With day 3 behind us, we can all hope that everyone who has survived thus far has gotten their rusty sumo techniques old and working, and the basho proper can get underway. With just 3 days complete, no one’s record is beyond recovery, and everyone still has a kachi-koshi as a possible outcome.
I beg and pray that the Aki blood bath is complete, but something tells me we will lose one or two more. Tamawashi looked like balls today, and his damaged ankle will likely keep him from doing much real sumo for at least a few days. He may still end up declaring himself kyujo before day 15.
The real story in the first three days, besides the injuries, is the strength of the new group of rikishi who are really blasting everything they have faced this far. This includes Daieisho, Onosho and Takakeisho. It’s far too early to talk about the yusho, but it’s possible one of these guys might be in contention during the second week.
One thing of note, with so many rikishi out, the entire torikumi has gotten much shorter.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Tokushoryu vs. Asanoyama – Tokushoryu has had a really poor showing this basho, and on day 4 he is taking on Asanoyama, who seems to be really having a great time and doing fairly well. This is a first meeting between these two men. Tokushoryu has yet to win a single match, so at some point soon, he is going to get really eager to win by almost any means he can.
Endo vs. Yutakayama – Endo seems to be well enough to handle lower Maegashira opponents, and the sumo world is glad for it. There is hope that he can continue to strengthen and improve, and possible return to some of his former glory. Yutakayama is having a bit of a rough ride in his first basho in the top division, but that is not unusual.
Daieisho vs. Kaisei – Daieisho is so far unbeaten, and he faces a resurgent Kaisei, who is a bit stronger than I expected. Is it just me, or did he drop some weight too? He had gotten horribly large, and I think it diminished his sumo. Daieisho won their only prior encounter.
Takanoiwa vs. Takekaze – Takanoiwa is also unbeaten, interestingly enough, and on day 4 he takes on Takekaze, who has yet to win any match during Aki. Takekaze is not looking overly energetic thus far, so maybe he will wake up and show us at least a majestic henka on day 4.
Kagayaki vs. Takakeisho – Kagayaki is another of the “no wins yet” crew, and he faces a really energetic and highly combative Takakeisho, who has yet to lose. It’s strange to note, that in their 3 prior matches, Takakeisho has yet to beat Kagayaki once.
Shohozan vs. Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu’s extra mass seems to have really complimented his sumo, and his opponents are having a difficult time blunting his attacks. But his day 4 match against “Big Guns” Shohozan may be a new story. It’s possible that Shohozan could bench press Chiyotairyu on a good day. Chiyotairyu leads the series 3-2.
Mitakeumi vs. Tamawashi – Mitakeumi needs to continue bouncing back, and Tamawashi is hurt. I don’t doubt that Tamawashi is going to put up a huge fight, but if Mitakeumi is going to make a play to keep his Sekiwake rank (let along start an Ozeki campaign), he needs to start dominating now.
Kotoshogiku vs. Yoshikaze – These matches between these two are one sided in Kotoshogiku’s favor. Plus it seems that Yoshikaze is flagging for multiple reasons (none of which I know). So I am going to expect Kotoshogiku to win this one, and maybe Yoshikaze start’s bouncing back on day 5.
Terunofuji vs. Onosho – Now this one is interesting, the big Ozeki against the angry tadpole. It’s time for Onosho to test himself against a fairly capable Ozeki class rikishi. Granted, Terunofuji is not at full health, but it’s a great test.
Tochinoshin vs. Goeido – Henka probably won’t work for Goeido today, so I expect him to actually have to use some sumo against Tochinoshin. Tochinoshin has beaten him a few times, but Goeido really needs to line up the wins and clear the kadoban flag sooner rather than later.
Hokutofuji vs. Harumafuji – I am sure Harumafuji will be aggressive, focused and unless the gyoji whacks him with the war-fan, he’s not going to stop no matter what. Now, Hokutofuji, is certain to give him a good, solid fight, and I have hopes that this match can be a real contest.