Nagoya 2023: Shonichi Highlights

The late-breaking, soul-crushing news last night was that newly promoted Ozeki, Kirishima, had to withdraw due to back pain. The length of his absence is not clear at this point but if he misses eight bouts or more, he will be kadoban after this first tournament. I often see the kadoban as a privilege rather than as a black mark or scarlet letter. It’s earned by Ozeki as they’re able to rest (or underperform) for one tournament without threat of demotion.

Some chatter last night indicated this back injury was rather long-standing one for Kirishima which flared up, or was re-aggravated, in the last few days. It may be smart, then, to leverage this new privilege and heal up fully. As a fan, eagerly anticipating the reign of a new, durable Ozeki, such idealism has been quickly dashed and hopes for this tournament dim substantially. Terunofuji surely bears the weight of attendance and performance on his own brittle knees but this could be a great opportunity for the three Sekiwake to shine.

Highlights

Hakuoho defeated Aoiyama – Hakuoho started off a bit too early, so there was a matta. However, Hakuoho weathered Aoiyama’s tsuppari, maintained his balance as the Bulgarian tried to shove him down, and maintained his composure as it appeared Aoiyama tried to rip his face off at one point. Having endured enough of Aoiyama’s offense, Hakuoho grabbed at his belt and drove forward, dropping Aoiyama off the dohyo. Welcome to Makuuchi, big boy. Yorikiri.

Endo defeated Bushozan – Bushozan was terrified of Endo’s belt grip. Endo reached in with his right at the tachiai and Bushozan jumped back and batted Endo’s arm away. Endo chased and latched on with the left, and tugged Bushozan to the ground. Uwatedashinage.

Takarafuji defeated Ryuden – Takarafuji absorbed Ryuden’s charge, and then repeatedly shoved down until Ryuden collapsed in a heap underneath. Hatakikomi.

Shonannoumi defeated Daishoho – This bout was all about Shonannoumi’s patience and perseverance with his left ottsuke. He had a solid right hand inside grip and secure position near the bales. Daishoho wanted his own right hand inside grip but Shonannoumi held out with his left hand, denying Daishoho. After waiting, Daishoho surged to latch on but Shonannoumi drove forward, leveraging his advantage and drove Daishoho over the bales, oshidashi.

Gonoyama defeated Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho never mounted any offense as Gonoyama drove him backwards with powerful tsuppari, then locked in on the belt, briefly, before shoving him out over the edge. Oshidashi.

Chiyoshoma defeated Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho met Chiyoshoma but didn’t seem capable of advancing or bearing much weight on the left leg. It was just a matter of time, then, as Chiyoshoma steadily worked Tsurugisho back and out, over the bales. Straightforward yorikiri. This looks like it will be a long tournament for Tsurugisho.

Kotoeko defeated Myogiryu – Kotoeko was the aggressor in this bout with a strong right-hand grip inside, steadily pressing Myogiryu back as the pair circled the ring. He lifted Myogiryu as they approached the bales for a forceful yorikiri win.

Hokutofuji defeated Kinbozan – Kinbozan backed Hokutofuji to the bales with powerful tsuppari after the initial charge. At the bales, Hokutofuji resisted, forcing Kinbozan back. Hokutofuji then locked in with a strong right-hand grip and pulled Kinbozan forward while twisting to the left. Uwatedashinage

Nishikifuji defeated Takanosho – Nishikifuji met Takanosho with a “hit-and-shift” tachiai which seemed to catch Takanosho off balance. Takanosho never seemed stable as Nishikifuji Tsukiotoshi

Tamawashi defeated Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi pressed forward, trying to get a hold of Tamawashi’s mawashi. But Tamawashi pressed back with strong ottsuke from his left, engaged in Sadanoumi’s armpit, preventing Sadanoumi from getting that mawashi grip. He then shifted left while pulling Sadanoumi forward and Sadanoumi toppled forward. Tsukiotoshi.

Takayasu defeated Oho – Oho met Takayasu with powerful tsuppari but couldn’t drive forward before Takayasu locked on with a belt grip, his right over Oho’s left. Excellent technique from Takayasu prevented Oho from being able to secure a left hand grip. Takayasu pulled Oho forward with that right hand, uwatenage.

 Hokuseiho defeated Onosho – Dominant win from Hokuseiho. He stopped Onosho in his tracks, locked in with both hands on Onosho’s belt, right hand inside, long left arm over Onosho’s back, and drove straight forward. Onosho was trapped and helpless as he was ushered over the bales. Yorikiri.

Hiradoumi defeated Ura —  An over-eager Hiradoumi forced a matta. Ura’s ottsuke kept Hiradoumi from securing a belt grip but he couldn’t stop Hiradoumi’s momentum from forcing him back to the bales. As Ura bent back, hoping for some Matrix-like escape, Hiradoumi maintained the pressure and forced him to fall out on his butt. Oshitaoshi.

Meisei defeated Asanoyama – Powerful charge from Asanoyama nearly forced Meisei out. But Meisei was able to escape by shifting right at the bales. Asanoyama was in hot pursuit but as Meisei reached the opposite bales, he launched forward, driving Asanoyama to fall backwards. They call it abisetaoshi as Meisei launched forward with his full weight but it almost looked like Asanoyama’s left foot just slipped and he fell on his butt. This feels like an own goal on Asanoyama.

