Day for saw both Ozeki lose again, and both Yokozuna take no chances with their upstart competitors. We still have Ishiura blazing ahead without a single loss, and frankly he has been showing us some of the best sumo of his career. You know who else has 4 wins at the end of today? Shimanoumi! The Kise stable rikishi (which includes Ura, Tokushoryu and Gagamaru) quietly has been executing near flawless sumo. How long can he keep his form? No telling, but after day 4 he is already half way to a kachi-koshi.
Nishikigi (3-1) defeats Kotoshoho (1-3) Oshidashi – I am going to say that maybe the ring rust has been scrubbed clean of Nishikigi. His poor eyesight requires his sumo to be chest to chest to have any chance of winning, and the training restrictions robbed him of much needed time to hone his skills prior to day 1. Kotoshoho launched hard at the tachiai, straight into Nishikigi’s chest, and granting him a right arm bar from the start. Now pinned to his opponent, Kotoshoho struggled to generate offense. After struggling to do something with his other hand, Nishikigi gave into the scenario and used Kotoshoho’s arm like a handle on a noisy teapot, pouring him out of the ring.
Kotoyuki (3-1) defeats Chiyomaru (1-3) Oshidashi – When two thrusters meet, it’s assured there will be a lot of hitting. Kotoyuki was early at the tachiai, and found Chiyomaru’s chest wide open. A double arm thrust against Chiyomaru’s neck was answered with a right arm to Kotoyuki’s face that snapped his head back. Kotoyuki drove lower and put both arms in front of him and charged. A more maneuverable rikishi (most assuredly NOT Chiyomaru) would have stepped to the side and won the match, but with the turning radius measured in kilometers per bowl of curry, the giant in the green mawashi absorbed the full measure, and promptly stepped out.
Wakatakakage (3-1) defeats Kotoeko (2-2) Uwatenage – Kotoeko took the tachiai, but he was clearly braced into a defensive position, accepting Wakatakakage lead of the match. Kotoeko tried for a left hand outside grip, but ran into Wakatakakage’s ottsuke, but his right hand pressed hard against Wakatakakage’s chest. As Wakatakakage gave ground, he pivoted and used Kotoeko’s trapped arm to unleash the throw. Fast, smooth and quite satisfying. After an opening day loss, the highest ranking Onami brother has a solid 3-1 start to the tournament.
Kotoshogiku (3-1) defeats Takayasu (3-1) Yorikiri – Given Takayasu’s 3-0 start, I expected him to dominate Kotoshogiku. But with these two legends meeting on the dohyo for their 28th time, both of them were in less than optimum health. Takayasu tried to stay mobile, but was captured by Kotoshogiku perilously close to the edge. A few hip pumps later, and Takayasu had his first loss of the tournament. Had there been a crowd in the Kokugikan for day 4, they would have been shaking the rafters with their cheers.
Kotonowaka (1-3) defeats Terunofuji (0-4) Oshidashi – I am starting to think that Terunofuji may be captaining the Juryo barge this time. Wether it was the lack of full contact practice, or a flare up with his medical problems, he just can’t seem to muster the last 10% needed to win. After a fierce struggle for control at the tachiai, Kotonowaka got him on the run and pinned him to the tawara. A quick shove finished him off. Terunofuji still winless at 0-4.
Shimanoumi (4-0) defeats Shohozan (1-3) Oshitaoshi – Shohozan telegraphed his battle plan with a blistering right hand slap to the face at the tachiai. While dramatic and grand, it seemed to have cost him valuable position as Shimanoumi drove under the strike, gaining the inside position. While Shohozan responded with a series of large blows to Shimanoumi’s upper body, Shohozan was being forced to give ground. He rallied at the bales and reversed, with a right hand inside he pushed Shimanoumi to the shikiri-sen. Shimanoumi found his strength, arrested the retreat and drove forward with everything he had. Shohozan made a strong stand at the tawara, but ultimately Shimanoumi fell forward atop Shohozan, sending the “Big Guns” sprawling down the edge of the dohyo.
Sadanoumi (3-1) defeats Tochinoshin (1-3) Tsukiotoshi – I am never a big fan of pulling moves, but there are times when they deliver a win. Tochinoshin was expecting Sadanoumi’s lightning tachiai, but instead of an inside attack he found Sadanoumi’s right hand on his shoulder, thrusting him down as he deflected Tochinoshin’s charge. The poor guy is struggling, it’s clear, and we hope he can rally.
Myogiryu (2-2) defeats Tamawashi (1-3) Oshitaoshi – Dead even tachiai, with both rikishi going for each other’s faces. They stood center-ring for a time, thrusting against each other until Tamawashi was able to break Myogiryu’s defenses, and moved him back. Thrusting in series, volley after volley pushed Myogiryu around the ring. Tamawashi broke contact, and the two glared at each other for a moment across the center of the dohyo. Then Myogiryu lunged forward, gripping Tamawashi’s chest and drove him bodily to the clay, landing with a wet thud that may have winded Tamawashi.
Kaisei (2-2) defeats Ikioi (0-4) Oshidashi – Take the most beat up, wounded guy in sumo, and make him fight a South American giant.. twice? I thought Ikioi had the first match, but it was too close to call as he and Kaisei went down together as Kaisei’s attempt to throw Ikioi collapsed. The Shimpan spent a good while on the dohyo, and I personally thought they were discussing where to get dinner. But once that matter was settled, they said, “Eh, rematch”. Clearly Ikioi had thrown everything he had into the first match, and Kaisei made quick work of him the second time. His 0-4 start to the tournament is quite depressing.
