The big story lines were looking for prior to the basho are still mostly intact. The drama of Takakeisho grind to 10 is immensely captivating, and each match is another yawning chasm with a potential start of a rank-breaking losing streak on one side, and a career limiting re-injury on the other. Frankly, if he crosses the threshold of 10, I think the sumo world will erupt in jubilation.
Perhaps more compelling is Tochinoshin’s fight to clear kadoban. He is clearly in a good amount of pain, but mounts the dohyo each day and gives it everything he can. The day 3 win against a quite genki and potent Hokutofuji may in fact be the point where he decides he does still have the strength of a bear, that has the strength of 2 bears. That the path is steep and painful, but he is strong enough to climb.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Takagenji vs Azumaryu – I an not sure what happened to Takagenji, but it seems to be the sumo equivalent of a banana in his tail-pipe. It’s not that he is showing tepid sumo, but he just cant manage to win. He holds a 2-1 career record over Azumaryu, but I think he is highly distracted by his twin brother’s troubles.
Tsurugisho vs Yutakayama – Yeah baby, now this is more like it. Yutakayama tend to dominate their matches, and I think he’s fairly genki this time out. It will be a clash of styles for the second match of the day, and win #3 for one of these rikishi.
Kagayaki vs Tochiozan – Much like Yoshikaze before him, Tochiozan still has the moves and the skill, but he can’t execute them at speed, or with effective power. I am going to look for Kagayaki to carry this one by keeping Tochiozan responding rather than attacking.
Ishiura vs Nishikigi – As one of our commenters pointed out, Ishiura seems to have regained some of his “scary dude”, muscular form. His advantage over Nishikigi – visual acuity! He needs to stay mobile and prevent Nishikigi from grabbing a hold of any part of his body, which will be used to anchor him in place.
Toyonoshima vs Daishoho – Both winless, a tough start to September for both of them. To my eye Toyonoshima looks hurt. Some kind of achy back / hips / shoulder sort of thing that keeps him from really putting all of his energy into his sumo.
Shohozan vs Enho – Fans who have enjoyed their jungyo series are going to be crazy with anticipation of this match. These two battled it out with vigor and creativity daily on the summer tour, and it was in fact a daily highlight. (Everyone thank Herouth for putting those together). Now we get it for honbasho, and I for one can’t wait.
Onosho vs Meisei – Onosho has yet to win one form Meisei, ever (0-4). The “red terror” is still working to get his sumo in order, so I am going to look for another day in the dirt for Onosho.
Sadanoumi vs Kotoyuki – For some perverse reason, I have this urge to see Kotoyuki really do well this time out. Something about him is at both times worrisome and comical, much like a Batman villain.
Okinoumi vs Takarafuji – Perhaps the most balanced and equal match of the day. The two perennial median rikishi go up against each other, and I would say that their sumo will average out.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – I had to double check, but Kotoeko comes into this match with ZERO wins. Both of these men are under-performing thus far for September. Is it ring rust? Termintes? A lack of sleep?
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoshogiku – If Kotoshogiku can survive the canon-ball tachiai and get a belt grip, we will see some fun sumo today. But it’s a 13-2 advantage for the Kyushu Bulldozer.
Myogiryu vs Ryuden – Both are at the outer edges of the top of Makuuchi, and seem to be using this opportunity to hone their sumo. Both are further along in their careers, and both have a long roster of matches to their name. I do think that Ryuden is working towards another San’yaku push for Kyushu, and that he has a good chance of getting there. Myogiryu is going to want to keep Ryuden from getting to his left side, if at all possible to keep himself in charge of the match.
Shimanoumi vs Shodai – First time match between these two, and I think that Shodai is increasing the amount of chaos he generates each day. At some point it may open a portal to another point in the multiverse, and Yokozuna Shodai will step through to take charge.
Daieisho vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi had bee strong the first two days, but was surprisingly fragile on day 3. I continue to think that the drive and energy that Daieisho is bringing to the dohyo every day is going to pay off, and probably keep paying off once it starts.
Asanoyama vs Endo – Well now, what have we here. Both men will go for the mawashi. Asanoyama with a lot of strength and a lot of vigor. Endo will come with skill and plans A,B,C and D. I do hope this is not a cheap and flimsy pull down / slap down match.
Mitakeumi vs Aoiyama – I know some fans are worried that Big Dan Aoiyama is not quite up to his normal genki self. I think he’s just scraping off his ring rust. Luckily for him, some of his toughest matches are going to be at the start, and maybe once he hits his stride he will have a lot of more even fights. Mitakeumi is a perpetual enigma, the guy can produce, but seems to forever be in a week 2 fade that robs him of any chance of Ozeki.
Tomokaze vs Takakeisho – Another first time match, and I do hope that Ozekiwake Takakeisho is dialed into Tomokaze’s approach the last 2 matches. Thus far the Grand Tadpole has shown himself to be keeping his weight centered, and able to withstand multiple, sequential pull down / slap down attempts. Who in the Tachiai readership hope that Tomokaze knocks off the cheap sumo and take the fight to Takakeisho? (raises hand)
Hokutofuji vs Goeido – Goeido is terribly streaky, many basho his first loss seems to instill a confidence crisis in our longest-serving Ozeki, and he will drop a few in a row. I know that Hokutofuji can give him the business. But I would love to see Goeido genki for this basho.
Tochinoshin vs Abi – Each one of these will continue to be a nail biter. Abi has gotten the jump on Tochinoshin before, but I think the Georgian’s day 3 win may have injected some much needed can-do genki into his outlook. The skycrane still works, lets see it!
Kakuryu vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo does tend to be “soft” against Kakuryu, maybe it’s realization that Big-K and put him in the dirt with a dozen different moves, or maybe its out of respect for Kakuryu himself. I expect he will give a vigorous defense followed by Kakuryu’s 4th win, and everyone leaves the Kokugikan satisfied and happy.