Kyushu 2021 Day One
Ashitori. Ura didn't just grab Tamawashi's leg, but did such a perfect leg pick that Tamawashi looked surprised and never had a chance. Word should also be given to Chiyoshoma's absurd up and around henka that allowed him to immediately grab Kotoeko's mawashi from the back and throw the Sadogatake man on a ringside gyoji.
Match of the Day
Yokozuna East Terunofuji versus Komusubi West Kiribayama
Kiribayama put Terunofuji on upset alert from the tachiai in this one. He successfully enough attacked Terunofuji's arms that the Yokozuna could not get any sort of a grip. After a bit of a struggle, Terunofuji did manage a grip. The problem was it was only on the very front of Kiribayama's mawashi. At that point, Terunofuji did start putting in his trademark power and just overwhelmed the younger man. Terunofuji one with a komatasukui, a scooping thigh throw that was really more of a bulldozer on Kiribayama's lower body.
A sumo fan could be forgiven for feeling underwhelmed coming into Kyushu 2021. Terunofuji was the sole Yokozuna, with both Ozeki below him coming off 8-7 and no one even threatening an Ozeki run. Additionally, the retirement of Hakuho led to a stream of past highlights of exciting Yokozuna vs Yokozuna and Yokozuna vs Ozeki matches. Those seemed unlikely to take place for Kyushu.
But Day One brought some excellent sumo. In the lower part of Makuuchi, Hokutofuji didn't just look healthy, but beat Ishiura when he got in a minor mawashi battle. More excitingly, Abi didn't just show he was back, but gave a relentless effort to disrupt the much bigger Chiyomaru with his trademark tsuppari. Chiyoshoma unleashed a wild henka. Ura unfurled a remarkable ashitori. Hoshoryu unveiled a devastating belt throw. And that was in three straight matches.
More encouragingly, the Sanyaku had exciting matches. Ichinojo won in a marathon against Okinoumi. Takanosho upset Meisei to prove he's in a similar class to Wakatakakage and Meisei still. Mitakeumi bundled Onosho in what would be his ideal match scenario. Takakeisho took Wakatakakage's best shot, reloaded, and won with a side push down. Daieisho then upset Shodai by never allowing the Ozeki to get near his mawashi. Then Terunofuji and Kiribayama had a great closer. (See above.)
The two top ranked men marching towards each other undefeated may not happen this basho. Terunofuji is the only current rikishi who has recently had that kind of tournament. Yet the Sanyaku and upper Maegashira will be competitive. If someone gets 10 wins here, they've absolutely deserved it. The joi is a tough road to travel for Kyushu.
If there's one more encouraging sign from Day One, it's that the surprise Maegashira who ends up in the Yusho race, a guaranteed role even if his identity can't be guessed, may be someone who has the talent to be in the joi. Abi is coming back from a suspension. Hokutofuji missed much of Aki with an inury. Hoshoryu had an illness marred basho himself. This lineup may be loaded, and the basho can go many places.