A fair amount of ring rust on display here today, as there were a flurry of mattas called. Folks could not quite get the match timing right, and we saw multiple fights struggle to start. The sumo was good for opening day, and I think most of the rikishi fought well. I was specifically happy to see Mitakeumi come out strong, focused and finally back in fighting form. He has a tough November ahead of him, I wish him the best.
It was a treat to see a strong, focused Takayasu bring some of his best sumo out today. I know that by week two he will be struggling to compete through his injuries, but it’s nice to see that guy deliver a strong performance. Coupled with Wakatakakage’s tendency to “cold start”, it made for some dominant sumo today. Fans like to talk about Wakatakakage as being ready for higher rank, and his sumo certainly seems about ready to support that. But if that man can resolve his cold start issues, I think he could make it to Yokozuna.
Tohakuryu defeats Terutsuyoshi – Sorry fans, that was a terrible match. Terutsuyoshi still looks completely off of his sumo, and I am going to guess whatever injury has been behind his three straight make-koshi is still in effect. A matta, and then an immediate hatakikomi on the second attempt. Worse yet, Terutsuyoshi looks tentative, lethargic and unprepared. Tohakuryu returns to Juryo 1-0.
Hiradoumi defeats Atamifuji – Another sloppy tachiai, that I think should have been a matta, when Hiradoumi caught Atamifuji napping or thinking about something else. From there, Atamifuji tried to get hand placement, but found himself being dominated by Hiradoumi, who took 4 steps and tossed him over the east side. Hiradoumi starts 1-0.
Kagayaki defeats Azumaryu – Kagayaki stayed focus, and applied pressure inside well. But his balance was off a bit, and he was too far forward. Fortunately for him, Azumaryu was not really ready to defend, and he was quickly walked out. Kagayaki at 1-0.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Oho – Oho could not find a way to keep his footing against Ichiyamamoto’s double arm attack. Rather than attempting to disrupt Ichiyamamoto’s offense, Oho decided to try some offense of his own, which went nowhere. Oho was backed up and shoved out of the ring to give Ichiyamamoto an opening day win, advancing to 1-0.
Kotoeko defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi repeatedly tried to get some kind of grip on Kotoeko, but each time his hands found no purchase. Kotoeko deftly kept Okinoumi from setting his feet, and danced him about until Kotoeko’s hands and body were set up for a throw. The resulting kotenage rolled Okinoumi to the clay, and Kotoeko improves to 1-0.
Kotoshoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Surprising change of pace from Chiyotairyu, who did not launch off the shikiri-sen straight into an overwhelming pushing attack. He gave Kotoshoho the early advantage, but got a clear path inside and went to work. His attacks were moving Kotoshoho back, but as is frequently the case with Chiyotairyu, he was too far forward and ate a tsukiotoshi at the edge of the ring. Kotoshoho picks up an opening day win, and is 1-0.
Onosho defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma tried an opening face slap, which landed, but left him standing nearly upright, and his chest wide open. Onosho knew just what to do with that, grappled Chiyoshoma, and ran him over the edge of the ring. Onosho 1-0 to start Kyushu.
Abi defeats Aoiyama – If Abi is healthy, he’s going to do a lot of damage ranked this low. It also helps in today’s match that Aoiyama is a fraction of his former power, and immediately comes under Abi’s double arm thrusing attack. Aoiyama can’t hold his footing, and is quickly moved out and back. Nice move by Abi to keep Aoiyama from falling over the side of the dohyo, he’s 1-0.
Takanosho defeats Tochinoshin – Not the kind of match that Tochinoshin wanted for his first day on the clay this month. He made a mistake at the open by trying to pull, but seized the initiative away from Takanosho by brute power three steps later. But as Tochinoshin was setting up the win, his heel slid out and into the fine sand (janome) around the outside of the bales. A monoii ensued, and reversed the gyoji’s decision, giving Takanosho at 1-0 start to Kyushu.
Myogiryu defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji gets completely disrupted, and it almost looked like his upper and lower body were out of sync. Myogiryu stayed focused, and kept his balance, sending Takarafuji out by okuritaoshi. Myogiryu improves to 1-0.
