Welcome one and all to the first day of the Nagoya Basho. If you live in Japan and watch television, over the past few weeks you’ve no doubt noticed Takanohana and his wife on a lot of programs promoting sumo. In fact many rikishi were on a show, the name is lost on me somewhere at the moment, where they competed in various competitions against famous Japanese people. Takamisakari against super featherweight Takahiro Ao in a hand pushing balance contest, or my personal favorite Gagamaru, Kotoshogiku, Fujiazuma, Baruto, Miyabiyama, Aoiyama, and Wakanosato against some comedians and professional eaters.
Seeing these giants in a different light is certainly one of the aims of promoting the sport through various shows. On that same show it was a joy to see Hakuho, Aminishiki, and Kakuryu, who had one hell of a voice, compete in a karaoke competition. I’ll look forward to seeing if this helps put folks in the seats at this basho.
The main story line in the media has been Kisenosato and his second shot at the Yusho. Will he take it or will Hakuho not let the cup slide away again? Let’s take a look at some of the best bouts from day one!
Ikioi vs. Chiyotairyu
Chiyotairyu is probably one of the most powerful up and coming rikishi I’ve seen in quite sometime. That being said, what I saw of him last basho didn’t give me much positive material to work with. The kid was back peddling up a storm and pulling instead of moving forward. Ikioi is a favorite of mine but when he managed to make it to Makuuchi last time he was too slow to hang. Would today’s match be different? Chiyotairyu wins the tachi-ai sending Ikioi back to the bales in one powerful thrust! Thataboy tried to recover but Tairyu kept on moving forward and sent Ikioi flying. A bit out of control but a good first win for Chiyotairyu.
Daido vs. Takanoyama
Like other commentators on this website, Takanoyama has grown on me over the past few bashos. I won’t say that I think he’s going to draw more fans to the basho yet, but I will say that he’s a joy to watch for those in attendance and viewing online. He’ll have to surprise a few more people during the big show for that to even be possible. Today Daido wraps the Czech up however at the word tachi-ai and pushes him out of the ring. So it goes in the life of one of the lightest makuuchi rikishi in quite some time.
Gagamaru vs. Shotenro
Lord Gaga is 3-2 against Shotenro. Today Sho false-started and then the show began. Even tachi-ai between the Georgian and Mongolian, but then Gaga really tried to get inside! Sensing that THE GAGA was too far forward and low, Shotenro simple put his weight on top of the Georgian, slapping the Georgian Giant to the ground! Shotenro moves to 1-0.
Homasho vs. Takayasu
Two great rikishi here with Takayasu leading the series over Homasho 3-1. Homasho played this one in his classic defensive stance, absorbing everything Takayasu had. Homasho wears out the hairier rikishi and starts off 1-0.
This is the halfway point in the Makuuchi Division report. It should also be noted that this was also when the banners dropped that the day had been sold out. It’s been said before but hell, starting the Makuuchi matches at 5:00 instead of 4:00 would likely do the sport some good.
Tochinoshin vs. Shohozan
First time I can recall seeing Tochinoshin look like there was some fire in his belly since back when he beat the majority of the Ozekis a long while back. Shohozan, another hairy beast of a rikishi has been looking really good as of late. The two went back and forth with tsupari until Noshin grabbed Shohozan by the head and sent him flying. Tochinoshin, back from mediocrity? He moves to 1-0.
Goeido has never lost to Wakakoyu in the Makuuchi Division, until today. Wakakoyu was relentlessly slapping and pulling down on Goeido’s head. It seemed to catch the Sekiwake off guard and before he knew it the match was over. Wakakoyu moves to 1-0.
Okinoumi vs. Kakuryu
Kakuryu drives Don to the bales where The Juan was able to break the Mongolians solid outside grip. At this point it looked like Okinoumi was in the drivers seat with the superior position and grip. After a moment The Looker from Shimane picked up Kakuryu and drove him to the bales. Notice how I didn’t say he picked him up and set him outside of the ring. In other words you can guess what happened next. The Ozeki easily counters on the bales and throw Okinoumi out of the ring. One win for team Ozeki.
Could Kotooshu close the 14-17 gap between himself and Aminishiki? The injured Ozeki? I was thinking this one was a done deal. Oshu and Sneaky meet at the tachi-ai with nothing spectacular, but then Oshu started pushing the Aomori native around like his rank depended on it! This strength and determination almost appeared to catch Sneaky off guard and by that time he was already in the second row of the fan seating! Oshu, injury and all move to 1-0. I can only imagine he’s counting the matches down!
Aoiyama had no idea what kind of welcome present Harumafuji had in store for him today! Haruma nails the younger Bulgarian in the face with one of the meanest harites (slaps to the face) I’ve ever seen. Luckily for Aoiyama the second one missed, which surprisingly looked fiercer! Aoi didn’t know what hit him as Ama drove the youngin’ out of the ring with a jumping airborne who’s your daddy dametaoshi. Yikes Aoiyama’s face looked red after that slap. Team Ozeki is 3-0!
Tochiozan won the tachi-ai and was looking genki but Kotoshogiku calmly got under his right armpit to tip the balance of the Ozan. Geeku was able to do what Geeku does best after that. Holy hell team Ozeki is 5-0!
Myogiryu is the main reason Kisenosato did not take the Yusho during the Natsu basho. The fact that this young rikishi is so fearless and tough makes him one who is easy to like. Today Kisenosato wasn’t going to let the young pup get the one up on him again. The Ozeki gave the komusubi no room to maneuver whatsoever as Kisenosato makes it six in a row for the Ozeki!
Hakuho faced off against komusubi Toyonoshima. Hakuho easily wraps up the Shima but surprisingly gets sloppy at the bales. The two fall out of the ring and from my perspective the Yokozuna definitely lost this bout due to his messy sumo. The judges, perhaps sensing the need for there to be an interesting yusho race, or maybe seeing the bout from an angle called a torinaoshi (do over). This time Hakuho looked far more like himself. He got his grip and waited for Toyo to make a move. The second the komusubi moved Hakuho was like lightning driving him right out of the ring. Not a bad first day of sumo here!
One final note before I go. Egyptian rikishi Oosunaarashi or you may know him by his nickname, Boody is currently in the hospital with a blood clot, shoulder injury, and fever. Please keep this fine young man in your thoughts and if you have a moment send him a get well message on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/Oosunaarashi
Bertrum gotcha for the day two action!