Its the start of act 2, and I must admit that act 2 is my favorite, It wraps the middle weekend, and usually is the point where anyone who is going to snap out of a starting slump finally remembers their sumo. Team Tachiai defines act 2 as – 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. I note with some interest just how many rikishi are 2-3 or 3-2. There is no way that the schedulers are not excited as can be to start running the funnel, with the prospect of getting nearly everyone except the top and bottom performers as close to 7-7 on the final day as possible. Sumo is at times a strange a brutal sport, and there is a LOT of math involved. Maybe that’s part of its appeal to me.
Rikishi I think will rally in act 2: Ura, Kribayama, and just maybe Waktatakakge. They are all 1-4, and will likely devastate their lower ranked opponents in the coming week.
What We Are Watching Day 6
Bushozan vs Kaisei – Well, Juryo sent up quite the dud today to fill the banzuke gap. Bushozan is coming in with a blistering 0-5 record. All Kaisei has to do is stand there and give him a firm tap on the top of the head, and he will probably crumple a preschool origami.
Wakamotoharu vs Tsurugisho – The numbers can and will lie to you. For example, Tsurugisho holds a 4-2 career advantage over Wakamotoharu, and Tsurugisho won 50% of his last couple of matches. But he stands zero chance of taking out Wakamotoharu today. He’s simply too banged up physically and maybe mentally as well by this point. Wakamotoharu needs one more win to improve to the .500 mark, and he needs to be careful not to get pulled into the funnel this weekend.
Oho vs Tochinoshin – Weekend? Maybe they are starting early. With the huge number of 3-2 / 2-3 rikishi right now, why not have them face off and try to keep them all within 1 match of the .500 mark. Feed the Darwin mills 10 days from now. Ugly stuff. But I think that Oho is probably a bit too bulky for Tochinoshin to even the limited version of his skycrane, and he is vulnerable to focused forward pressure. I think the advantage is to Oho today.
Kotonowaka vs Ichiyamamoto – These two have been beating on each other since 2017 in lower Makushita, and they have plenty of tensions and aggression to deliver to each other today. It’s like a violent Secret Santa, where the present is a face full of clay and the walk of shame back to the dressing room. These two are evenly matched across the board, with Ichiyamamoto a bit more thrusty, and Kotonowaka a bit more pushy / hitty. Lets have a good wallop boys!
Kotoeko vs Yutakayama – I had to look twice, Kotoeko is 3-2? Wow, thats unexpected, and quite welcome. I expect he is going to try to close range and go chest to chest, and Yutakayama will want to keep at least half an arm’s length between them to optimize the oshi attacks. I expect Kotoeko to take a beating and give Yutakayama a firm battle hug, and maybe some gaburi-yori? I saw that stuff on day 5, but Kotoeko needs to eat a LOT more curry for that to work.
Ishiura vs Chiyotairyu – I know Chiyotairyu picked up his first win yesterday against Akua, but I don’t think thats going to translate to any kind of momentum going into today. So this is Ishiura’s fight to control, at least during the opening moments. I would suspect that Chiyotairyu may try and “stand them up / slap them down” on Ishiura, which might actually work.
Sadanoumi vs Aoiyama – Where has Aoiyama’s umpf gone? I suspect it flies south to Okinawa for the winter, and stays there helping some poor farmer get his crops under control, or some school age child pound a bully into mush. But we need it back. Big Dan is a fraction of his normal self, and in this state, he’s kind of a sad pasty lump of sumo. He is literally a blubbery pile of flesh that I expect Sadanoumi will toss out in short order.
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – Who else is up for some unbelievable sumo from Chiyomaru? Maybe a flying henka today? I am not sure what to expect from him these days. I do know that Terutsuyoshi has a 6-3 career advantage, and one of these days one of his ashitori attempts is going to connect.