Ryuden defeats Endo – Endo’s poor results continue in November. Ryuden gets him turned to the side, and never lets his recover balance or position. Ryuden’s lower back (a chronic worry for him) seems to be ok right now, so he remained low and stable, sending Endo out by yorikiri. Ryuden at 1-0.
Nishikifuji defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi is easy to anticipate, he will always work to get some kind of grip as his first, second and third moves. Nishikifuji accounted for this, and implemented a measured oshi-zumo phase to start the match, opening up Nishikigi’s chest. He followed that up with a double inside grip, and suddenly Nishikigi was in trouble. Two steps later, he was out, and Nishikifuji took the win to improve to 1-0.
Sadanoumi defeats Hokutofuji – For the first time in six attempts, Sadanoumi has been able to win over Hokutofuji. Sadanoumi’s speed played a large role in his win, coupled with Hokutofuji looking a bit rusty in his sumo. Sadanoumi starts Kyushu 1-0.
Wakamotoharu defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji could not prevent Wakamotoharu from getting his preferred grip. What strikes me about watching Wakamotoharu is that he tends to show quite a bit of patience, and he has the defensive moves programmed into his lower body to give him the time to take his time. Once he set up grip, he wore Midorifuji down a piece at a time, finally walking Midorifuji out once he was ready. Wakamotoharu starts 1-0.
Kiribayama defeats Ura – Really nice escape move by Kiribayama to set up the katasukashi. Ura opened strong, and had the early advantage, choosing an armpit attack at first, but failed to cover to his left. Kiribayama took that opening and converted it to a win, he improves to 1-0.
Ichinojo defeats Tamawashi – Ichinojo does not let the media noise distract him today. Tamawashi attacked very well, but once it was clear that Ichinojo was not going to go soft at the first sign of trouble, you knew where this one was going. Ichinojo keeps in mind that he is enormous, and powers his bulk into position and shoves Tamawashi out. Snorlax win takes Ichinojo to 1-0.
Mitakeumi defeats Meisei – No ring rust on Mitakeumi today. He needs 10 wins, and he is not letting a single opportunity go to waste, it seems. He gets inside and underneath Meisei, and relentlessly drives forward. A quick oshidashi win, and the Ozekiwake now needs 9 more, as he is 1-0.
Hoshoryu defeats Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka was too high at the tachiai, and I was surprised that Hoshoryu could not convert that mistake more quickly. He let Kotonowaka back him up, and then charge ahead to win. Clever move by Hoshoryu, as Kotonowaka drove forward, Hoshoryu twisted to his right, and thrust Kotonowaka down. Kotonowaka landed a moment before Hoshoryu did (confirmed by monoii), and Hoshoryu starts November 1-0.
Takayasu defeats Wakatakakage – I mentioned that Takayasu has to fight through his accumulated injuries. This shows up prominently in the fact that his early matches in a basho tend to be better, as he is more genki at the start. The man trains like a maniac, but there’s only so much you can do with that much damage. Today, Wakatakakage got a full power Takayasu fight, featuring the forearm strike to the chin, focused tsuppari to the chest, and relentless drive. I compliment Wakatakakage that he absorbed it well, until a Takayasu caught him shifting his feet, and blasted him across of the east side bales. Takayasu starts 1-0.
Tobizaru defeats Shodai – Good defense at the tachiai from Shodai, but he allowed Tobizaru to get both hands inside by the third step, and was in real trouble. Shodai managed to break contact, but could not contend with Tobizaru’s high agility sumo. At the moment Shodai needed to deploy the “Wall of Daikon”, Tobizaru hit him with a volley to the face, and that put the Ozeki out. Tobizaru improves to 1-0.
Takakeisho defeats Daieisho – Daieisho gave it everything he could muster, but could not overcome Takakeisho’s solid defense. Takakeisho waited for his chance, then counter-attacked with considerable force, sending Daieisho airborne and out. Takakeisho starts 1-0.