakage is finally warmed up. The tachiai is clean and sharp, and the two lock up at the center of the dohyo. I think here may be residual Snorlax energy trapped in the clay now, as both men seem to settle into a long battle hug. Wakatakakage springs to action briefly, but can’t make headway, and they both return to their endurance test. Wakatakakage’s second burst of power works, dislodges Tobizaru’s defenses, and Wakatakakage moves him out to improve to 2-3 by yorikiri.
Hoshoryu defeats Daieisho – The final “mirror score” match finishes with a mirror score. Hoshoryu gets a big hit in the tachiai, and gets Daieisho off balance and moving backward. He keeps up the pressure, and within 5 steps Daieisho is out. Hoshoryu ends the day 4-1, Daieisho 1-4.
Takakeisho defeats Meisei – Hey, a bit of wave-action technique there. Thank you for that, Ozeki. It was good to see, even if it was quite attenuated from your earlier days. It took several volleys to get Meisei off balance and reacting, but Takakeisho kept up the pressure, and the slapped the disrupted Meisei to the clay. Takakeisho improves to 4-1.
Mitakeumi defeats Ura – Mitakeumi really needed this win. Because of the COVID kyujo, some fans may not recall that he is still kadoban for the second basho in a row (as that ever happened before?) Ura tried his hop and duck opening gambit, but Mitakeumi was prepared and just bowled him back and out without any hesitation. Glorious oshitaoshi.
Kotonowaka defeats Shodai – Well, not sure what to say here. Shodai had solid hand placement, his feet were ok, but he could not hold back Kotonowaka’s attack. Maybe a lower body problem? He’s 1-4 now, and looking pretty puny. Kotonowaka picks up his second win of Aki, and is now 2-3.
Tamawashi defeats Terunofuji – I hope and pray that Isegahama can convince Terunofuji to cop to the state of his knees and at least sit out the rest of this basho. Sure he still has a marginal 3-2 winning record, but he was absolutely smoked by Tamawashi today. At no point in that match was Terunofuji on offense, and I can only count a brief moment of defense. Tamawashi remains perfect at 5-0, and picks up another kinboshi (now 8).