Act 1 comes to a close, and the Ozeki corps re-asserts its dominance. Across today’s matches, power sumo was back in style with some brilliant forward power, yotsu-zumo and strong attacks today.
In act 1, the rikishi work to get into honbasho form, break off the ring rust, and find out who is hot, and who is not. It is interesting to me to note that of the 4 rikishi who were undefeated after day 4, all of them took their first loss on day 5: the best record on the board right now is the group of 8 at 4-1.
- Gonoyama – Shin-Goeido really setting the pace in the joi-jin
- Onosho – The littlest tadpole is in the midst of one of his winning streaks
- Kinbozan – Too early to call him the “Kazak Bulldozer”?
- Mitakeumi – If he takes the cup, it will hilarious
- Atamifuji – Second posting to the top division is working well for him, in spite of that arm
- Tsurugisho – I know it is said otherwise, but yes, size matters.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma makes good contact at the tachiai, and immediately works to try and pull Kagayaki down. Kagayaki is well balanced and responds with a hearty shove, sending Chiyoshoma out by oshidashi. Kagayaki now 3-2.
Tsurugisho defeats Atamifuji – Tsurugisho’s left hand outside belt grip at the tachiai payed off handsomely as it gave him control over Atamifuji’s body. I did like the amount of disruptive maneuvering Atamifuji tried in order to break that hold, but it was three steps to the bales and a yorikiri win for Tsurugisho. With Atamifuji picking up his first loss, both end the day 4-1.
Kotoshoho defeats Daishoho – A battle of the “Shoho” clan, it came down to clever footwork from Kotoshoho to side step a lunge by Daishoho trying to finish off with an oshidashi. Kotoshoho’s hikiotoshi connected a glancing blow, but it was enough to win the match, and both are 2-3.
Aoiyama defeats Nishikifuji – There is still hope for Big Dan, as he is able to score a win today. Granted, Nishikifuji has never been able to beat Aoiyama, but Aoiyama’s condition is still not good. This match is an exception to the overall power forward sumo theme, in that Aoiyama stepped back and slapped down Nishikifuji for his first win, improving to 1-4.
Takarafuji defeats Sadanoumi – Takarafuji’s ottsuke worked long enough to ensure that Sadnoumi’s hold was too late to matter. The left hand inside hold from Takarafuji had Sadanoumi out by yorikiri, and both ended the day 3-2.
Myogiryu defeats Hokuseiho – Hokuseiho, sir. That tachiai is straight out of Shodai’s sumo book. Please discard it at once. Points to Myogiryu for studying Hokuseiho’s sumo, and diving in with gusto. He left Hokuseiho without a working hold of any kind, then lifted and carried the giant out for a yorikiri, improving to 3-2.
Endo defeats Kinbozan – That’s two wins in a row for Endo. Not a streak by any means, but maybe some hope after a cold start to Aki. Fans of technical sumo take note – see how careful Endo is with maintaining a rather specific distance from Kinbozan. I thought it odd until I watched it a few times, but he’s taking away the bulk of Kinbozan’s attack options, and relegating him to reacting to whatever Endo decides to throw at him. Every once in a while, Endo can still deliver, he is now 2-3 as Kinbozan picks up his first loss.
Mitakeumi defeats Midorifuji – Man, look at Mitakeumi’s ottsuke! The only thing that is missing is Mitakeumi taunting “stop hitting yourself! stop hitting yourself!” as he thunders forward and drives Midorifuji from the ring. 4-1 and a share of the lead for the original tadpole.
Oho defeats Hiradoumi – Hiradoumi put so much effort and power into this match that its kind of a shame that he lost. But a bunch of that energy was not directed into Oho’s body, and was more or less wasted. In contrast, look at how quiet Oho’s core and legs are. If he can grow that, he’s going to be required assume higher ranks. Oho wins by oshidashi and is now 2-3.