Sanyaku

Kotonowaka defeated Midorifuji – Kotonowaka kept Midorifuji in front of him and steadily shoved him backwards, and out over the edge. Tsukitaoshi.

Wakamotoharu defeated Mitakeumi – Ozeki candidate #1 appeared to be in trouble at the tachiai as Mitakeumi had the advantage forcing Waka back. But Mitakeumi’s right hand ottsuke failed to keep Wakamotoharu’s left hand from securing and belt grip. Once Waka locked on, he was able to drive up and forward into Mitakeumi. This first stopped his forward motion and then drove him back and out over the bales. Yoritaoshi

Daieisho defeated Shodai – Ozeki candidate #2 looked fierce as his combination of forceful tsuppari and nodowa were too much for the former Ozeki. Oshidashi.

Nishikigi forfeit win over Kirishima

Hoshoryu defeated Tobizaru – Ozeki candidate #3, what the hell was that tachiai? Go back and do it again. Both guys just hesitantly stood up. I expected a matta. Then Hoshoryu chased Tobizaru around the ring before Tobizaru spun himself too far and fell backwards while Hoshoryu stumbled forward. Somehow that is an Oshidashi win for Hoshoryu? It looked more like an episode of Tom and Jerry than a sumo bout. Replays show Hoshoryu touching the clay with his left hand well before Tobizaru fell. Controversy if it weren’t just crap sumo. Tobizaru didn’t deserve a win with that — but still.

Terunofuji defeated Abi – Abi tried to do his brand of sumo but Terunofuji drove forward from the shoulder of Abi’s extended right arm. Somehow this prevented Abi from recoiling and lobbing more volleys of tsuppari. Thus disarmed, Abi was forced backwards and out. Abi relies on that machine-gun, rapid tsuppari. This was a blueprint for how to defeat Abi-zumo. Actually pretty neat. Oshidashi.

10 thoughts on “Nagoya 2023: Shonichi Highlights

  1. Woohoo! Basho time again so two weeks of sumo and fantastic coverage from Tachiai. I should’ve taken more time off work as Nagoya + Wimbledon is a lot to follow, but this overlapping week of two of my favourite sports will be fun and I’ll probably be able to catch up on the basho during rain delays.

    Nagoya is my ‘anniversary basho’, having begun to follow sumo in July 2022!

    I’m worried about Nishikifuji’s ankle but really pleased he got this first day win.

    I also enjoyed learning a new kimarite thanks to Meisei (abisetaoshi) and was impressed by Wakamotoharu. Really wanted to see your takes on that weird match from Hoshoryu and Tobizaru!!!

    A matta in the first bout must be an omen of something. Day One without a single mono-ii is probably an omen of something else! And what about going kyujo on your first bout / basho as an Ozeki? There seemed to be an unusual amount of bloodied faces today, too!

        • They don’t test as far as I know, and there have definitely been rumors of steroid use by some well-known wrestlers. I don’t even know if it would be considered doping 🤷🏼‍♂️

          • Hmmm, its all relative to the sport, isnt it?. Something i was involved in many years ago, included standing very still and the ability to lower your heart rate. The doping documentation was…interesting…

  2. The NHK highlights commentary said Kirishima had a rib contusion, though other places online have said it’s a broken rib. Not something that he should be coming back from in the next two weeks, but pressure is doubtlessly high on the new Ozeki to at least make an appearance. Either way, though, I think Kirishima’s Ozeki career will be longer than his fellow Ozeki Takakeisho’s. Or at least he’ll hang onto the rank longer than the more hurt but longer-serving Takakeisho.

    As for today’s match, a lot of slow motion fighting, and slipping, Not a great start to the tournament, even without factoring in the absences. But the rookies seem ready for the big time, at least. Lots of rikishi carrying injuries into this basho, it would appear. Kotoeko had my favorite win of the day (great lift and fighting spirit), and Onosho was the most disappointing (took Hokuseiho’s crummy tachiai and let the giant capture him).

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention the absolute blown call of the Hoshoryu/Tobizaru match. The Mongolian’s hand clearly scraped the dirt during that flail-fest of both wrestlers trying to stay upright, long before Tobizaru hit the clay.

  3. I can’t believe that there wasn’t a monoii after the Hoshoryu bout. My initial reaction before any replay was „didn’t his hand touch ground there?“ and that was from almost the worst possible camera angle. How can a judge miss that right in front of his nose?
    I kinda hope for Hoshoryu to raise to Ozeki, but I still want him to earn it.

    And yeah … Asanoyama sure felt like an own goal. On the bright side I think all Shin–Makuuchi won and looked good.
    Also Wakamotoharu looked good despite the talk of him not being healthy.

    • I thought the Wakamotoharu win also was not very clear.
      But as Hoshoryu he‘s on an Ozeki run.
      Maybe they didn‘t want to compromise those on the first day already?

      • Yeah, the back of his foot touched the tawara before Mitakeumi went out. But, probably not the first one of those that’s been missed and perhaps it could have been considered shini-tai (although didn’t look like it to me). Hoshoryu’s was much more blatant. I’m not surprised the gyoji didn’t spot it – he almost had his back to them at the time. It was one of the shimpan, who apparently had his eyes painted on..

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