Terutsuyoshi (2-2) defeats Chiyotairyu (2-2) Yorikiri – Chiyotairyu’s cannon ball tachiai met token resistance from Terutsuyoshi who sacrificed forward pressure to get a shallow left hand grip. This is no easy task given the girth of Chiyotairyu’s belly. But the left hand found it’s mark, and Chiyotairyu’s could find no way to shake the smaller rikishi. His attempts left his limited stamina drained, and Terutsuyoshi pushed him out while barely keeping his feet.
Ishiura (4-0) defeats Tokushoryu (3-1) Tsukiotoshi – The Ishiura hype machine rolls on, as he takes down Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu. With so much of his mass forward of the center line, Tokushoryu can be an easy mark to thrust down if you can get him forward. A hit and shift at the tachiai left Ishiura with an opening, and he took to to win the match. With a 4-0 start, Ishiura is really impressing me right now.
Abi (2-2) defeats Ryuden (2-2) Oshidashi – That’s more like it! Abi-zumo finds its mark, and Ryuden has no real answer to a hand in his face follow by a thrust to his shoulder. With Abi dancing like a stick insect on hot pavement, Ryuden never had a chance to set up any defense. Both men finish the day at 2-2.
Enho (1-3) defeats Hokutofuji (2-2) Yorikiri – Enho finally scores his first win. Hokutofuji was all defense at the tachiai, but Enho dove under and took hold of Hokutofuji’s silver mawashi. Trying to swat him down, Hokutofuji’s raised arms opened the door to morozashi, and Enho happily obliged. Now mostly defenseless, Hokutofuji tried to use his size to stop Enho’s advance, but this only raised his his higher, giving Enho all the leverage he needed to march Hokutofuji out like some oversized parcel.
Aoiyama (2-2) defeats Takarafuji (1-3) Kotenage – This one was sealed at the tachiai, as Big Dan Aoiyama put his hands on Takarafuji’s ribs and lifted. With Takarafuji’s left arm inside, he reacted by reaching for a grip. Aoiyama pivoted to his left, dropping Takarafuji immediately to the clay. Not often we see Aoiyama win with a throw.
Onosho (1-3) defeats Okinoumi (0-4) Oshidashi – Onosho finally puts his first win on the board, but its at the expense of winless Okinoumi. Okinoumi worked hard to blunt Onosho’s thrusting attack, but Onosho focused relentlessly on center mass. Much better balance from him today, and he looked to be back in form.
Kagayaki (3-1) defeats Shodai (2-2) Yorikiri – We saw Shodai trying out Kakuryu’s reactive sumo again today. Kagayaki came in low and strong at the tachiai, and Shodai stood to absorb rather than return the charge. While Shodai drove his hands inside to seek out a grip, Kagayaki reached outside with both arms to envelope Shodai. With his arms beside Shodai, he lifted up and complete disrupted Shodai’s work to get a grip, setting him to his heels. In the blink of an eye, Kagayaki had a double inside morozashi grip, and quickly dropped his hips and finished the match. Although it’s his second loss, Shodai is looking very good this tournament.
Mitakeumi (3-1) defeats Kiribayama (1-3) Yorikiri – Upstart rising star Kiribayama took a mawashi load of Nagoya hustle today, as Mitakeumi bagged, him, tagged him, and send him out. The tachiai was a skull to skull crack of bones, but Mitakeumi seemed completely unfazed, and drove inside, thrusting against Kiribayama’s chest. Kiribayama responded with blows to Mitakeumi’s face, which were ultimately ineffective. Mitakeumi bodily grabbed Kiribayama and took him over the bales, racking up his 3rd win. If we could see this kind of energy and drive from Mitakeumi every day, he would have been Ozeki already.
Endo (1-3) defeats Takakeisho (2-2) Hatakikomi – I cheered, even though I am dead set on seeing Takakeisho clear kadoban and affirm his Ozeki rank. But after the pounding he took in the prior 3 days, it’s heartening to see that he’s taking it one day at a time, and shows up to fight each day with a fresh perspective. Endo is a master strategist, and I suspect he even has a multi-pronged plan for using the toilet. While Takakeisho has worked hard on his balance, his ballooning weight has given him trouble given his comparatively small feet. Endo took good advantage of this by standing the Ozeki up, and slapping him to the clay moments after the tachiai. Solid battle plan from Endo today, and a well deserved win.
Daieisho (3-1) defeats Asanoyama (2-2) Tsukidashi – Daieisho continues to be a giant killer, and today he unloaded a broadside on Asanoyama. While Asanoyama worked for grip, Daieisho kept up the pressure with volley after volley of thrusts. Unable to generate any yotsu offense, Asanoyama dug back into his past to try out his oshi-zumo techniques, but found himself without any room to work. He tumbled out of the ring and landed rolling away from the ring.
Hakuho (4-0) defeats Takanosho (3-1) Hatakikomi – I am going to guess that Hakuho took one look at Takanosho’s performance on day 3 against Kakuryu, and decided he was not going to give a young, strong rikishi on a hot streak any chance to try his luck. A face slap at the tachiai followed my an immediate clay facial courtesy of a well placed left hand on the back of Takanosho’s neck. Tough lesson for a the future, Takanosho!
Kakuryu (3-1) defeats Yutakayama (1-3) Uwatedashinage – Following his embarrassing loss to Takanosho on day 3, Kakuryu took no chances with the “Big Unit” and dispensed with his normal reactive sumo. An immediate left hand inside grip shut down most of Yutakayama’s offense. A step back and a pivot to the left and Yutakayama was rolling on the clay. Solid win for the Yokozuna today.