If I had to give day 4 a name, I would call it the “Equalizer”. Many who had not won yet find their first white star, and some early favorites found the clay. The Aki basho is frequently chaotic and unpredictable in recent years. With both Yokozuna out, and both Ozeki hit or miss, we are once again going to have to keep an open mind once we start the leaderboard this weekend. I am curious to see who is going to be favored going into act 3 next Tuesday.
Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Must as expected, the fading relic of Ikioi could not muster enough power to really give Ichinojo much of a challenge. Ikioi did put a lot of power into it, but there is just too much of Ichinojo to move.
Shimanoumi defeats Kyokutaisei – Shimanoumi did a fantastic job of keeping his hips low, and that was the key to blunting and eventually overcoming Kyokutaisei’s strength. The kimarite is listed as yoritaoshi, but as Kyokutaisei fell, he seems to have hurt his left ankle. Hopefully they can get him fixed up before tomorrow.
Hoshoryu defeats Shohozan – Shohozan gave him a few good blasts to start the match, but offered only token resistance when Hoshoryu moved to advance. With a 0-4 start at Maegashira 15, we may say goodbye to Shohozan in the top division this tournament.
Tobizaru defeats Kaisei – Points to Tobizaru for not being intimidated by the sheer bulk that is Kaisei. Tobizaru’s excellent hand placement at the tachiai actually moved Kaisei back for a time, before the Brazilian rallied and advanced. As it seemed Kaisei had turned the tables on Tobizaru, a deft move to the right put him behind Kaisei, and Tobizaru escorted him out.
Kotoshoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Points to Kotoshoho for keeping his balance and his calm intact while Chiyotairyu put his considerable strength into a volley of blows to his face and neck. A well timed step to the side left Chiyotairyu with no target and nothing but Tokyo air to push against, and that big belly made its way to the clay.
Kotoeko defeats Meisei – Meisei got the better of the tachiai, and Kotoeko rallied and counter attacked smartly. With Kotoeko now setting terms of the match, he forced Meisei to move, and as Meisei moved to evade another Kotoeko, he lost footing and went down for a loss. Kotoeko’s first win of Aki, and maybe he has shaken off his ring rust.
Onosho defeats Enho – I don’t know if I feel about this match. I am delighted Onosho has started Aki 4-0 after such a dismal run in July (2-13!). But Enho is really starting to worry me. Enho did try to go low and start applying his sumo, but Onosho simply overpowered him before Enho could set up for an attack.
Wakatakakage defeats Sadanoumi – Wakatakakage took a firm hold of Sadanoumi’s right hand at the tachiai, and would not let go. This was a fantastic strategy as it removed Sadanoumi’s speed from the match, and put his focus on escaping that hold. Wakatakakage capitalized on his distraction and ran him to the tawara and gave him a tidy little fling to the clay. Solid sumo from the youngest Onami brother today.
Ryuden defeats Aoiyama – Great start by Aoiyama, and he has Ryuden set up for the loss early, but Ryuden used his superior mobility to circle away, breaking contact and when he re-engaged, Aoiyama was turned, with his heels at the bales. Excellent sumo from Ryuden today.
Kagayaki defeats Tokushoryu – Ample tenacity and endurance from Kagayaki today. He found himself focused on trying to blunt Tokushoryu’s advance following an evenly matched tachiai. Twice Tokushoryu took him to the tawara and twice Kagayaki rallied. But what happened? Why Tokushoryu tried to pull him down, and that release of forward pressure was all Kagayaki needed to take control of the match. There are days when I see the seeds of greatness in Kagayaki, and other times I am left wondering what happened do those glimpses of a his sumo.
Takayasu defeats Kiribayama – I would say that looked like dear Sekiwake Takayasu. The guy who was less chaotic with his sumo. Focused, in control with seemingly infinite stamina. The guy you had to never try to engage in a yotsu battle because he would wear you down and then play with you until he got tired. No blame to Kiribayama, because that version of Takayasu has not been around for a couple of years. But he is out in force this September. Takayasu attainted a left hand grip, and I think that once he felt that giant, meaty hand latch on, Kiribayama knew he had lost. A lift and a heave-ho from Takayasu and Kiribayama was out on the curb for pickup Thursday morning in Sumida-ku.
Takarafuji defeats Tochinoshin – I am going to declare that today’s match seems to indicate that once again Tochinoshin’s banged up right knee is damaged. Token force forward at the tachiai, followed by an immediate attempt to pull against Takarafuji? Takarafuji knew exactly what to do.
Yutakayama defeats Myogiryu – Sigh of relief as Yutakayama picks up his first win. But Yutakayama’s sumo was chaotic and all over the dohyo. Myogiryu fought well, but lost his footing moments after he rallied and forced Yutakayama onto defense.
Endo defeats Terutsuyoshi – The “Good” Endo came to the Kokugikan today. Terutsuyoshi chose to open the match with a straight ahead drive at the tachiai, and Endo knew exactly what to do. In a sheer contest of strength, a healthy Endo was always going to win.
Takanosho defeats Daieisho – Takanosho continues to impress me. It almost seems that each match, he is fractionally better than the one before. Daieisho gets in an excellent tachiai, but while Daieisho is blasting away on Takanosho’s face and neck, Takanosho is focusing on getting hand placement. He succeeds with a right hand in Daieisho’s arm pit, lowers his hips, and sends Daieisho out.
Okinoumi defeats Mitakeumi – Long time followers of Mitakeumi will find his current sumo sadly familiar. Somehow, in his own mind, he is disrupted, and he seems to be about 10% short on what it takes to win. Okinoumi can be counted on to execute with high skill, and that left hand outside grip he took at the tachiai was textbook. As Okinoumi advanced to win, Mitakeumi loaded a throw at the bales, but was too close to the edge and stepped out before he could finish rotating Okinoumi.
Terunofuji defeats Shodai – There it was again. Did you see it? A glimpse of Ozeki Terunofuji. Not the sick, hurt one who made your heart ache. The one that could beat anyone through sheer power. Given those knees, I know the time he has is short, but oh man it’s amazing to see that return. He handed Shodai his first loss through sheer, brute power.
Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – I am happy that Asanoyama finally got his first win. But boy did Hokutofuji have velcro feet today. One of the finest final defenses in a long time. Again it’s as if Hokutofuji’s lower body is a separate entity being controlled by its own intelligence. The top side can be dangling over the side of the dohyo, and from the pelvis down, the attitude is broadcast, “no, not going to loose to this guy!”. Asanoyama literally defeated Hokutofuji’s lower body about 5 seconds after he had finished beating Hokutofuji’s head and torso.
Takakeisho defeats Tamawashi – A great example in sumo mechanics. Tamawashi focused tsuppari on Takakeisho’s face and shoulders, and Takakeisho focused on chest and center mass. Takakeisho had to work hard to keep his footing, but rallied and drove Tamawashi from the ring. Good effort from both!