Today is the day that the “Original Tadpole” finally came into his own. His struggles over the past several years have been of his own creation, and today he put those problems aside as he won his third yusho, and in all likelihood, promotion to Ozeki at long last. He has been performing more or less as an Ozeki for the last several tournaments, and I am quite happy to see him finally minted in sumo’s second highest rank. I am going to look forward to him continuing to be a tough, aggressive fighter for the next few years. I am hopeful that his elevation may motivate the other two Ozeki, most specifically Shodai, who could really use a boost right now.
The final match was a bit less than many (myself included) had hoped for. It’s now revealed that Terunofuji hurt himself a few days ago, but stuck with the basho as the lone Yokozuna do to his dedicate to giving the fans the full measure. So no playoff with Abi, and no barnyard brawl for the hardware. Sumo fans get a worry when they hear Terunofuji and lower body injury in the same paragraph, so we will have to see how it turns out. We all recognize we only have him for a short while, and to enjoy it while it lasts.
But hearty congratulations to soon to be Ozeki Mitakeumi! Hoist your fishes high, and celebrate with your heya and your supporters. In the immortal words of Futurama’s Bender, “About time!”
Kotokuzan defeats Tsurugisho – A bit of an odd slapping match that was favoring Tsurugisho quite nicely. A reversing / escape move that included a pull by Kotokuzan turned the match to his favor, and he sent Tsurugisho out. Tsurugisho drops to 6-9, and I would think back to Juryo. Kotokuzan improves to 10-5, and may have punched his ticket to the top division with that win.
Sadanoumi defeats Oho – The first Darwin match. Oho came out strong but could not follow through. In response, Sadanoumi rallied and drove forward with power, hitting Oho center mass and driving him from the ring. Sadanoumi kachi-koshi at 8-7, Oho make-koshi in his top division debut with 7-8, and will be back in Juryo for March to sort himself out.
Wakamotoharu defeats Akua – Akua chose to open with a nodowa, but could not make it stick. This gave Wakamotoharu a wide open route to his chest, and Wakamotoharu attacked with gusto. As Akua tried to get his foot positioned for a leg trip, Wakamotoharu bodily slammed him to the clay, improving to 9-6.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu’s injury is nowhere close to healed, and Ichiyamamoto makes quick work of him. Both the tournament with 5-10 records, and I have to wonder about Myogiryu’s planning.
Chiyonokuni defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko tried to get a left hand inside hold at the tachiai, but Chiyonokuni repulsed him with a mighty shove. Kotoeko worked to deliver thrusts to Chiyonokuni, but we were treated today of the Chiyonokuni of old. Massive thrusting power that was pretty much unstoppable. Kotoeko soon had enough and left the dohyo. Chiyonokuni finishes January 4-11.
Chiyotairyu defeats Tobizaru – Chiyotairyu landed a very well organized pull on Tobizaru during the second step, and sumo’s flying monkey quickly found himself over the bales for his 9th and final loss. Chiyotairyu finishes with 7-8.
Abi defeats Kotonowaka – I think this is the best match Abi had the entire basho. This was their first ever fight, and if these two go at it like this each time, we need to have one of these fights every tournament, maybe every day. Abi had the early advantage but could not finish Kotonowaka off. Kotonowaka rallied, and I think surprised Abi be the amount of focused power he could deliver. Abi is not used to being on defense, but he did manage to keep his feet and keep in the ring until he could switch back to attack mode. As he lunged back in, Kotonowaka was too high, and an easy mark for the hikiotoshi that soon followed. Abi finishes 12-3 with the Shukun-sho. Kotonowaka finishes 11-3 with the Kanto-sho. Well done, both!
Hoshoryu defeats Aoiyama – That has to be the most gentle shitatenage in the history of sumo. Hoshoryu continues to evolve towards a Harumafuji style of sumo, and I love it. The hit and shift at the tachiai, the right hand inside grip, and the stance are all progressing toward the Harumafuji style. He had Aoiyama pacified early and it was just a question of yorikiri or a throw. Hoshoryu ends Hatsu 11-4.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji spent the whole match trying to react to Terutsuyoshi’s sumo. With Terutsuyoshi calling the tune, he was likely to take the win, and we got a final katasukashi from him. Terutsuyoshi softens his make-koshi, finishing at 7-9.
