Here we are, already previewing the final day of act 1. The goal of act one is to remove ring rust, see who is hot and who is not. I think it’s clear that we can break it down like this
- Mitakeumi – He had a bit of a close call with an ill advised pull on day 4, but was able to recover. The only unbeaten rikishi in the named ranks, he’s setting the pace heading into the middle weekend. It’s not unreasonable to start to consider that he might pick up a second yusho.
- Takayasu – It seems taking Hatsu off because of COVID kyujo allowed Takayasu some time to get his various injuries under control. He has not looked this comfortable in his sumo in years, and he is fighting very well. As a fan, this makes me quite happy.
- Shodai – Suffering from long COVID, and completely robbed of strength, energy, stamina. He’s a walking disaster right now, and I think he needs to cut his losses before he picks up a mechanical injury to boot. Try for 10 in May.
- Chiyomaru – Not sure what ails the roundest fellow in the top division, but hopefully he clears it up soon. Many fans adore this guy with good cause, it would be great to see him rack a couple of wins soon.
With Ishiura kyujo, we will get daily Juryo visitors to fill the banzuke gap.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Oho vs Ichiyamamoto – First up from Juryo, it’s Oho! He ba-ba-bombed out his first trip division, and with a 3-1 start, maybe he can make it back in May. He’s got an even record against Ichiyamamoto at 2-2, so should be a fair fight. Oho has some solid sumo moves, so maybe it was all nerves in January?
Kotokuzan vs Tochinoshin – Both come in at 2-2, and I am going to wonder if Tochinoshin is going to be in “Street Fighter” mode again today. It’s kind of interesting seeing him slap and hit people when normally his focus is the big battle hug. This is the first time he and Kotokuzan have been in a match together.
Kagayaki vs Yutakayama – This will be a mighty fine fight of 3-1 rikishi, I am going to guess. They share a 7-6 / 13 match career record. Both of them are ranked really below their abilities right now, and both are solid oshi-zumo guys. I hope Kagayaki remembers to lower his stance, or he’s going to be ejected by Yutakayama in short order.
Kotoshoho vs Akua – From a pair of 3-1’s to a pair of 1-3s. Its not too late for either one to salvage a kachi-koshi out of this basho, but they need to start laying in the wins, beginning today. I am especially eager to see Kotoshoho get his 8, as he has a lot of catching up to do. Their 3-4 career record shows they are quite evenly matched.
Nishikigi vs Chiyonokuni – Back to a pair of 3-1s, and this one is acres of potential. We have the nearly blind Nishikigi, who has to fight from close in or he can’t manage, vs the captain of the hit and move crew in Chiyonokuni. A tremendous contrast in styles that has strongly favored Chiyonokuni 8-2 over their previous 10 bouts.
Chiyomaru vs Terutsuyoshi – One of these days, Chiyomaru will pick up his first win. Maybe not today, as Terutsuyoshi has a 7-3 career lead over the spheroid wonder. I have to guess what has Chiyomaru fighting poorly. Not enough food? Too much food? Critical yakitori shortage? Or maybe he was one of the Kokonoe guys who had COVID, and is not quite himself yet.
Chiyotairyu vs Aoiyama – Oh boy, this is a fun one too! Both come in with 2-2 records, and you have Chiyotairyu’s thunder-god sumo where he blasts off the shikiri-sen, using his body as a projectile, vs Big Dan Aoiyama’s V-Twin attack and the omnipresent distraction of his pendulous flesh. The 13-9 record favors Aoiyama, and it is Osaka, so I am going to say it will be Big Dan favored to win today.
Shimanoumi vs Kotoeko – Another 2-2 duo, and it looks like a good chance for a pickup for Kotoeko, as he has won 7 of the last 9 against Shimanoumi. If oshidashi is on the menu, Kotoeko will be serving it up today.
Myogiryu vs Wakamotoharu – They ran out of matching numbers for a bit, so these two get to fight it out like regular Joes. They have never really had a prior match, as the last time one was scheduled (Hatsu 2022), Myogiryu went kyujo. So it seems the schedulers were quite unfulfilled and required a second chance to see these two fight.
