After butting heads with his opponent in the day's final bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Takakeisho calmly swatted his opponent to one side before using trademark arm thrusts to send Wakamotoharu out and pick up the opening day win.
If Takakeisho could win the Emperor's Cup in a fortnight, the Tokiwayama stable wrestler would have a shot at earning promotion to yokozuna. But there is a lot of sumo left before that.
For now, he will be happy to open his New Year campaign with a trouble-free win.
Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu Collect Wins on First Day of New Year Basho
In other major bouts, Wakamotoharu's brother sekiwake Wakatakakage quickly got a right-hand outside grip on the belt of Meisei after the face-off and calmly waltzed the komusubi out over the edge to open with a convincing win.
Mongolian sekiwake Hoshoryu came bursting out of the face-off, got a grip on the belt of Tobizaru and overwhelmed the top maegashira. A powerful shove sent sumo’s Flying Monkey into the second row of ringside seats.
Hoshoryu has bulked up for the New Year Basho and is is aiming to match or improve on the impressive 11-4 record he had in the November meet where he was awarded the Technique Prize.
Tamawashi Conquers Compatriot Kiribayama in Do-Over
In the rematch, 38-year-old Tamawashi, a No. 2 maegashira, prevailed when he used a spectacular thrust-down technique after being shoved back to the brink by his younger compatriot.
Komusubi Kiribayama, 26, is one of sumo's bright up-and-coming grapplers but he was given a lesson by the wily veteran.
No. 3 maegashira Abi surprised many in the sumo world when he won the Kyushu tournament after prevailing in a rare three-way playoff on the final day.
Daieisho Outmuscles Takayasu
Takayasu was one of Abi's victims in the November meet and suffered a crushing head blow in the playoff but appears no worse for wear.
Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles here.