Day One had some great action, and some not-so-great action. (Profound. You’re such a wordsmith, Andy. Where do you get this brilliant insight?)
I’m almost relieved to see the matta controversy from yesterday because my mind had started down a different path after I saw Hokutofuji ease off. To be frank, when I was watching the bout live and even when I first saw the replay in the immediate aftermath, I thought it was a fair tachiai. I saw Hokutofuji’s second hand coming down and thought we had a bout. It wasn’t until later, after the matta chatter started, that I could see their point about the matta. And it is a valid point. Hokutofuji’s second hand was coming down but it likely didn’t touch.
In my mind, though, the most valid point is the lesson that Hakuho hopefully learned against Yoshikaze. Even if you think it’s a matta, you need to fight. The fight’s on until you hear the gyoji call it off. Takakeisho was in a four-point stance, ready to go. It was Hokutofuji who’d pinned his hopes, apparently, on drawing T-Rex off. When he was up against an Ozeki, an Ozeki who had clearly already committed to launch, Hokutofuji wanted to do some gamesmanship. He got caught out; so, we move on.
Tonight’s line-up is, again, chock-full of compelling bouts. My big surprise from yesterday was Oho. After Sadanoumi thrashed Kotoeko, I’m keen to see how Oho handles this matchup. I’m also eager to see this Mitakeumi-Atamifuji bout. Initially, I thought it would be a great matchup. Now, I really want to see what condition Mitakeumi is in. I hope Leonid’s correct, that Ryuden just has his number. But yesterday’s bout left me concerned about ongoing injury issues. Today’s bout with Atamifuji will be another big test.
Kitanowaka (2-0) defeated Roga (0-2) Kitanowaka seemed to take the initiative early in this bout, driving the action. He steered Roga around the ring, and with a twisting throw, dropped Roga to the clay. Sukuinage.
Tohakuryu (1-1) defeated Nishikigi (0-2). A quick tachiai and slapdown attempt from Tohakuryu caught Nishikifuji off-guard and put him off-balance. Tohakuryu followed up by getting behind Nishikifuji and he pushed him off the dohyo. Okuridashi.
Nishikifuji will face Roga as both seek out their first win this basho. Nishikifuji has won their only previous meeting.
Ichiyamamoto (2-0) defeated Churanoumi (1-1). Matta from Ichiyamamoto. Churanoumi attempted a pull and slapdown but Ichiyamamoto resisted well and drove forward. This used Churanoumi’s momentum from the pull to blast him out of the ring and onto his butt. Oshitaoshi
Churanoumi will fight the undefeated Kitanowaka on Day 3. Kitanowaka has the edge in their rivalry and he’s looking ready this basho.
Tomokaze (1-1) defeated Takarafuji (0-2): Solid tsuppari and good footwork led Tomokaze to push Takarafuji over the bales. Takarafuji was unable to get inside or get any sort of grip. Oshidashi.
Tomokaze will face Tohakuryu tomorrow.
Tamawashi (2-0) defeated Tsurugisho (1-1). Tsurugisho landed a belt grip, briefly. Tamawashi made him pay for invading his personal space by using strong thrusts to the head to force him back and off-balance. Tamawashi continued his attack until he pushed Tsurugisho from the ring. Oshidashi.
I’m a bit worried about Tsurugisho’s knee; he fell awkwardly today. He will need all of his mobility to take on Ichiyamamoto tomorrow. It’s not looking good since Ichiyamamoto is undefeated in their rivalry, with 8 wins and 0 losses.
Sadanoumi (2-0) defeated Oho (1-1). Sadanoumi’s Oshi attack forced Oho to the edge but Oho twisted, nearly throwing Sadanoumi with a sukuinage. While Sadanoumi resisted being thrown, Oho regained the positional advantage, pushing Sadanoumi to the outside. The Oshi bout shifted to a yotsu contest as the two tussled to throw each other. Sadanoumi again drove Oho to the tawara and this time forced him over the edge. Solid sumo and excellent footwork from Sadanoumi. Great power sumo from a guy who is often under the radar. Yoritaoshi.
