Welcome to act 2 of the Hatsu Basho. Act 2 is where we narrow the field to find out who has what it takes to compete for the yusho, and to start sorting the survivors from the damned. With so many out kyujo this basho, it’s tough to know exactly how the March banzuke is going to be built and staffed. I have to think that it’s going to take an ass-ton of Sake.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Hoshoryu vs Nishikigi – Welcome back Nishikigi. Once, not that long ago, humble Nishikigi took a magical trip into the joi-jin, where he met a large and mighty Yokozuna. The Yokozuna looked at him with scorn and disbelief. This pudgy, near-sighted piece of flotsam challenges me? But Nishikigi steeled his will, focused his sumo, and beat the Yokozuna. It seems like a fairytale now as Nishkigi finds himself struggling with just 1 win in the middle of Juryo. If it helps, he’s up against a smaller fellow who has an injured back, and no wins this month to his name.
Sadanoumi vs Midorifuji – This first ever match up features two rikishi that can fight at speed, and I am hoping that we see some action that requires slow motion replays to untangle. They have matching 3-2 records coming into day 6, so I expecting good things.
Ichinojo vs Kotonowaka – A great test match for the lurking question of “Just how genki is Ichinojo?”. We have seen him really just swat around anyone he mistakes for a misbehaving pony this January, but Kotonowaka is not going to be a push over for him. In fact he has yet to take a match from Kotonowaka in 2 attempts. A win from “The Boulder” today would be a strong indicator that he is in excellent fighting from.
Akiseyama vs Terutsuyoshi – Akiseyama has his fans, and rightly so. The man is a self-propelled paradox. At the same time he is immensely flabby and fat, but when you see him start to fight, his bulging, ripped leg muscles describe what kind of athlete’s body is encased in that mountain of blubber just above his waist. In some way he has found an optimal rikishi formula. A body of a prize fighter encased in a layer of lard to give him gravity and heft. He’s got Terutsuyoshi today, and they are fairly evenly matched (3-2 favoring Terutsuyoshi). Fight it out, gentlemen!
Yutakayama vs Kotoeko – I really liked Yutakayama’s day 5 match against Sadanoumi, which just so happened to end in the lap of Isegahama Oyakata. Perks of the job, I suppose, to have about 600 pounds of sweaty, brawling rikishi come crashing into you with just a moments notice. This is going to be another even match with high potential as Kotoeko needs to win this one to get back to even in the win / loss column, and he certainly can deliver some excellent, high velocity sumo.
Akua vs Aoiyama – I checked, and yes its true – these two have never matched before. Akua is a 30 year old veteran, yet he will be facing down the V-Twin for the first time ever. Will Big Dan be able to fire up his primary attack mode? Or will Akua grab a hold of the nearest roll of pasty white flesh and dump Aoiyama over the side like the chum bucket on a trawler?
Shimanoumi vs Tobizaru – Oh, Tobizaru is only 1-4 at the start of act 2. He’s likely headed for some serious make-koshi action. This is a far cry from his 11-4 at Aki, and it’s probably working on his thoughts. He has a 10 match history with Shimanoumi, split 5-5. Thus the only think between him and win #2 is air and opportunity.
Ryuden vs Myogiryu – Ryuden has a lot of work to do to try and rescue himself from a make-koshi. At his rank (M6) he is unlikely to have an threat of demotion to Juryo, but his sumo has been rough an inconsistent since day 1. Maybe he’s cleared things up with his pelvic distractions, and is focusing solely on that first step now.
Kiribayama vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki has settled down, and shed his considerable ring rust. He seems to almost always show up with heavy encrustation, and he seldom gets dialed in until act 2. Right on plan, he’s starting to focus on the fundamentals and fight well. With both Kagayaki and Kiribayama having 3-2 records, and a 2-2 career match score, this one has even fight from top to bottom. Fundamentals, or raw energy?
Endo vs Tokushoryu – Endo holds a 10-0 career advantage over Tokushoryu. That may tell you all you need to know about this match in the middle of day 6.
Meisei vs Okinoumi – Meisei is undefeated in act 1, and act 2 is where these early streak rikishi get put to the test. It’s too early to really think about a yusho race leader board, and many of these 5-0 starts will pick up their first loss (and maybe second) in act 2. In fact, Meisei has not beaten Okinoumi in 5 tries, so this may be the day that he hits the clay.
Hokutofuji vs Kotoshoho – I hate to say it, but it seems that once again Hokutofuji is on course to win the title of “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”. I don’t know how he does it, frankly. He fights huge each and every day, but he always seems to be the one to leave without the kensho. I adore the guy, but something is keeping that last 10% from being deployed most fights.
Takayasu vs Mitakeumi – This is an old rivalry, going back to the peak of the 4 Ozeki era, when sumo fans (myself included) saw Mitakeumi as a likely contender for sumo’s second highest rank. The 2015 me would be astounded to find out that 6 years later, Takayasu was an Ozeki for a time, but Mitakeumi could never quite get it done. They both come in with 2-3 records for Hatsu, with Takayasu having a 15-6 career advantage.
Terunofuji vs Daieisho – Daieisho’s sumo has been impressive. He’s dominated every match, and none of his first 5 have even been close. That’s not atypical for a rikishi on a hot streak, but he also all 3 active Ozeki, and both Komusubi. Having completed that collection, he’s starting on the Sekiwake with Terunofuji up first. I am really starting to look forward to his matches. Good luck against the Kaiju today!
Tamawashi vs Takanosho – Speaking of Takanosho, he draws Tamawashi today, who is fighting well this January, and needs to do something about the 0-3 career deficit against Takanosho. The human rice ball has a splendid 4-1 record, and hopefully will stay sharp, strong and focused.
Tochinoshin vs Shodai – We saw a little cartoon sumo on day 5, but lets all admit that Shodai is at his best when he’s a heartbeat from losing and he pulls some crazy combo out of thin air, and his opponent goes down. Tochinoshin showed on day 5 that his knees can’t take the forward pressure to resist a strong forward push, and that’s exactly how Shodai has won most of his matches this tournament. So I expect a rapid exit for Tochinoshin. I am beginning to think that the day 4 mini-skycrane may have been damaging to what was left of his knee.
Takakeisho vs Onosho – Ah, a tadpole fight. Normally I would be very excited for this one, except that Takakeisho is in poor shape, fighting with one arm, and most likely not fit for purpose right now. His saving grace is that Onosho will frequently get too far forward over his toes, and makes an easy mark for a side step or slap down.
Asanoyama vs Takarafuji – The past two days we have seen the “good” version of Asanoyama, finally. I hope he can now run the banzuke from here on out. Takarafuji has only won once against him in 8 attempts.