Osaka Day 2 Highlights

I think it was not my imagination after all, the crowd in Osaka seem to have decided that they are tried of the eternal mask mandate, and they are going to go to sumo, drink some beer and shout like the fans they knew they were back in 2019. Bless them all. On the dohyo, it was oshidashi day, with no fewer than 7 of them recorded in the top division during the matches.

Hokuseiho continues to impress, not just with his enormity, but that he is so patient in his sumo, and does not seem to really have much concern when an opponent gains advantage. Given the results, I think it’s safe to say that Hakuho and his team are excellent coaches and judges of raw sumo talent in young men. They can complain all they want, but the man continues to be a rank beyond any of them it seems, and perhaps a bit of jealousy might be in order, after all. For the fans it means a couple of decades of dominant, high skill, high talent rikishi competing on the dohyo, and I am grateful.

Highlight Matches

Chiyoshoma defeats Mitoryu – Chiyoshoma picks up his first win, and I like how he focused on preventing Mitoryu from getting any kind of working grip. I think Mitoryu got frustrated for a moment, and that’s the moment Chiyoshoma converted his left hand ottsuke into a body hold and the yorikiri was served. Chiyoshoma now 1-1.

Tsurugisho defeats Tohakuryu – Juryo visitor Tohakuryu picks up his first lost of Haru in this slap fest. He traded blows to the upper body with Tsurugisho, but it was largely blunted by Tsurugisho’s ponderous bulk. Tsurugisho broke Tohakuryu’s stance, and finished him with a shove into Oho’s lap. The gumbai went to Tohakuryu, but a monoii reversed it. Tsurugisho with a good start to Haru at 2-0.

Kinbozan defeats Oho – Excellent focus on center-mass from Kinbozan, showing a flagging Oho how it’s done. I love the amount of power he was delivering to Oho’s chest, and the way he completely bypassed Oho’s attempt to draw him into a slapping contest. Go sort yourself out, Oho. Kinbozan starts Osaka 2-0.

Hokuseiho defeats Bushozan – Bushozann has fought Hokuseiho multiple times before, so he knows what’s coming. I applaud him for the amount of power and energy he put into his tachiai and his opening combo. But of course when you are fighting someone the size of Hokuseiho, you may not event register as a threat. But Hokuseiho quite calmly gets a right hand hold, takes his time and passivates Bushozan, the discards him like it’s trash day in Sumida-ku. Hokuseiho 2-0.

Kotoeko defeats Kagayaki – Great, fantastic match from these two. They played well to their own “brand of sumo”, too. Kagayaki worked well to keep it a thrusting match, and Kotoeko almost followed suit. But, you can see the moment when he realized he has the inside lane open, and he attacks center mass. Kagayaki defended his attempt to grapple well, and the two battled for control. Kotoeko came out in charge, and quickly applied a yorikiri for a win. He picks up his first win of Osaka and is 1-1.

Daishoho defeats Takarafuji – Daishoho employed a simple and effective oshi-zumo approach to the match today. I saw Takarafuji defending well in his normal style, but yet again he lacked the ability to hold ground when he needed to. Of course this makes me worry that a favorite has picked up an injury that heralds the end of his career on the dohyo, but that was a question of “when” not “if”. Daishoho with a perfect start at 2-0.

Takanosho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu effectively stalemates Takanosho’s opening combo, and then blunts him time and again. He does not really generate much offense, but seems to leave Takanosho an opening to attack. Takanosho eventually finds his target, and takes the match by oshidashi, sending him to 2-0.

Nishikifuji defeats Azumaryu – I am starting to worry that Azumaryu won’t be able to hold rank or stay in the top division. Nishikifuji expertly got inside and underneath, and relentlessly applied the pressure. An attempt by Azumaryu to shove Nishikifuji to the side failed, and set up the oshidashi. Nishikifuji now 2-0.

Hiradoumi defeats Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto put a lot into this match, and nearly won it at least twice. But he could not maintain his unbalanced normal stance, and found himself struggling to remain upright more than once. Hiradoumi managed to capitalize on one of these off balance moments, and finished Ichiyamamoto off with an oshidashi, to pick up his first win of Haru, improving to 1-1.

Ura defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama was expecting sorcery at the tachiai, and simply stood up in place. I think Ura was looking for him to do just that, and quickly got inside of Aoiyama’s cautious initial probing hits. Big mistake for Aoiyama, as Ura came to fight and win today, and his first volley landed with force, breaking Big Dan’s stance. From there it was all Ura, and we had yet another oshidashi win, sending Ura to 2-0.

Takayasu defeats Endo – Takayasu should feel embarrassed that he broke with tradition and did not win with an oshidashi. Maybe it was not his fault, as I think Endo lost traction and mostly fell. Either way, Takayasu is now 2-0, and still looking strong.

Sadanoumi defeats Hokutofuji – Now that Takayasu broke the rules, everyone seems like they are ready to be individuals. Sadanoumi gets the jump on a surprisingly passive Hokutofuji, and finishes him with a yorikiri, picking up his first win of Haru to go 1-1.

Midorifuji defeats Onosho – I wonder why Onosho was not guarding against that henka a bit more. Maybe he expected that it was time for another oshidashi? Either way, slippery move from Midorifuji, but it was good enough to send him to 2-0.

