Young Blood Creating An Exciting Dynamic
Video from this Nagoya basho always features one thing in every shot – the crowd desperately fanning themselves. I had heard that this event was a hot, sweaty and sticky affair. On top of that, Japan has turned it’s heat and formidable humidity to 11. The greatest and most troubling manifestation of Japan’s tropical tendencies are the catastrophic rain in western Japan, including parts of Kyushu and extreme western Honshu.
While the discomfort for the fans in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium is quite real, the heat endured by the athletes is even more extreme. Within the dohyo awning suspended from the ceiling, There is a battery of high intensity flood lamps, cameras and microphones. These lamps are meant to light the action, and easily raise the temperature on the dohyo by 10°. So if you wonder why the rikishi are drenched in sweat when you see them either exit the arena, or in the interview room after a bout, this plays a significant part.
As anticipated, the placement of so many strong, healthy and new rikishi this high in the banzuke is creating some unpredictable results in the first third of Nagoya. Readers of this site know that it is my theory that any basho follows a fairly predictable evolution, that can be thought of as 5 day “thirds”. The first third is the warm up, the second is the heart of the competition, where you see who is hot and who is not, and the final third determines the yusho. The roster of who is in Makuuchi has been surprisingly stable for at least a year, and so the pace and contests within each day’s torikumi can feel almost familiar.
With this much new talent in the top Maegashira, it’s a surprise each day. First time match up coupled with raw talent, uninjured rikishi scrapping to make their mark on the sport they will likely dominate for the next decade or so. Let the chaos cauldron continue to boil! Nagoya is just getting started!
Matches We Like
Nishikigi vs Chiyomaru – Both have started the basho with two wins, and both are Maegashira 15. Looks like it’s time to sort these two on the clay.
Arawashi vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji as never lost to Arawashi, but Arawashi has won his first two bouts of the basho. I would expect that Arawashi will need to do something to escape Takarafuji superior reach and complete lack of neck.
Aoiyama vs Ishiura – Classic sumo big man / little man match. We have yet to see any real sumo from Ishiura this tournament, and it would warm the hearts of many fans to see these two provide a good battle. This is, in fact, their first match.
Ichinojo vs Onosho – Another big man / little man match, Onosho has really been high energy and dangerous since May. As always Ichinojo is hit or miss. Another of the great first ever meetings between these two.
Ura vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has been struggling to get his sumo running in Nagoya. Now he is up against Ura, who has dialed back the acrobatics and is winning with solid sumo fundamentals. Perhaps today Ura will unleash some of his non newtonian physics for the fans.
Tamawashi vs Yoshikaze – Both rikishi are coming into the match with two win starts, and this one could be one of the better matches of the day. Yoshikaze has been surprisingly deliberate in his two prior wins. Tamawashi has been unleashing explosive sumo from the start, and making it work. Their career match ups are essentially even, so this could be a real battle.
Mitakeumi vs Goeido – Mitakeumi has only beaten Goeido once before, but Mitakeumi could care less. Mitakeumi is starting to remind me of a Honey Badger now. Goeido is getting into a really troublesome mode right now, I had jokingly nominated him for kadoban, but he seems to be on a fast track this time.
Terunofuji vs Ikioi – One could imagine a healthy Terunofuji would stop by the Ryogoku McDonalds for some dipping sauce to enjoy with what was left of Ikioi. But it’s clear that the big Ozeki is injured. Ikioi could really use the win, so it will be somewhat unpleasant to see what happens here. Surprisingly, Ikioi leads their career bout record 7-2.
Takayasu vs Kotoshogiku – Another cringe inducing match. As we stated before we hate watching Kotoshogiku suffer, but he insists on turning up to compete. But for Takayasu, he needs to settle down and produce Ozeki class result. Hopefully Ojisan Kotoshogiku will provide him with a good match.
Takakeisho vs Harumafuji – We can assume after the first two days that Harumafuji has some medical / mechanical issues in Nagoya. The question is does he soldier on? Takakeisho is a big mystery here, this is their first ever match, and he is both nervous and fired up.
Hakuho vs Shodai – The boss is looking for win #1039 on his march to the record. Shodai will likely provide some contest for a few seconds, but I expect Hakuho to dispatch him. Short of injury, Hakuho is making the case that he will be the man to beat.
Hokutofuji vs Kakuryu – Another potential for a great match. These two are meeting for the first time, and we will have two rikishi who have mass, strength and a great defensive approach to sumo. Sure Hokutofuji can implement a masterful attack, but I am expecting to recognize that a match with Big K is going to be a game of cat and mouse.
Kisenosato vs Tochinoshin – Someone is going to really hurt Kisenosato, I fear. And with the overwhelming strength of Tochinoshin, I fear this could be the match that unleashes agony for the Yokozuna and the Japanese sumo loving public. If The Great Pumpkin can make it through this match and even win, it would do a lot to shut people like me up, who think his current left arm is some cutting edge robotic attachment from the labs at Tohoku University.