- Fantasy Basho
Aki 2021 Day One
Oshidashi. That was what Hokutofuji officially beat Takakeisho with, but that is probably generous to the Ozeki. It wasn't really a front push out, because Takakeisho was twisted all around after getting fairly overwhelmed. Any kimarite that indicated he was pushed extremely forcefully from the side and behind would be better.
Match of the Day
Ozeki 1 East Shodai versus Maegashira 1 East Hoshoryu
Shodai had the advantage at the start, using his peculiarly effective catching tachiai and making Hoshoryu awkwardly step backward. Then Hoshoryu took the pause at the tawara to redo his grip. He got both arms deep under Shodai's armpits, which sent the Ozeki upright and then backwards in a hurry. Remarkable opening day for the young Mongolian.
The day began with the first ever in-Kokugikan dohyo-iri from shin-Yokozuna Terunofuji. It did not begin with Hakuho performing his dohyo-iri, because Hakuho is out for Aki. The new grand champion had to take his turn solo, heralding his new era in an odd transitional moment. Day One in Makuuchi seemed to herald that we aren't done with transitions.
It is always wisest to not read too much into Day One. Any rikishi can unleash a string of wins after losing his first match, and we'll forget about it by next weekend. One day in sumo does not mean too much, usually, and getting suckered into believing Day One is fate happens because it is all we have at the start. Really, only think Day One determines anything is an obvious, visible injury happens.
That caveat out of the way, Day One held some interesting results. The headline will be that both Ozeki lost. Takakeisho looked lost for his whole pre-match routine and actual match against Hokutofuji. He is coming back from a neck injury, and he looks like he isn't mentally ready. Shodai did what he should against Hoshoryu, but Hoshoryu seemed to pull a new trick out of the bag. He also ended up outmuscling the much-bigger Shodai because of excellent use of leverage. That is a statement win, and he gets Terunofuji on Day Two.
Elsewhere on the Torikumi had intriguing matches, too. Kiribayama and Wakatakakage beat Sanyaku opponents in Takayasu and Meisei, respectively. Daieisho forcefully beat Chiyoshoma. Those three victors are probably looking to prove not only they belong at the top of the Banzuke, but can stick there. Tobizaru fought Aoiyama in a weird match that saw him bottled up in a grappling contest, but the Flying Monkey prevailed. Yutakayama got the victory over Kaisei in his Makuuchi return.
But the final match went as it should have on paper. Few men are bigger or stronger than Terunofuji, but Ichinojo may be both. It didn't matter. Terunofuji grabbed his countryman from the start and just sent him walking backwards out of the dohyo. It looked like practice. Aki 2021 will be Terunofuji's basho until someone takes it from him.