Oho will take on Takarafuji tomorrow. Let’s see if he can bounce back from today’s loss.
Kotoeko (1-1) defeated Hiradoumi (0-2). Hiradoumi had the advantage at the tachiai, as he pushed Kotoeko to the tawara. But he couldn’t follow through. From here, Kotoeko braced his feet and wrapped up Hiradoumi, driving him to the other side and then around the tawara before pushing him out over the edge. Oshidashi.
Ice cold Hiradoumi will face a red hot Tamawashi on Day 3. Tamawashi has won 2 of their 3 bouts.
Ryuden (2-0) defeated Myogiryu (0-2). Myogiryu had a strong tachiai but could not force Ryuden out. Ryuden countered well and established his favorite belt grip, then ushered Myogiryu over the edge. Yorikiri.
Ryuden will face Sadanoumi tomorrow and both men have been in fine form. It’s an interesting contrast of styles, here. I know this bout will go by under most peoples’ radar but it could be a quiet highlight.
Atamifuji (2-0) defeated Mitakeumi (0-2). Atamifuji wrapped up Mitakeumi in a big bear hug, both arms over Mitakeumi’s driving him back to the edge. He conceded a double-inside grip to Mitakeumi, who tried to twist and throw at the tawara. But Atamifuji continued to drive forward and Mitakeumi’s knee crumpled a bit awkwardly as he fell. Yorikiri.
Mitakeumi will face Kotoeko. He’s got the size advantage and has won their previous two bouts. But Kotoeko will come into this in better form.
Hokuseiho (2-0) defeated Endo (0-2). An interesting battle from Hokuseiho as he develops his style. Both men quickly landed a one-handed belt grip, Endo with his left, Hokuseiho deep over Endo’s back with his right. Hokuseiho used his left hand to keep Endo’s right hand back. As Endo fought to free his right and seek out Hokuseiho’s maemitsu, Hokuseiho brought his left hand down on Endo and pulled him forward. The call was uwatenage but it looked like it could have been hatakikomi. The win here came from the overwhelming force from Hokuseiho’s left hand driving into the base of Endo’s neck and shoulders.
Winless Endo will face winless Myogiryu. They’ve split their previous contests with ten wins apiece. Endo has looked more competitive in his bouts so far.
Takanosho (1-1) defeated Kinbozan (1-1). Takanosho hit Kinbozan with a strong blow to the face. As Kinbozan pulled, Takanosho pursued and corralled Kinbozan at the edge, pushing him over the tawara. Solid footwork from Takanosho to keep Kinbozan centered. Oshidashi.
Oof. Kinbozan will face Atamifuji. This should be an interesting contrast with Atamifuji having won their only previous bout.
Shonannoumi (2-0) defeated Onosho (1-1). This was all Shonannoumi. He quickly wrapped up Onosho with a right-hand inside. Onosho may have tried a pull but Shonannoumi was locked in. No one is falling for pulls so far this tournament. It’s great! Everyone keeps their opponent focused and with solid footwork, drives them out. Yorikiri.
Shonannoumi will face Hokuseiho in the battle of the tall guys. Who will establish their brand of sumo? So far Hokuseiho has the 2-0 edge in this rivalry.
Midorifuji (1-1) defeated Nishikigi (0-2). Midorifuji had a solid tachiai and drove into Nishikigi pushing him back to the edge. He twisted his body wriggled his hand inside, landing a moro-zashi double-inside belt grip to force Nishikigi over the bales. Yorikiri.
Midorifuji will take on Takanosho. Surprisingly, it will be their first meeting.
Tobizaru (1-1) defeated Hokutofuji (0-2). Hokutofuji drove forward but could not keep Tobizaru centered. As Tobizaru snuck out to the left, he drove his hand down. But Hokutofuji maintained his balance. The problem was that he kept going forward which allowed Tobizaru to get behind and push Hokutofuji out from the back. Okuridashi.
