I have to wonder about Terunofuji. His return to the top division was celebrated by most sumo fans. But he has failed to look remotely competitive so far. He has a roster of health, and mechanical problems with his body, any one (or a combination) of them could be hampering his sumo. The long period of no practice bouts probably de-conditioned him to the point where some of his problems (like his diabetes) may have flared up.
When his body cooperates, he can still generate some great power moves, but we have yet to see that this May. We hope whatever is troubling him, he can bounce back this tournament, or be able to recover enough to turn in a winning record in the next. But at this rate he is going to not just be the first man on the juryo barge, they may make him pull it down the Sumida river.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Kotoshoho (1-2) vs Nishikigi (2-1) – They two had a single match, dating to Nishikigi’s time in Juryo purgatory. It was a day 15 match during Hatsu 2020. Nishikigi won that match with a kotenage after getting his preferred arm-bar hold on Kotoshoho. Right now, to my eye, Nishikigi is fighting pretty well, and it will come down to if he can latch on to Kotoshoho, or if Kotoshoho can stay mobile.
Kotoyuki (2-1) vs Chiyomaru (1-2) – Two “wide body” pusher / thruster rikishi, this could be a war blows right from the start. So far Kotoyuki has yet to take one of his famous victory jogs through the zabuton, but I think it’s a lot less entertaining when the cushions are all unused. Their career record is tied at 4-4.
Kotoeko (2-1) vs Wakatakakage (2-1) – Kotoeko has Wakatakakage’s number. In fact in the prior 3 matches, Wakatakakage has yet to win a single contest. Kotoeko’s last victory was a tsukiotoshi in Osaka in the empty stadium. They come in with matching 2-1 records for the tournament.
Takayasu (3-0) vs Kotoshogiku (2-1) – A battle of the broken former Ozeki. Will it be the one with one bad knee or two bad knees that triumphs? 27 career matches, and Takayasu narrowly leads 15-12. It may come down to Kotoshogiku pinning that supposedly injured left elbow down, and getting Takayasu off balance.
Terunofuji (0-3) vs Kotonowaka (0-3) – The only good thing that come from this match is that one of these two winless rikishi will exit the day with their first white star. It’s also a first time meeting. I am holding onto hopes that Terunofuji can get his sumo running, and can start to fight back from this 0-3 start.
Shimanoumi (3-0) vs Shohozan (1-2) – Shimanoumi is starting in excellent form, and hey may go 4-0 today, given that he has only dropped 1 match out of their 4 prior bouts. Their last outing was day 11 of Osaka, Shohozan went for the face while Shimanoumi went for center-mass, and we know which one tends to work better.
Sadanoumi (2-1) vs Tochinoshin (1-2) – I keep expecting Tochinoshin to pull whatever health he has left and make a desperate attempt to win enough matches to keep him in the top division. He’s fairly evenly matched (3-4) with Sadanoumi, but his most recent matches (since re-injury) have been dismal.
Tamawashi (1-2) vs Myogiryu (1-2) – I am looking for Tamawashi to pick up win #2 today, as he typically dominates Myogiryu (8-4), and Myogiryu seems to be continuing to struggle with his body and his sumo. His last two tournaments were 5-10 and 4-11. Ouch!
Kaisei (1-2) vs Ikioi (0-3) – Another match of grizzled veterans, with Ikioi once again in the mode where you wonder if one of his appendages are going to fall off during the match. Their 27 match history favors Kaisei 17-10, and certainly Ikioi is so banged up he may not offer much challenge. The one saving element is that Ikioi’s sumo is quite effective against rikishi who are mostly forward / backward fighters, like Kaisei.
Terutsuyoshi (1-2) vs Chiyotairyu (2-1) – Tradition little man / big man match, it has Isegehama’s power pixie against the Kokenoe thunder god. Can Chiyotairyu disrupt Terutsuyoshi in the tachiai? They have split their only 2 prior matches.
Ishiura (3-0) vs Tokushoryu (3-0) – A big match today, we have two rikishi without a loss, and one of them is going down today. Personally I think Ishiura’s luck is going to run out soon, so I give a slight edge to Hatsu yusho winner Tokushoryu.
Abi (1-2) vs Ryuden (2-1) – I have changed my mind, I want more matta nonsense in my sumo, so I am all behind Ryuden employing as many pre-bout shenanigans as he finds amusing. Of course with a 5-2 career advantage, I am fairly sure Abi will just smack him around double-arm style until he falls down.
Enho (0-3) vs Hokutofuji (2-1) – Enho’s got to win one soon. Yes, he’s probably hurt, and yes Hokutofuji won their only prior match, but Enho can’t be this much of a push over right now.
Takarafuji (1-2) vs Aoiyama (1-2) – The Aoiyama advantage here is 20-3! So I am guessing Big Dan is going to shut down Takarafuji’s mobility, and put him on the clay.
Onosho (0-3) vs Okinoumi (0-3) – Another battle of guys I wish were winning, but especially Onosho. The two are evenly matched, and I can take some happiness that one of these two will finally get their first win. I will be looking to see if Onosho gets over his toes in the tachiai.
Shodai (2-1) vs Kagayaki (2-1) – It’s Kagayaki’s school of sumo fundamentals against a rikishi who seems to be improving each and every basho. While Kagayaki will give him a good fight, I have to give an edge to Shodai based on we are seeing some of his best sumo ever, and he holds a 5-1 career advantage over Kagayaki.
Kiribayama (1-2) vs Mitakeumi (2-1) – First time match up, and I am expecting this newly focused Mitakeumi to take Kiribayama apart. Kiribayama has speed and agility, but Mitakeumi is just so freaking huge.
Takakeisho (2-1) vs Endo (0-3) – This comes down to Endo getting a mawashi grip. IF he can get a solid hand hold that Takakeisho can’t break, he’s going to rid him like a horse until Endo gets tired. This has only happened twice in their 7 prior matches, and given that Endo has had 3 straight losses to start the tournament, we may see the Ozeki pad his win count in the hunt for 8.
Daieisho (2-1) vs Asanoyama (2-1) – A real highlight match in my eyes. The Shin-Ozeki takes on Daieisho, who can and does put anyone in sumo on the dirt on any given day. It will all come down to who can set the tone of the match. Daieisho’s an explosive oshi technician, and Asanoyama has gotten comfortable in his yotsu-zumo. Clash of styles and a 7-4 career advantage for Daieisho means this is the match to watch.
Hakuho (3-0) vs Takanosho (3-0) – Given the kinboshi on day 3, I am going to guess that “the boss” is not going to give the upstart Takanosho any chance. I am looking for a quick, powerful and brutal win by the Yokozuna.
Yutakayama (1-2) vs Kakuryu (2-1) – I am hoping that his day 3 loss has focused Kakuryu, and that we don’t see him resorting to pulling moves, or losing is patience during a match. He has beaten Yutakayama all 3 prior matches, and I am looking for him to make it 4 today.