Endo defeats Yutakayama – Endo got the inside lane early, and kept his attention on trying to convert thrusts into some kind of hold. Yutakayama responded by attacking high and keeping Endo back. Endo gave up on the hold attempts and just put power into Yutakayama’s chest, sending him back and out. This match was a great one to watch Endo’s foot placement and gait, I personally think that was the difference that delivered him the win. Endo finishes 7-8.
Ishiura defeats Tamawashi – I am sure Tamawashi had a fight plan, but Ishiura’s forceful tachiai seems to have knocked it right out of his head. With Ishiura at his chest pushing hard, Tamawashi had one shot to stop matters, but could not organize his body to escape at the edge. There was the start of a pull in there, but he was never able to put it in motion. Ishiura finishes 11-4, his best score ever.
Ichinojo defeats Tochinoshin – The next Darwin match was this battle of the bigs. Tochinoshin got his left hand outside right away, but we knew there was just too much of Ichinojo for Tochinoshin to lift him. That did not stop him from trying a few times, but please remember, he is a Boulder after all. After the lift attempts fell flat, it turned into a stamina match, and this was going to favor Ichinojo. As time extended, Tochinoshin tired, and Ichinojo incrementally took control of the scrum, walking Tochinoshin out to win by yorikiri. Tochinoshin take the loss and finishes make-koshi with 7-8 near the bottom of the banzuke. Ichinojo is kachi-koshi with 8-7 to finish Hatsu.
Ura defeats Chiyomaru – Last of the Darwin matches, Ura opened strong, putting pressure on Chiyomaru’s chest. As Chiyomaru moved to circle away, his right knee buckled and he hit the clay. It’s always a worry when someone of that size takes a fall in that manner, and I do hope Chiyomarau is ok. He finishes make-koshi at 7-8, while Ura is kachi-koshi at 8-7 for his final score.
Kiribayama defeats Okinoumi – The two grappled chest to chest at the tachiai, and struggled to see whose left hand was going to turn into an advantage first. In the struggle, Kiribayama broke contact, Okinoumi circled to his right, and Kiribayama found himself behind the veteran. A hearty push from behind finished him by okuridashi, and Okinoumi picked up his 11th loss of January to finish 4-11. Kiribayama’s final score improved to 6-9.
Wakatakakage defeats Onosho – The offense favored Onosho for this fight, but Wakatakakage did a fantastic job of keeping his balance and keeping in the match. He also knew that if he could endure Onosho’s attacks, he would find a moment where Onosho was too far forward. Of course that moment came, and Wakatakakage pulled him forward and down to win by katasukashi. Onosho finishes January with an impressive 10-5, Wakatakakage improves to 9-6. Both had fantastic tournaments.
Daieisho defeats Meisei – Meisei got perhaps half of a good hit in at the tachiai before Daieisho turned him and pushed him around. Meisei was completely off balance, had no stance to use in defense, and was ejected with prejudice. Daieisho improves to 7-8 for a final score.
Takanosho defeats Takarafuji – With this win, Takanosho saved himself a san’yaku slot. He found himself in trouble early, but managed to rally and catch Takarafuji unprepared to defend (what?). In fact, Takarafuji lost 4 of his last 5 matches, and I have to wonder if he got hurt around the middle weekend. Takanosho was able to break Takarafuji’s stance and drive him out the west side to improve to 7-8.
Shodai defeats Chiyoshoma – I am sure Shodai is glad this basho is done. Likewise Chiyoshoma. What a train wreck for both of them. Sure, Shodai actually got a nice throw in there, but his sumo was rough again today, and he was far from the sumo that got him to this rank. I hope he can sort himself out in the next 6 weeks, and clear kadoban early. Chiyoshoma finishes Hatsu with 4-11, Shodai a painful 6-9.
Mitakeumi defeats Terunofuji – The much anticipated “Brawl to end it all” was less battle royale than many hoped. Terunofuji opened strong, but on the second clash, Mitakeumi got both hands inside and employed his large, bulbous tadpole body to move Terunofuji back. Unable to generate enough forward pressure to counter Mitakeumi’s advance, Terunofuji stepped back and out, giving the win to Mitakeumi. An amazing 13-2 score for Mitakeumi to finish Hatsu, his third yusho, and I would guess promotion to Ozeki.
With that, dear readers, we conclude our daily coverage of the 2022 Hatsu basho. We enjoyed bringing you this tournament, and we thank you for sharing your love of sumo with us. Follow us as we await the official elevation of Makiteumi, and the work up to Osaka. Also, rumors in the air about a possible return to jungyo later this year. To everyone who took the time to join us – Thank you!