Most of our readers know that through the years, the Aki basho has gotten a well earned reputation as the tournament where “anything can happen”. I love to cite Goeido’s 15-0 zensho as a prime example. I woke in the early hours of Tuesday to see this gem from Tachiai’s founder, Andy, on Twitter
Yep, that’s the guys at the top of the leader board. We can be certain this September is going to be a thrill a minute for the remaining 12 days of this basho.
Before the match break down, Let’s focus on Hokutofuji. All three Ozeki down to his brilliant sumo, and it would bring a smile to my face if he could pull off a run for the cup in 2023. But this will all get real in the middle weekend, and the final five days are where champions are made. It’s a long way from today, and there is a lot of sumo to enjoy from now to then.
Daishoho defeats Chiyoshoma – Daishoho gets his first win of Aki, and I like how he had zero commitment to his tachiai, likely hedging against any Chiyoshoma mischief. Chiyoshoma got a left hand outside belt grip amidships early, and nearly brought Daishoho down. Daishoho took his time, broke Chiyoshoma’s grip, and worked his opponent off of his feet, pushing forward for a yorikiri. Both end the day 1-2.
Tsurugisho defeats Aoiyama – No, Big Dan is not looking good at all. I keep reminding myself of his cold start in Nagoya, but one of these times, he won’t bounce back, and it will be the beginning of a long trip to the barber for Aoiyama. But hey, over 370 kg in action on the dohyo here! But when Aoiyama goes chest to chest with a fellow mega-fauna rikishi, you know he’s about out of mojo. Tsurugisho yorikiri’d him without too much fuss, improving to 2-1.
Nishikifuji defeats Kagayaki – Now this is what I was looking for! Thank you Nishikifuji for that katasukashi. Sure it was a bit rough, but the win still counts. Not sure what Kagayaki had in mind, but I am certain it was not that. Nishikifuji is now 2-1.
Atamifuji defeats Myogiryu – Looks like we can sort Atamifuji into the “hot” category this September. That arm bar hold on Myogiryu held strong even when Myogiryu went for a throw. Atamifuji stayed upright and countered with a kotenage to remain perfect at 3-0.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoshoho – Hey, it’s called “Wacky Aki” for a reason. Next we have 36 year old ball of gristle and spare parts from a Suzuki micro-truck going 3-0 at the start as well. Kotoshoho got one solid hit to Sadanoumi’s face in, and Sadanoumi had enough of that noise, shoving Kotoshoho with an unlikely amount of vigor.
Mitakeumi defeats Hokuseiho – What? really? Mitakeumi is also in the 3-0 club? Call up Mitsuwa and beg them to stock some of the really big bottles of sake, it’s going to be a long 2 weeks. I am guessing Hokuseiho’s mind was on the wild night he had with his current beau, the Tokyo Skytree, and by the time he realized he was fighting a tadpole, it was oshidashi time.
Takarafuji defeats Endo – I thought Endo did a great job of working his hands inside. Sadly a bit of slippiotoshi was in the air, and he skidded to the clay under attack pressure from Takarafuji. Ok, Takarafuji now 2-1.
Kinbozan defeats Hiradoumi – I am not going to lump Kinbozan’s 3-0 score into the “wacky” category, as he’s a sumo battle bot, and his job is to toss people off the dohyo. But that was an impressive counter to Hiradoumi’s frontal mawashi grip. One step back and it was kubinage time as Hiradoumi took a tumble into the salt basket.
Midorifuji defeats Kotoeko – Two Isegahama men win with katasukashi on a single day? This is good day indeed. I think Kotoeko got too focused on face / neck attacks and did not keep his feet in sync with his upper body. Midorifuji played it very well indeed, feeding the imbalance to Kotoeko a piece at a time until he was ready for the throw. Midorifuji’s first win of the basho, and both end the day at 1-2.
Ryuden defeats Oho – Both were winless to start the day, and I am sort of surprised it was Ryuden who came out with his first white star from this match. Oho opened strong, and had a deep left hand inside mawashi grip. But Oho did not defend is left at all, and Ryuden reached in with his right and caught a handful of silk. From there it was three steps to the tawara, but Oho collapsed before they got there. It was scored as a yoritaoshi, and Ryuden improves to 1-2.
