On the back of Herouth’s excellent write up, everyone is waiting to see which path Kisenosato will take as the days of the Kyushu basho tick by. As of the moment this is being written, it looks like he will gamberize and stay to course, continuing to compete each day. Of the 3 losses that mark his inauspicious start for the Kyushu basho, 2 of them are the kind of matches that a Yokozuna should clearly win. This will be difficult, but not impossible, for him to live down.
Am I calling for him to retire? Not even close. Kisenosato’s story has been an epic push to the top, and his 10-5 return at Aki was quite frankly a shocking surprise. Now stuck between poor performance, his duty as the only Yokozuna, and the high probability that the pressure on him to retire, I fully think he will choose to go out guns blazing.
Even if he struggles and stays in the tournament, his stable-mate Ozeki Takayasu is clearly the man to catch. This basho will likely be a crazy mad-cap runaway beer truck, careening down a mountain road with no breaks. As much of a brutal trench battle that Aki was, this one may be a daily dose of, “Dear lord, what next?”. [We all love your mixed metaphors. –PinkMawashi]
What We Are Watching Day 4
Onosho vs Daishomaru – Coming off of his day 3 loss, Onosho is going to be facing the capable Daishomaru who is also bringing a 2-1 record. The difference, I think, is intensity. Onosho seems to have about 80% of his old intensity back, and for this far down the banzuke, that is fairly dominant.
Takanosho vs Endo – Endo is off to a poor start, but his first ever match against Takanosho may give him a chance to even up his score. Given the 1-2 record this far down the banzuke, we can assume that Endo is continuing to nurse injuries, most likely a continuation of the knee injury he suffered at Natsu this year.
Okinoumi vs Yutakayama – Yutakayama seems to be continuing his horrific slide that started with an injury at Aki. Thus far he has yet to rack a single win, and he faces off against seasoned veteran Okinoumi, whom he has never beaten. It’s a bit early to start wondering if the bright young Yutakayama will be returning to Juryo before he starts to improve, but for his fans that has to be a worry.
Kotoshogiku vs Sadanoumi – The Kyushu Bulldozer and former Ozeki Kotoshogiku continues to hold his own at Maegashira 8, and it’s really great to see the crowd cheer him on. Sadanoumi has yet to lose, and has his best start since he won the Juryo Yusho at Osaka this year.
Abi vs Takarafuji – It’s been surprising how many opponents have tried to thrust against Takarafuji’s stump of neck this basho. Given Abi’s tendencies towards that end, we may see if he can “Find Takarafuji’s neck with both hands”. Takarafuji has looked sluggish since Nagoya, and while still competent, he is not inspiring right now.
Takanoiwa vs Ikioi – Ikioi’s sumo is in shambles right now. He can’t seem to muster effective offense, and his ability to resist pressure from an opponent is near zero. Takanoiwa seems to be off his sumo as well, so this may be the kind of match where you can nip off to the yakitori stand or the toilet.
Shohozan vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has said in prior interviews that he is aiming for the top, and sumo fans applaud that. His focus on mastery of sumo fundaments is undeniable, but the Maegashira 6 range may be as far as that can take him. He holds a solid career advantage over Shohozan, so this may be a chance to even up at 2-2, but he does not seem to be “dialed in” yet.
Asanoyama vs Yoshikaze – Asanoyama gets a good chance to pick up his first ever win against Yoshikaze, who, in spite of being in front of his local fans, seems to be at a much lower level of genki than we saw in Aki. Asanoyama on the other hand seems to be off to a solid start.
Takakeisho vs Shodai – Takakeisho is certainly dialed in to his sumo right now, and everyone is giving him plenty of time to set up and execute the attack waves until he wins. This is going to be fun to contrast with Shodai’s use of cartoon physics, which seems to be surprisingly potent. The good thing is that Shodai’s tachiai continues to improve.
Mitakeumi vs Myogiryu – Maybe I have become far too jaded, but I have to wonder if Mitakeumi is just going through the motions. He lost his Ozeki run last time, and now he’s kind of plodding around. Yes, he is 2-1 to start, but I would also say his sumo looks a step slower than at Aki. Myogiryu should savor his win over Kisenosato, because he may take a lot of pounding until he’s done being a San’yaku chew toy.
Hokutofuji vs Ichinojo – If Ichinojo does not snap-to, I can’t help but hope this is the basho he gives up that Sekiwake slot. He was phoning it in during Aki, and he’s been phoning it in again now. With any luck, Hokutofuji is well motivated after his kinboshi and gives the Boulder a roll down the side of the dohyo.
Nishikigi vs Takayasu – Nishikigi’s tachiais have looked so tentative and almost apologetic. He goes up against the man who blasts off the line each and every time. I feel a bit of remorse for the guy, and hope that he exits Kyushu with enough working parts to remain married.
Goeido vs Tamawashi – Speaking of phoning it in, Goeido had a good first day, then he has been a sloppy mess since. Tamawashi’s time in the kitchen gives him a lot of practice with a sloppy mess, and I am going to guess Goeido will be caught trying to improvise once more.
Kisenosato vs Tochiozan – Do we have to? I have to think at some point even Kisenosato will try to save face. Tochiozan is a well known foe. They have had 41 matches, of which Kisenosato has taken 26. That would be the healthy Kisenosato. The broken one who is struggling to generate forward pressure might be untested against Tochiozan, and frankly I hate to watch.