Chiyoshoma vs Tobizaru – Oh good, matching numbers again. Chiyoshoma is sputtering a bit after a good first few days, and with only a single win in 7 tries against Tobizaru, it will be a rough day for him. I think the key for Chiyoshoma will be to land a belt grip early, and cut down the quantity of Tobizaru’s scampering moves.
Okinoumi vs Kotonowaka – When the numbers don’t match, at least you can make them a reflection. so 1-3 Okinoumi faces 3-1 Kotonowaka. They have had 2 prior matches which they split 1-1, but right now Okinoumi seems to be in his less genki state that we see some basho. So possibly another white star for Kotonowaka.
Hokutofuji vs Sadanoumi – Hokutofuji’s power against Sadanoumi’s speed. This will be a fun one to watch, as Hokutofuji seems to have his balance in fine working order right now, and that stability is the key to his sumo. Sadanoumi has scored just a single win to date, and has not defeated Hokutofuji in 3 attempts.
Takarafuji vs Takayasu – They do seem to have Takayasu’s matches pinned to the middle of the torikumi now, don’t they? s today it’s Takarafuji, who has been fighting quite poorly this March, and may be headed toward one of his “dud” basho. A win today would mean Takayasu finished act 1 at 5-0, which would be a fantastic start for him. I do hope he can keep this rolling.
Ichinojo vs Endo – I think its time for Ichinojo to start showing us some big boulder sumo. No finer start to that process than to grind Endo down with 200kg of pony-tossing Mongolian sumo love. How big is big to Ichinojo… I wonder. Perhaps one day after a 20 gallon ice cream binge, he might transform into ultra-mega-nojo. Twice the size and 4x the power. Someone send him a box of Baskin Robins coupons, stat!
Daieisho vs Ura – 1-3 Ura is done with the hard part of his schedule now, its on to fighting against the lower san’yaku and the Maegashira. Today he fights Daieisho, who shares his Maegashira 1 rank. They have an even 3-3 record, so it’s down to Daieisho keeping his arms and legs inside the ride at all times, lest Ura find something to grab and tug.
Takanosho vs Abi – I admit, that Abi throw on day 4 was quite the thrill for this sumo fan. I would love to see him mix it up a lot more. Maybe a tsukaminage today? Maybe he can barrow Ura’s book of WTF sumo and really get the fans crazy with joy. Sorry, Takanosho? he has a 1-3 career deficit against Abi, so he may get to ride the lightning today.
Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu – Two rising stars in the sumo world head to head, both in san’yaku. both at their highest ever ranks. Lets put them head to head and let the beat the stuffing out of each other. Wakatakakage has a 4-2 career advantage, and his a superior 3-1 score this March, but I think just on sheer head to head potential, this is a dead even match.
Shodai vs Onosho – Well, from that high to this low. This is going to be a grim little 15 seconds of sumo, as Onosho’s full power oshi broadside takes apart a defenseless Shodai. Grim.
Kiribayama vs Mitakeumi – A bit of a tough match for Mitakeumi to close out act 1 for him. He has only a 4-4 record against Kiribayama, and Kiribayama has been fighting pretty well this month. So I hope to see the clam, patient, stable Mitakeumi, and not that guy who loses his cool and tries to pull on the second step from the tachiai. Be a giant, immobile 180kg chunk of Ozeki and dare him to dislodge you, it will probably work.
Meisei vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho is sailing a hard line at 2-2, in a basho where he must get 8 or endure the same fate that waits Shodai. He has a reasonable decent record against Meisei, who has only a single win this basho, so hopefully a pickup for the kadoban Ozeki today.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – I am still trying to figure out if Terunofuji is injured or not. Just when he gets to the point I think he ought to go kyuju, he has a decent day on the clay, and I decide he’s going to be ok after all. Which Terunofuji will we get on day 5? If he really is ok now, I would expect him to be strong through the middle weekend, and put a lot of pressure on Mitakeumi for the cup.