Onosho defeats Takayasu – One of these guys was going to pick up their first loss today, and I was fairly sure it was going to be Onosho. But the Great Sumo Cat of the Kokugikan was playful this afternoon. Takayasu opened with a big power combo to Onosho’s face, putting Onosho’s feet back to the bales. Takayasu’s left hand ottsuke shut down any chance of a counter attack, and I thought “here we go, Pappayasu to 3-0”. But for some reason, Takayasu decided to try a hatakikomi, and released his hold on Onosho. Big mistake, and we got to see a tadpole surge as he drove Takayasu from the ring by okuridashi. Onosho joins the unlikely clan at 3-0.
Shonannoumi defeats Ura – Ura qualifies for the first official Tachiai “What the hell was that?” verdict of Aki 2023. He executed his dip and dive battle-crab tachiai, and Shonannoumi yeeted him back and over the edge like a time worn Alaskan deck hand. Shonannoumi improves to 2-1.
Gonoyama defeats Takanosho – Wow, had a flash back watching this match. That lightning fast tachiai to oshidashi was pure Goeido (his good mode), and frankly I loved it. Takanosho did not have a chance. Gonoyama now 2-1.
Nishikigi defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama had not fought Nishikigi in 4 years. In those days he was a happy go lucky little butter ball, and provided little contest to an ascendant Asanoyama on his way to becoming Ozeki. Today, Nishikigi immediately took control of the match, getting a deep right hand inside, and leaving Asanoyama grasping nothing but a crummy set of segari. Asanoyama went for his favorite stance, but the Nishikigi battle-hug was too potent. Asanoyama knew he was caught, and put his hopes on a grip change. But the release of his hold simply triggered Nishikigi’s uwatenage. Most impressive sumo from Nishikigi today, he improves to 2-1.
Wakamotoharu defeats Shodai – Wakamotoharu completely disrupted whatever Shodai had in mind, and frankly he looked a complete mess. Wakamotoharu picks up his first win to advance to 1-2 while Shodai remains winless at 0-3.
Abi defeats Daieisho – We expected a big thrusting / power forward battle. The question was who was going to connect with energy first. Abi got a big hit to the neck, followed by a big push center mass, and it was time for Daieisho to go visit the shimpan in the front row. Abi improves to 2-1.
Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Like with Aoiyama, it’s a bit sad to see Tamawashi struggling each day on the dohyo. The guy has been a force of sumo for the longest time, but he’s clearly less capable today than he should be to hold a rank in the joi-jin. Tamawashi gets a couple of good hits in, but when he misses his third combo, it leaves him off balance and open to Kotonowaka’s counter attack, that runs him out for a yorikiri. Kotonowaka now 2-1.
Takakeisho defeats Meisei – A sloppy win for Takakeisho, but when you are kadoban and looking for 8, you take them any way the come. I do like that it came as Takakeisho was trying to deflect Meisei from getting any kind of grip. It was scored as a tsukiotoshi, and who am I to argue with that. Takakeisho now 2-1.
Hokutofuji defeats Kirishima – Hokutofuji completes his limited edition Aki 2023 Ozeki scalp collection in fine style. Readers know I marvel at Hokutofuji’s lower body’s ability to work almost independently of his upper frame. It was on display again today has for a moment Hokutofuji stumbled toward the salt basket with Kirishima in hot pursuit, but his incredible lower body kept him in the ring and upright. When they re-engaged, Hokutofuji landed a right hand mawashi grip, and had a left hand center mass, and it was all Issac Newton from there. Hokutofuji 3-0, and the highest ranking man with a perfect score.
Tobizaru defeats Hoshoryu – One the reasons I love Tobizaru is that on any given day, he can beat whomever he is matched against. So fast, so clever and so strong. Kind of like a younger, less bloodied Yoshikaze. One quick tug on Hoshoryu sends him off balance, and Tobizaru is behind him in an instant. How can he move like that? Don’t know… But sumo’s flying monkey delivers so much thrust against Hoshoryu’s back side that it sends him airborne, and puts Hoshoryu in the 3rd row. A glorious okuridashi, and Tobizaru advances to 2-1.