Daieisho (2-0) blasted Gonoyama (0-2) and started to drive Gonoyama back. But Gonoyama shifted to the side as he tried to stay at the center of the ring and both guys fell at the same time. Gunbai had to go to someone, so it went to Daieisho. Mono-ii, but a quick review determined that we needed a rematch. Again, Daieisho with strong tsuppari. But Gonoyama was determined to whether the storm. As Gonoyama came forward, Daieisho slipped to the right. The slight change in direction was enough to drop Gonoyama to the clay. Hikiotoshi.
Gonoyama will try to bounce back against Onosho. They’ve split their previous two bouts.
Kotonowaka (2-0) defeated Takayasu (1-1). Kotonowaka tried a pull but Takayasu maintained his balance and pushed forward. But Takayasu lost Kotonowaka for a second and Kotonowaka was able to come in from the side and push Takayasu out.
Takayasu has drawn Daieisho for tomorrow. Takayasu has won 11 of their 19 fights but Daieisho has claimed the last three straight. Both have had competitive bouts so this will be a firecracker.
Wakamotoharu (1-1) defeated Meisei (0-2). Epic niramiai here (stare downs). Meisei tried hard to take his sumo right at Wakamotoharu. He drove forward hard but could not budge Wakamotoharu. When Wakamotoharu landed his left-hand inside belt grip, he quickly forced Meisei over the bales. Yorikiri.
Wakamotoharu will fly around with Tobizaru tomorrow. They’re very evenly matched with Wakamotoharu having the slight 8 to 7 edge in this rivalry. Anyone’s guess who will take it? Meanwhile, Meisei will face Kotonowaka. They’ve split their previous meetings, with 5 wins apiece.
Takakeisho (2-0) defeated Shodai (0-2). Some days, Shodai is merely a blip. Others, he brings it all and plays an amazing spoiler. Today was one of those rare third days where Shodai came tantalizingly close to winning but it slipped from his grasp. He let Takakeisho drive him to the edge at the tachiai but he used the leverage to force his way back. Then, he took Takakeisho’s style to the man, himself. He forced Takakeisho to back up. Takakeisho ducked to Shodai’s left and Shodai pursued, hitting Takakeisho again. Shodai lined up to bring it to Takakeisho again but Takakeisho slipped to the side again. This time, Shodai lost his balance and fell to the clay. The Ozeki got the win but loses a bit more of my confidence in his ability to win this basho. Hikiotoshi.
Hoshoryu (2-0) defeated Ura (0-2). The two locked horns in a great back-and-forth tussle. This was really a bit of a stalemate as neither had enough power to overwhelm the other. It devolved into a brief brawl with the Ozeki in pursuit of Ura. When Ura got to the edge, he lept to the side hoping Hoshoryu would fly off balance. But Hoshoryu stayed on the dohyo while Ura landed in the crowd. Oshitaoshi.
Hoshoryu will fight Hokutofuji in the musubi-no-ichiban on Day 3. Hoshoryu has the edge in their rivalry and has the better form this basho. Will Hokutofuji get it together and get an upset? Meanwhile, Ura will be paired off with Takakeisho. T-Rex has been dominating Ura with a 13-3 record. Ura needs to right his ship but it will be a challenge.
Kirishima (2-0) defeated Abi (1-1). Abi could not get his tsuppari going. He landed a solid thrust at the initial charge but Kirishima was all over him from there. Rather than let Abi keep the assault going, Kirishima closed, quickly. As Abi retreated, he tried a slapdown but Kirishima was all over him like white on rice. Oshidashi.
Kirishima will face Shodai. Shodai actually has the edge in their head-to-head with 10 wins to Kirishima’s 7. Abi will get a bit of a break as he fights the winless Nishikigi.