Meisei defeats Kotoshoho – This match was close to earning a “What the hell was that?” tag, as Kotoshoho looked like he expected something closer to a tennis match today. A monoii was called, possibly to discuss if that was sumo or kabuki, but the replay booth confirmed this was indeed sumo, and thus Meisei got the win, and is 1-1.

Wakamotoharu defeats Nishikigi – We knew this was going to be a fierce yotsu-zumo battle, and I love how Nishikigi locked in straight away, and kept Wakamotoharu away from his belt. Wakamotoharu pushed in several times before he got a left hand on Nishikigi’s belt, but found it loose enough to provide little leverage. Undeterred, he went to work and took Nishikigi apart a piece at a time. Brilliant sumo from Wakamotoharu, he finished Nishikigi with a yorikiri to advance to 2-0.

Tobizaru defeats Mitakeumi – I continue to wonder what is going on with Mitakeumi’s body. For a time he was nearly upright as Tobizaru was dialing up the forward pressure. As it was working, Tobizaru kept lifting and stepping a bit forward at a time. At this point Mitakeumi was little more than ballast, and Tobizaru put him over the bales with a final shove, improving to 2-0.

Kotonowaka defeats Ryuden – Fights like this nudge me in the direction of thinking that one day Kotonowaka might be a big deal. He sold that katasukashi with smooth grace that made it look ordinary. That’s two wins for him and he is 2-0.

Daieisho defeats Wakatakakage – Is this a traditional Wakatakakage cold start, or some harbinger of a Wakatakapocolypse? Daieisho gets a piece of Wakatakakage’s face on the opening salvo, and just runs him out to win by oshidashi (glad to see someone wants to embrace traditions!) to improve to 2-0.

Shodai defeats Kiribayama – Oh Lordy yes! Second day in a row we get the “Wall of Daikon”! Kiribayama put in a solid match, and had Shodai in trouble after a somewhat tepid open from the former Ozeki. But then he got a battle hug on Kiribayama, and suddenly his wide fleshy body became a unstoppable force of nature, and he bruted Kribayama off the east side of the dohyo. Thanks for that, Shodai, good to see you in fighting form again after all that time. He’s now 2-0.

Abi defeats Hoshoryu – Well, that was odd. Hoshoryu launched Abi out of the ring with a hearty shove, and ended up face down on the clay. The gumbai went to Abi, a monoii ensued, and once again “Where to get beers after the match day is over” was the heated debate. The crew on the dohyo waited for the call from the replay room, who called out “Yoneya”. The shimpan also decided that Hoshoryu’s hand was in the janome while Abi was still airborne, and the match was awarded, with Abi improving to 1-1.

Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi could not quite connect on his opening barrage, but Takakeisho did. He was able to move Tamawashi back, and put him out of the ring in short order. As was fitting, the Ozeki upheld the tradition, and the match day finished with a 7th oshidashi, to bring Takakeisho to 1-1.

7 thoughts on “Osaka Day 2 Highlights

  1. Came to win: Shodai, Takayasu, Wakamotoharu

    Showed up hurt: Mitakeumi, Hokutofuji, Hoshoryu

    Is now fighting hurt: Meisei, Takarafuji, Aoiyama (?)

    Onosho was done dirty. Midorifuji, why are you doing that on day 2?

    Daiesho looked much more Ozeki material than Wakatakakage today.

    All told, this is an even more wide-open tournament than usual, and that’s saying something. Is it finally time for Takayasu to take his first cup, or Shodai to redeem himself?

  2. It’s going to be interesting to see how long the older wrestlers in the top divisions (e.g. Migoriyu, Takarafuji, Tsurugisho, Tochinoshin, etc.) will stick around. There is a boatload of new talent arriving (if you haven’t watched any Juryo or Makushita bouts you really should) and the only thing that’s slowing it down is the standard number of promotion spots. The only rikishi who continues to defy time is Tamawashi.

    Midorifuji was pretty meek after his bout. “Sorry about the henka, Y’all. I won’t make it a habit. Promise.”

    Based on dohyo performance the current leader for the cup is…Shodai? Oh my. It’ll be fun when he runs into Hokuseiho.

  3. About the mask wearing – today marked the end of mandatory mask wearing in Japan, but shops, transportation, venue operators and so on can still make their own rules. Generally it seems that in most places masks are being recommended but not mandated.

  4. I was completely puzzlws by the Kotoshoho fight. First that there was a mono-ii, cause sleepy me didn’t catch anything and was more worried for the hard fall of both rikishi and second time when the replay clearly showd to mee that Meisei stepped out first, while Kotoshoho was still clinging to the tawara with one feet, but they confirm a Meisei win.

    Shodai is looking like a beast out of nowhere. Whom is he possessed by? Still Kiribayama is looking good. Takayasu is also looking genki. Not looking good is Mitakeumi. Oho and Wakatakakage still sleep walk when they enter the dohyo. Wakakatakakage is likely to wake up at some point … Oho … not so sure.
    Can Kotonowaka and Wakamotoharu stay hot? The older Waka already looked better the last two basho. Maybe not as explosive as his younger brother, but much moresolid. A lot of younger Wakas bouts are dances on a knives edge.
    I will wait till Nakabi to say anything about Daieisho, but so far so good ;)

  5. Wakatakapocolypse is brilliant and my new favorite sumo term. Try saying it 3 times in a row really fast.
    Thanks for your commentary. I always enjoy it.


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