Welcome to the end of act 1! Yes, dear readers, we are about to be ⅓ ofd the way through this wonderful festival of sumo in Nagoya. The purpose, once again, of act 1 is to knock the ring rust off of the rikishi and get everyone into tournament mode. We also start to get an idea about who is genki, and who is suffering. I think heading into day 5. we can say with some certainty:
- Kakuryu – Looking surprisingly good. I think I can say that because so many times Kakuryu is clearly hurt and can not really execute his rather unique style of sumo. So far he’s using it to great effect.
- Hakuho – As we suspected prior to the bashso, The Boss is back, he’s reset and he’s fighting well enough to dominate every match he enters.
- Tomokaze – A pleasant surprise, the risking star from Oguruma heya has shown some really notable versatility
- Terutsuyoshi – After a pair of 6-9 results that resulted in some amazing banzuke luck, and him remaining in the top division, Terutsuyoshi seems to have his sumo back, and he’s on his way to a solid basho in Nagoya
- Tochinoshin – Very worrisome in that he just cleared his Ozekiwake exile status. He’s hurt, he’s fighting as best he can, but he’s really not up to Ozeki level sumo.
- Tamawashi – I have to assume injury here too. Tamawashi is too consistently powerful to start 0-4.
- Meisei – Meisei is better than this, so don’t be surprised if he ends up pulling out a 7-8 or 8-7 final.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Yago vs Terutsuyoshi – This match does not seem like it would be close, you have the hulking Yago going up against pixie Terutsuyoshi. But their career record is 5-4, surprisingly even. I would expect that now that Terutsuyoshi seems to have gotten his sumo back, we are going to see some high-agility speed action from Terutsuyoshi, and we are going to see a struggling 2-2 Yago trying to keep him still.
Toyonoshima vs Kotoyuki – Toyonoshima finally picked up a win, and there was much rejoicing. Kotoyuki still seems a bit unfocused, but he looks like his sumo is working better than his last trip to the top division, which was January, and ended with a 4-11 result.
Chiyomaru vs Kaisei – A pair of super-heavies who have only 2 wins between them, and 6 losses. Both need to turn things around, but sadly for Kaisei, it may be down to injuries.
Tochiozan vs Enho – We all want Enho to win doing some acrobatic crazy man sumo. So let’s just see if Tochiozan’s experience will leave him distracted or give him to tools to efficiently shut down Enho’s antics.
Sadanoumi vs Nishikigi – To Nishikigi, Sadanoumi is just another blurry mess. But he has a good record of grabbing a hold of the green mawashi blur and pushing it off the dohyo (9-5). Let’s hope the gyoji does not wear green today.
Kagayaki vs Takagenji – Takagenji got his first taste of Nagoya clay on day 4, and I am willing to say that I think Kagayaki is getting into his sumo now, and we are likely to see some good, fundamental but possibly unexciting sumo from him. Given how Takagenji has been focusing on strong, efficient yotzu-sumo, it may shut down Kagayaki’s movement oriented offense.
Shohozan vs Daishoho – At 35 years old, Shohozan has to be on watch to “age out” of the top division at some point. He’s lacked some of the brutal sumo we have come to expect from him of late. Like Okinoumi, they seem to be hanging around, and we don’t mind at all, as long as they can still execute quality sumo.
Kotoeko vs Okinoumi – Kotoeko has never beaten Okinoumi, and comes into day 5 on a 2 bout losing streak. While Okinoumi stays in a “not too genki, not too weak” lane very well to keep his rank in the middle ⅓ of the top division, I don’t expect he will pick up his 4th loss today.
Myogiryu vs Tomokaze – Yes Myogiryu is fighting well, and his sumo looks really sharp. But something about Tomokaze is really clicking right now. So I would expect him to have the advantage in this day 5 match between two rikishi who are doing well.
Onosho vs Shimanoumi – Both of these men need to regroup. Onosho is encrusted with poor balance or some kind of metastasized ring-rust. Shimanoumi is looking dangerously out of his competence zone. We all want him to rise to the challenges of mid-Maegashira, but maybe its too soon.
Kotoshogiku vs Takarafuji – Kotoshogiku seem to have paid a heavy price for discarding caution in his day 4 match, but that won’t be a problem day 5. A match against Takarafuji is typically a study in careful planning and execution. Unless Takarafuji is fighting Ichinojo, then it’s a couple of minutes of “No, Bad Pony!”
Chiyotairyu vs Ichinojo – Lets just admit that we all want to see Ichinojo slap Chiyotairyu around like he did Takarafuji on day 4. Maybe to the point where Chiyotairyu thinks he has enough and goes to fall down, but Ichinojo holds him up and smacks him a couple more times. Not that I don’t really like Chiyotairyu, because I do. But something about super bad, “Pulp Fiction” style Ichinojo is rather compelling.
Shodai vs Meisei – Meisei is winless, and has never beaten Shodai. So… Shodai… When is Shodai vs “Royale with Cheese” Ichinojo?.
Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Oh please Tamawashi, come back to us! Like so many of the beloved main-stays, you seem to be aging out with the rest of your cohort at the same time. Just a win. Just one to start with.
Mitakeumi vs Hokutofuji – Ok screw the old guys. The young bucks are going to bash the daylights out of each other. You may look at the stats and say (in your best sumo snob voice), “Well, of course – Mitakeumi is favored”. Not today. Hokutofuji has been fighting like a man possessed against the best in the business for the last 4 days, and today he’s against someone closer to his ability. I think there is a lot of pent up frustration that will express itself. In the form of hitting.
Goeido vs Ryuden – Ryuden stands a fair chance of giving Goeido the now famous “Paper Jam In Tray 2” treatment, if he can survive Goeido’s opening gambit.
Asanoyama vs Tochinoshin – I think Asanoyama’s so far limited experience is going to have him willingly go chest to chest with Tochinoshin, and we may see Tochinoshin finally get his first win.
Abi vs Takayasu – Takayasu will need to be steady, stable and patient with Abi. It should only take a few second for the Ozeki to overpower Abi’s right hand side, and the Takayasu owns the match.
Endo vs Hakuho – Is there any chance that The Boss could beat Endo twice? Enjoy the ride, Golden Boy.
Kakuryu vs Aoiyama – Aoiyama has displayed absolutely outstanding mobility and agility thus far, which is baffling when you consider his size. But I think Kakuryu is healthy, and The Man-Mountain is not going to score a kinboshi today.