A satisfying first day of sumo in Osaka. I really have to compliment Shodai on showing up and executing sumo in the style of his former Ozeki days, it’s great to see it once more. Other highlights were Oho battling an apartment block, Kinbozan making it look easy, and Ura with another of his peerless escapes.
I note with some interest a growing number of spectators setting aside the wearing of masks. Given how wearing masks in Japan is endemic and expected, I can’t help but wonder if Osaka is about to the point where people have decided that 3 years into this mess, they have run out of patience. I do enjoy the enthusiasm from the crowd, and hope that we get a rowdy bunch for the next 14 days.
Asanoyama defeats Mitoryu – Welcome back, Asanoyama. Immediate right hand inside against Mitoryu, leaving Mitoryu without any real options. Asanoyama walked him back and patiently waited for him to step out, improving to 1-0. Fingers crossed that Asanoyama can do well this March.
Tsurugisho defeats Chiyoshoma – I love that Tsurugisho deflected or side stepped a good portion of Chiyoshoma’s tachiai. Tsurugisho set up a left hand outside hold, and the two battled for hand placement. Tsurugisho’s left hand outside led to his right hand inside, and he quickly set up the throw that put Chiyoshoma on the clay. Tsurugisho starts 1-0.
Hokuseiho defeats Oho – Oho is not used to fighting city buses, or garden sheds. Left with a puzzle, Oho tries a nodowa, but it’s almost a bit comical how high he has to reach. Hokuseiho seems to take it all in stride, as you would expect with any civil engineering project, and calmly overwhelms Oho with sheer brute force. I expect the city zoning board will weigh in at some point, but for now Hokuseiho is at 1-0.
Kinbozan defeats Bushozan – If. you thought Hokuseiho was impressive, Kinbozan’s casual dismissal of Bushozan from the ring was stunning. Not that Bushozan is a pushover, but Kinbozan totally dominated that match. He starts Haru 1-0.
Daishoho defeats Kotoeko – Daishoho demonstrated outstanding knowledge of Newtonian principles by playing the “enormous” card early and well. He completely out-bulks Kotoeko, and never lets the Kotoeko get any sort of foot placement or hold. Daishoho 1-0.
Takarafuji defeats Kagayaki – Takarafuji looked quite rough today, but the elements of “Defend and extend” held true, and carried the match. Kagayaki chose slow but powerful as his approach today, and on the surface was connecting well. But Takarafuji has enough of his old sumo back that he was able to ensure that Kagayaki could not square his hips to his opponent, and never could connect at full power. Takarafuji starts Osaka with a win at 1-0.
Takanosho defeats Azumaryu – A quite even start to the match, it went Takanosho’s way when Azumaryu tried to pull, and handed offensive control to Takanosho. I was happy to see Takanosho able to stay low, stay in contact, and show the kind of forward pressure he’s not been able to use for several months. Fingers crossed, Takanosho now 1-0.
Nishikifuji defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu was quite effective at stalemating Nishikifuji’s offense. From the tachiai, it was clear that neither man could overpower the other, and it was down to who could keep their hips lower. I am a bit concerned by that heavy brace on Nishikifuji’s left elbow, as those kinds of injuries tend to sap fighting power as the 2 weeks of the basho progress.
Aoiyama defeats Hiradoumi – Aoiyama gets a couple of good hits in before Hiradoumi decides to try to go chest to chest with Aoiyama. Hiradoumi gets a nice shallow left grip, but soon finds his right has been captured by Aoiyama, and receives a kotenage shortly afterwards. Aoiyama starts 1-0.
Ura defeats Ichiyamamoto – Just about the time I think that Ura might be tapped out, he delivers a performance such as today. Ichiyamamoto employs “his brand of sumo” as best he can, delivering volley after volley of double arm attacks to Ura’s upper body. But he let his success blind him to the danger as he lunged forward to finish Ura off. Never one to lose a match easily, Ura delivers a scarcely believable pivot and levitate on top of the bales, ensuring that Ichiyamamoto touches clay first. Ura opens with a win in front of the home town crowd and is 1-0.
Takayasu defeats Hokutofuji – Takayasu wins this one with sheer power. I did not see Hokutofuji’s legendary lower body agility at work today, so I am going to chalk this one up to ring rust on his part. Takayasu 1-0.
Endo defeats Sadanoumi – I am really impressed by how low both of these rikishi stayed the entire fight. Endo was, at first, unable to find any working advantage, and had to settle for a stalemate. Frustrated that his offense was ineffective, it looked like Sadanoumi worked to set up a throw, but his pivot move was clumsy, and Endo broke his balance, and ran him out of the ring. Endo starts 1-0.
Midorifuji defeats Kotoshoho – Midorifuji got underneath and stayed there. This match was won at the tachiai, as Midorifuji was able to capture Kotoshoho, and not let him adjust into a working defensive posture. Well played, Midorifuji. Your reward? 1-0.
Onosho defeats Meisei – I am not sure what Meisei had planned, but it could not have been what actually happened. Onosho made contact sharply, and never let Meisei even get his balance. Quick and brutal, Onosho starts 1-0.
Daieisho defeats Nishikigi – Daieisho exactly as he needed to, and was able to merge his tsuppari attack with blocks of Nishikigi’s attempt to reach for Daieisho’s belt. The result was no offense and no real defense from Nishikigi, and Daieisho put him out smartly, starting 1-0.
Kotonowaka defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi’s mechanics looked good, but there was just now forward pressure and no real power in his sumo. This is the same arrangement that lost him his Ozeki slot, and it’s got to be some kind of injury, like a hernia, in my book. Kotonowaka rallies after the tachiai, and walks Mitakeumi out for a yorikiri win, and a 1-0.
Wakamotoharu defeats Ryuden – Simple but impressive win by Wakamotoharu. He was denied any real grip, but used hand placement and his upper body to contain and move Ryuden with great effect. That man has a lot of potential in his sumo. He is at 1-0 after day one.
Kiribayama defeats Abi – At this stage, the upper ranks all have faced Abi enough that they have a fair chance of shutting down his only real attack program. So as Abi flails away without any visible effect, Kiribayama bundles him up and shoves him out of the ring. Kiribayama starts Haru 1-0.
Shodai defeats Hoshoryu – Wow, we got the “Wall of Daikon” on day one. Note Hoshoryu played it straight and hard, going for a left hand frontal grip at the tachiai, only to find this giant fleshy mass ramming him back on his heels. A deft hand to the face, and it was exit time for Hoshoryu, and we got a glimpse of Ozeki Shodai as a treat today, he’s 1-0.
Tamawashi defeats Wakatakakage – What the hell, Wakatakakage? You had Tamawashi off balance and in trouble with his back to you, and he was allowed to recover and beat you. I am not sure what happened to Wakatakakage’s yusho winning sumo, but it was back in Tokyo today. Excellent agility as always from Tamawashi, and he scores an opening day win to be 1-0.
Tobizaru defeats Takakeisho – Excellent lower body agility from Tobizaru today. He was able to sell that step to the side with great effect, and he caught Takakeisho at the moment he was delivering a forward push to move out of the way. Tobizaru finished him with a hand to the back, and it was “Ozeki down!” to end the day. Tobizaru 1-0.