Ryuden defeats Kotoeko – Excellent high power battle to get the inside thrusting lane open, but things go downhill for Kotoeko once he tries to execute a pull on Ryuden’s neck. To do that, he gives up his left arm ottsuke, and gives Ryduen a body hold. Faced with few options, he tries it again and Ryuden engages the oshidashi machine, sending Kotoeko into the same shimpan who has caught every last falling rikishi today. Ryuden now 2-3.
Takayasu defeats Shonannoumi – I had hoped that Takayasu would play this match with the focused and strong sumo rather than the wild man form he sometimes uses. Excellent, fast tachiai into a left hand inside grip – Takayasu was in control of the match. Shonannoumi tried some of the normal counter moves, and was able to break the grip, but that only set up Takayasu’s hatakikomi. He is now 4-1.
Gonoyama defeats Onosho – Shin-Goeido continues to demonstrate some of the better aspects of Goeido’s sumo. Onosho is very fast, he can attack with rapid speed and can react faster than most rikishi. But he’s no match for Gonoyama today. Go watch the combo where he breaks Onosho’s hold, lands two thrusts to center mass and sets his feet all within about 2 seconds. It’s more than Onosho can counter, and he’s over the bales to take his first loss. Both end the day 4-1.
Shodai defeats Ura – Ura powers up and slams into the creamy marshmallow mid section of Shodai, who looks on with all the passion of a rural farmer’s co-op. With Ura vigorously pushing forward, Shodai shoves him aside, maintaining the bored look on his face as Ura eats a face full of dirt. Both end the day 2-3.
Meisei defeats Hokutofuji – For the first three days, Hokutofuji seemed to be an unstoppable force of sumo. But he has now dropped the last two matches. Today he was not mindful of his center of balance, and reached too far forward to grab a retreating Meisei, who slammed him to the clay with a hatakikomi. Meisei improves to 2-3.
Takanosho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho puts big power forward at the tachiai, and for the opening salvo. It succeeds in pressing Takanosho back, but his feet are able to maintain position. As Takanosho catches Daieisho between thrusts, Daieisho steps back and attempts a pull. The resulting oshidashi was to be expected, as Takanosho picks up his second win. Both end the day 2-3.
Tobizaru defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka chose to use power and mass to try and overcome Tobizaru’s mobility advantage. Of course that did not work out at all. Tobizaru easily dodged Kotonowaka’s second forward surge, sending him out of the ring while Tobizaru goes into the crowd to mingle with his adoring fans. Both are now 3-2.
Wakamotoharu defeats Nishikigi – You just knew this was going to be a grand battle of yotsu zumo. Wakamotoharu got the better grip out of the tachiai, and Nishikigi found himself focused on trying to even up. Wakamotoharu recognized he only had a moment before Nishikigi might latch on, and powered forward through Nishikigi’s attempt to hold on at the tawara. Third win for Wakamotoharu, and both are 3-2.
Kirishima defeats Asanoyama – This match had everything. Another great yotsu match, with one of the former master practitioners in Asanoyama. Former? Yeah, his technique is not what it was 4 years ago, though it probably could be if he hones it back into shape. But it was not yotsu that won this long running battle of strength, but a solid Mongolian style leg trip. Kirishima first tried and inside leg trip, which failed, and a few moments later connected with a sotogake to land Asanoyama on shikiri-sen with a thud that was heard all the way up in the gaijin section of the Kokugikan’s upper deck. Kirishima improves to 3-2.
Hoshoryu defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi looks completely spent. There was an attempt to move to the side at the tachiai, followed by one good offensive run. But it was not enough to do more than move Hoshoryu back. He countered rapidly and ran Tamawashi out by oshidashi. Tamawashi remains winless, ad Hoshoryu improves to 2-3.
Takakeisho defeats Abi – Takakeisho hist with enough power at the tachiai that Abi is forced to step back, and immedately tries for a pull down. But the Grand Tadpole is at speed and he drove Abi from the ring before he hit the deck. From the replays it looks like there could have been a case for a monoii or even a rematch, but the judges let it stand, and Takakeisho advances to 4-1, needing just 4 more wins to clear kadoban.