Chiyonokuni vs Akua – Well, at least we will give someone their first win today. Both of these normally genki rikishi are painfully ineffective right now, and I want them to find some way to bounce back. I can’t even really bring up a career record, because both of them are fighting far behind their normal level, its anyone’s guess who has advantage here.
Myogiryu vs Tobizaru – Ok, this should be a strong match. I am looking for a lot of motion out of Tobizaru, and a lot of power out of Myogiryu. If he can bracket Tobizaru and keep his range of motion limited, he should be able to take him out in about 4 volleys. But of course, we know sumo’s flying monkey is in constant motion. Makes me wonder if we could somehow entangle him on a quantum level with an dark matter, and then no one (not even the best physicists) could find him, they could only predict that he might exist.
Shimanoumi vs Abi – No. no. no. nope. No. No. Nope. No. Thank you Shimanoumi, please remember to have your tsukibeto prepare your yukata for the trip home.
Onosho vs Chiyoshoma – Who hits first, and who hits hardest? I am eager to see Chiyoshoma evade the hell out of Onosho’s big mega-thrust attacks. The big risk to Chiyoshoma is that Onosho, who seems to have a sense of humor, might henka him. Note to self, do not be taking a drink at the start of this match.
Okinoumi vs Hoshoryu – Okinoumi is likely nursing a chronic injury, and will be little more than ballast today. Makes me damn sad to see this happen, but at least we are likely to see Hoshoryu pick up a 4th win. He’s adapted to his higher weight a fair measure since Kyushu, when he was all over the place with his sumo. I predict good things in Osaka.
Takarafuji vs Hokutofuji – Takarafuji has not had an opening this strong since November of 2020, when he went on to a solid 9-6 finish. I am still expecting Hokutofuji to yet again turn in “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo”, given how his basho is going. I wish I knew what controlled his “hot” vs “cold” basho. I would love to see him elevate his sumo a couple of notches and perpetually bash Mitakeumi around 6 times a year.
Ura vs Kiribayama – Only one win for Plasticman Ura. I would like to see him do better, but I keep in my mind that this is his first time ever at a rank this high. He may be to the point where he needs to figure the next evolutionary step in his sumo, and I am very optimistic on how that turns out for him, and for sumo fans. That being said, he defeated Kiribayama in their only prior match, which was during Nagoya of 2021.
Meisei vs Wakatakakage – Wakatakakage has just one win, and I think someone put his batteries in the wrong way around this time. He’s not quite fighting as he should, and may be an easy mark for Meisei today. They are at 2-3 over their career, but something is hampering Wakatakakage’s sumo, and I don’t think he’s going to debug it before day 6.
Mitakeumi vs Endo – If anyone can flick a big nasty Shodai sized booger on Mitakeumi’s run at Ozeki, it’s Endo. Endo loves to play spoiler, and I can point to many times he had a crummy basho, except when it was time to ruin somebody’s month (ahem, Hakuho…). So I am going to keep an eye out for a fast grab and fling to send the original tadpole bouncing down the hanamichi.
Daieisho vs Takanosho – Both are 2-3, they have a 5-5 career record, and both are at least one notch below their expected intensity right now. That does not mean they won’t elevate into the middle week, which sometimes happens. So we plow through day 6, and see what Saturday and Sunday hold. I give a tiny edge to Daieisho, because if he does connect, he can put someone like Takanosho away in a blink of an eye.
Ichinojo vs Shodai – Shodai. 3-2 Shodai. “What’s that in my ear?” Shodai. “Did you see the size of that booger last night?” Shodai. Come on big stuff, you have it in you to bash the stuffing out of just about all of these knuckleheads. Please give it your best. Oh wait, Ichinojo has a 10-4 career advantage over you. Never mind.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – Since Terunofuji’s return to the top division, Tamawashi has not won a single match against him. I don’t see that changing today, though he always pours on the power against the Yokozuna. Best of luck sir. But I wondering who, if anyone, can put dirt on the Yokozuna out of this crowd.