Ugly, brutal day in the top ranks as day 2 shows that in transitional eras, you can’t count on rank to indicate how a match is going to play out. Furthermore, we saw two big men stunned or injured in their matches today. But it was a feast of great sumo, and I credit the new generation of rikishi for really knowing their craft and executing it with skill, strength and purpose. While there is still plenty of ring rust hanging around, its clear that some of the “double wide” Komusubi corps are going to be contenders at least until day 10.
I note with great sadness that Goeido did in fact go kyujo from that ankle twist on day 1. While normally this kind of injury might be ranked as minor, given the amount of medical reconstruction he has had on his ankle, this might be the kind of injury that puts Goeido in a position to retire. While I do give Goeido a hard time, please note its mostly because we know he can be a complete badass, but many times he can’t quite bring himself together enough to do it. I hope his injury is not serious, and he can make a return.
Wakatakakage defeats Daishoho – Wakatakakage shows some fine form as he grabs Daishoho’s right arm and takes him for a spin. I am still trying to put my finger on why Wakatakakage’s sumo seems to be higher energy than most of the other top division rikihsi.
Nishikigi defeats Daishomaru – Straight ahead match where Nishikigi got the better of the tachiai and just kept advancing. We are still deep into ring rust territory it seems.
Chiyomaru defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi does literally bounce off of that enormous beach-ball belly of Chiyomaru, and never really recovers control over his feet. Chiyomaru’s thrusting technique is good enough that he can keep you moving off balance if you ever lose your footing.
Kagayaki defeats Takanosho – Kagayaki keeps his hands low at the tachiai, which makes it look quite odd, but it seems to work well today as he briefly establishes a right hand inside grip. While Kagayaki is not intent on a yotsu match, its enough to make Takanosho react to the situation, and just like that Kagayaki is controlling the match.
Shimanoumi defeats Ishiura – High marks to Ishiura’s evasion techniques here, but it’s not fooling Shimanoumi for a moment. In spite of getting maemitsu, Ishiura can never get his feet set, and Shimanoumi wears him down.
Shodai defeats Chiyotairyu – No cartoon sumo today, just solid defense. Shodai absorbs Chiyotairyu’s big tachiai and gets to work. Still encrusted with ring rust, Chiyotairyu’s follow on attempt to pull him down goes nowhere, and its Shodai’s match.
Yutakayama defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku tries again and again to set up the hug-n-chug, but Yutakayama’s defensive form is excellent. He keeps his hips lower that Kotoshogiku’s, and continually deflects to Kyushu Bulldozer’s forward thrust away from center.
Tsurugisho defeats Shohozan – “Big Guns” Shohozan starts a brawl, delivering blow after blow to Tsurugisho’s face. But Tsurugisho keeps backing Shohozan up, until he can finally interpose his enormous fleshy chest to stop the pommelling from Shohozan, and forces Shohozan out. Tsurugisho did not look quite right following, and took a moment to get his wits back.
Sadanoumi defeats Kotoeko – Sadanoumi kept pushing straight ahead and gave Kotoeko no room to set up any kind of thrusting attack. This was probably the way Sadanoumi had hoped the match would go.
Onosho defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama tried for some kind of haymaker blow during the tachiai, and it left him hideously off balance. Onosho took the gift that was offered and helped Aoiyama continue the motion all the way to the clay.
Enho defeats Ryuden – Enho’s low tachiai folded straight into a circle to the left, and Ryuden tried to meet him head on. This left him balanced on only his right leg, and an easy pick off for Enho, as Ryuden had very little distance to get his footing.
Tamawashi defeats Takarafuji – Like so many of his matches where he is out gunned, Takarafuji’s approach seems to be to stalemate, absorb the attacks, but stay upright and in the ring. This was working very well until Tamawashi lost his balance and Takarafuji went in to finish him. No longer focused on defense, Takarafuji was not able to square his hips, and Tamawashi pushed him out.
Kotoyuki defeats Tomokaze – Again we see Tomokaze work almost exclusively for a pull, and Kotoyuki knows its coming. But Kotoyuki focuses center-mass and just keeps attacking in the face of Tomokaze’s focus on Kotoyuki’s neck. Sadly Tomokaze may have injured his knee in the bout, and we saw him taken back to the dressing room in that giant wheelchair.
Meisei defeats Endo – Endo twice put everything into landing a shallow right hand grip on Meisei’s mawashi, both times he missed. But his left him wide open to Meisei’s counter attack, sending Endo out and into the zabuton. Solid sumo from Meisei to score his first ever win against Endo.
Hokutofuji defeats Mitakeumi – This match did not disappoint. Mitakeumi opened strong with a rapid thrust combo that had Hokutofuji turned to the side an off balance. Hokutofuji unwisely went for the neck and a pull down, but had no room and no leverage. But it did leave him with a solid grip opportunity, and Hokutofuji took it. Mitakeumi pushed with everything he could muster, but Hokutofuji held his ground. If you can freeze-frame this match, you can see the point where Mitakeumi is pushing so hard he lifts himself up against Hokutofuji’s iron strong defensive footing. This is what makes me think Hokutofuji has a lot of room to move higher on the banzuke. Some of his sumo is just wonderful to watch. Mitakeumi continues to push, but Hokutofuji just keeps nibbling away, and it’s working; Mitakeumi starts yielding ground. Mitakeumi realizes he’s losing ground, and rallies directly into a second Hokutofuji pull down attempt, which finishes the match. Nice sumo from the Komusubi.
Myogiryu defeats Tochinoshin – Once again we see Tochinoshin set up the left hand outside “Sky crane” grip, but unable to square his hips for set his feet. Myogiryu slowly duck walks in reverse, denying Tochinoshin to platform to lift him, but keeping the former Ozeki increasingly off balance. A twist to the right and Tochinoshin is on the clay, with a heartbreaking 0-2 start to a basho where he needs 10 wins.
Asanoyama defeats Takakeisho – The clash of styles payed off as Asanoyama is able to set the terms of the match, and Takakeisho is unable to delivery any meaningful offense. Once Asanoyama had a hold of Takakeisho’s body, the Ozeki was solely focused on escape while Asanoyama put him on the clay. I still have hopes that Takakeisho will make his 8, but Asanoyama once again shows why he’s a rising star.
Abi defeats Takayasu – Day 1 Takayasu looked like Takayasu from a year ago. Day 2 Takayasu looked like Takayasu from last week. Disorganized, right hand only sumo that Abi dismantled and sent packing. Bad day for the Ozeki corps.
Daieisho defeats Hakuho – Sure, it can work on the Yokozuna too! I am really not sure what happened here. Hakuho had a solid start, but he bared his chest to Daieisho, and Daieisho obliged by applying a surprising amount of force, knocking the boss back to the tawara. To me it looked like Hakuho decided that was it, and stepped out. Most unusual. Congratulations to Daieisho for the kinboshi! I hope this is not an indicator that Hakuho’s gamey big toe is acting up again.