At the end of day 4, an impressive number of rikishi have managed to start the tournament with 2-2 records. This is not really atypical, but it shows how even the field is yet again in this tournament, and we may see another January with a first time emperor’s cup winner. On that subject, it’s worth noting that Daieisho, Meisei, and Akiseyama are all 4-0, with a pack of 7 rikishi 1 loss behind.
While we are talking scores, Takakeisho at 0-4 is a grave concern. There is no way this is anything short of injury, and he owes himself, his fans and the sumo world the time to heal up. Sure, he is the lead Ozeki for this basho, and he may think he should stay in for the good of the tournament. But we need the grand tadpole back in fighting form, rather than his current underpowered form.
Elsewhere in the sumo universe, it seems NHK has decided to assert their copyrights on sumo youtube channels, and we are seeing everyone take a hit. It’s a shame, as people like Jason are great to listen to discuss the match and the rikishi prior to the match, but maybe NHK can find some accommodation for out favorite youtube channels.
Yutakayama defeats Azumaryu – Azumaryu gave him a solid fight, albeit low velocity fight. The kimarite (sotogake )was a bit improvised, as Azumaryu and Yutakayama attempted multiple leg trips, Yutakayama finally pushing Azumaryu back over his left ankle. Yutakayama improves to 3-1.
Sadanoumi defeats Hoshoryu – When a rikishi as capable as Hoshoryu goes 0-4, I start looking for evidence of what kind of injury they are trying to muddle through. He is still moving well, but everyone is overpowering him. Typically that indicates an undercarriage problem, so maybe back or knees or ankles. He had a great throwing setup, but Sadanoumi’s overwhelming strength and speed shut him down before he could apply any power. Sadanoumi improves to 2-2.
Akiseyama defeats Midorifuji – Midorifuji put a lot into this match, and you can see him trying just about anything that he can come up with. But Akiseyama’s bulky frame presents quite the load for even the most motivated rikishi. I say pushing, I saw thrusting, I saw an ankle attack in there too. But Akiseyama remained locked onto Midorifuji, and shut it all down. Deadlocked and chest to chest in the center of the dohyo, Akiseyama drained Midorifuji’s stamina, and waited. With Midorifuji tiring, Akiseyama made his move, and improved to 4-0. I give a lot of credit to Midorifuji’s left side ottsuke, which he maintained for almost the entire match, and never let Akiseyama get his right hand in.
Kotonowaka defeats Akua – Akua got a bit off balance at the tachiai, his body too far forward, and Kotonowaka took immediate control of the match. Realizing he was on the fast track to a loss, Akua attempted to rotate into a throw, but did not have his feet set, and collapsed under Kotonowaka’s advance. Kotonowaka improves to 3-1.
Ichinojo defeats Kotoeko – When Ichinojo is healthy, this is what you get. Kotoeko does not have the mass to really do much to the boulder, and although he makes a valiant first step, he is out massed almost 2:1, and scampers for the exit (and not even really under his own power). Ichinojo improves to 3-1.
Terutsuyoshi defeats Aoiyama – Terutsuyoshi attempts a thrusting battle, but Big Dan fires up the V-Twin, and Terutsuyoshi really only has once place to go. He drives forward and buries his face between Asanoyama’s man-boobs and motorboats his way to victory. The expression on Terutsuyoshi’s face following the match underscores his resolve to win. Both end the day 2-2.
Meisei defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi has a very powerful start to Hatsu, but now he’s 2-2 after his day 4 loss to Meisei. Shimanoumi’s plan A and B fell apart, and before he could get plan C started, Meisei chucked him over the bales. Meisei improves to 4-0.
Myogiryu defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru once again applies frenzied intensity to his match. But as with previous days, he attempts a pull and in this gamble fails. Myogiryu presses forward, Tobizaru has no forward pressure, and is out in a blink of an eye. Myogiryu improves to 2-2 by staying calm and staying focused on his opponent’s balance.
Ryuden defeats Kiribayama – I am happy to report that Ryuden won his first match of January on day 4. He got a deep left hand grip at the tachiai, and immediately had Kiribayama reacting to his sumo. Kiribayama’s response was to pivot into a throwing position at least 3 times, but each time he could not rotate and complete the move. Each attempt cost him distance to the tawara, and on the final once, Ryuden pushed him out to improve to 1-3.
Tokushoryu defeats Kagayaki – This is the kind of move an opponent must always guard against when facing Tokushoryu. He does it so well you know he executes it at least daily in practice. Kagayaki takes his eyes off of his appointment, and finds himself slapped down. Both end the day 2-2.
Tochinoshin defeats Endo – We did not see Endo’s battle crouch today. Instead he reaches for a handful of mawashi and attempts to out muscle Tochinoshin. Bold move, but plausible given the former Ozeki’s bum knee. He backs Tochinoshin up to the tawara, and drives to win. But then Tochinoshin remembers that he has the strength of a bear, who has the strength of two bears. With a surge of ursine energy, it’s time for Endo to go, and we see a somewhat painful sky-crane move as Endo can do little to stop anything.
Tamawashi defeats Okinoumi – Okinoumi: “Yotsu match!”, Tamawashi: “Oshi match!”, Okinoumi: “I said yotsu match!”, Tamawashi: “Get your grubby hands away from my belt, this is an oshi match!” Thus it went in this match, with Okinoumi crashing into Tamawashi as he rotated and both fell into a sweaty heap, with Okinoumi out first. Both end the day 2-2.
Daieisho defeats Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi is up for his Ozeki matches, but then Daieisho comes and spanks him. Granted Daieisho has beaten these same Ozeki, but Mitakeumi really had nothing for offense today, and Daieisho got inside at the tachiai and took his thrusting sumo up to “win” power. Daieisho improves to 4-0, and looks like he could be the man to beat.
Takayasu defeats Terunofuji – I was curious if the old advantage Takayasu has had for years over Terunofuji would still hold. Yes, it seems it’s still Takayasu who owns this series. Terunofuji seems to get impatient and try a bit of a pull, and that was the start of Takayasu’s dominance of this match, and Terunofuji never got back in control. Both end the day at 2-2.
Takanosho defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji initial hit left him off balance, and Takanosho immediately slapped him down. Maybe Hokutofuji is not 100% after his broken nose on day 3. Takanosho improves to 3-1.
Asanoyama defeats Onosho – Onosho could not get enough space to set up his legs for his big forward push, and Asanoyama found his preferred grip and stance at the tachiai. Suddenly the strong, genki Asanoyama reappeared, and he shut down any further offense, marching Onosho out for a much needed second win.
Shodai defeats Kotoshoho – Kotoshoho gets a workable grip at the tachiai, but as we saw on day 2, Shodai just shuts down his opponent and advances with unstoppable power. It’s a quite trip to the edge and a dive into the shimpan’s lap for Kotoshoho, who starts January 0-4 while Shodai improves to 3-1.
Takarafuji defeats Takakeisho – We saw Takakeisho attempt his double hand attack, but again the primary weapon, his left, had no power. Takarafuji expertly stays just at the wrong distance for Takakeisho’s thrust to have optimum effect, and focuses on staying upright, on balance and in the match. This pays off when Takakeisho ends up turned away from Takarafuji, and Takarafuji’s left hand finds Takakeisho’s mawashi. Takakeisho is down and ends the day 0-4, and is probably hurt, in my opinion.