After the pasting the Yokozuna and 2 Ozeki took on day 1, it’s time for the top guys to show us what they can do. Of course all eyes are on Terunofuji, as I think most sumo fans want the Yokozuna strong and healthy, as it is the nature of the sport.
None of the top 4 men have easy matches today, and I think this is indeed going to be a theme this May – the men below Ozeki are really in strong shape, and they are looking to tear their way up the banzuke. Of special interest to me is Wakatakakage. I know I pointed out in the run up to Natsu that even a big blow out score here would not get him to Ozeki – he needs to prove he can repeat his big scores first. But The first part of that would be to, yes, run up the score once more. He looked very good day 1, and he needs to keep things rolling in act 1 to continue to make his case.
Speaking of which, yes, we are in act 1. Tachiai tends to divide up a basho into three 5 day acts, each has their own purpose. Act 1 is to clean off the ring rust, and figure out who is hot, and who is not. On to today’s matches…
What We Are Watching Day 2
Kagayaki vs Midorifuji – Its just possible that maybe Kagayaki and Ryuden were able to practice together and get their sumo into good shape. I would really like Kagayaki to repay the banzuke luck he has received so many times with an actual top division kachi-koshi. Odd fact, Shikimori Inosuke, the chief gyoji, is from his stable.
Kotokuzan vs Ichiyamamoto – Kotokuzan lost his opener against the aforementioned Kagayaki, but there is no reason he can’t or won’t come out strong today against Ichiyamamoto. Kotokuzan just needs to get underneath and stop the double arm thrusting attacks.
Oho vs Azumaryu – Both of these guys lost their opener, and both of them are looking for their first top division kachi-koshi some time next week. At least one of them will get their first white star today.
Yutakayama vs Meisei – If day 1 is any indicator, Meisei’s health and body problems from Osaka are in the past. If true, he’s really going to be knocking heads for the next couple of weeks. Yutakayama has beaten him once out of their six prior matches, so maybe he can summon some of his old fighting spirit and put up a stiff fight.
Myogiryu vs Chiyotairyu – 20 match history between these two, split evenly 10-10. Chiyotairyu looked terrible day 1, with an early pull that was not really set up correctly that lead to his quick defeat. If he shows up like that today, Myogiryu will start Natsu 2-0.
Sadanoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Both are very quick, and both are capable of some exciting sumo. Chiyoshoma has a 6-4 career lead, and I would say that he has a slight edge today, as long as he can stay focused and not be distracted by Sadanoumi’s tachiai.
Okinoumi vs Aoiyama – Twenty Nine matches between these two, with the split 18-11 in favor of Okinoumi. If Okinoumi can land a hand inside or a belt hold, it’s his match. If Aoiyama can keep it oshi-style, he’s likely to prevail.
Nishikigi vs Tochinoshin – Both lost day 1, Nishikigi because he got caught in Aoiyama’s V-Twin to pull down attack, and Tochinoshin because he is a one legged osteopath case who somehow does sumo. I love that he soldiers on, but some days I cringe watching him struggle.
Shimanoumi vs Kotoshoho – Another pair up between day 1 losers, I think that Kotoshoho did not guard himself against Terutsuyoshi well at all, and that was quite the lesson he received. He has never lost to Shimanoumi, so maybe today is the day he gets his first win.
Terutsuyoshi vs Kotoeko – Battle of the compact brawlers, this one has “hoo boy” written all over itself in English, Kanji, and German. 23 career matches, with a tiny 12-11 advantage to Terutsuyoshi. I think sparks are going to fly.
Ura vs Takarafuji – Ura still looking crummy following his crummy run in Osaka. As an Ura fan, I want to see him excel. But at least if he loses today, it will be to Takarafuji, who could really use a kachi-koshi for May.
Wakamotoharu vs Tobizaru – Another great clash of styles. It’s going to be Wakamotoharu’s strong yotsu vs Tobizaru’s monkey-sumo, and I am all about this. Tobizaru has a 6-1 career lead, but Wakamotoharu has been making noticeable improvements each basho, and I have to think this might be the day that Wakamotoharu can get a hold of Tobizaru and treat him to a fine, old-fashioned yorki-kiri.
Endo vs Onosho – It’s just a single day, but Endo really did look sharp on day one. He is closer to the tail end of his career than to the start, but it would be great to see him run a double digit score again while he still has enough fighting power to make it work. He’s going to need to withstand Onosho’s power forward opening combo, and that can be a lot. Endo leads the series 7-3.
Takanosho vs Daieisho – Fresh from beating Terunofuji on opening day, Daieisho gets to take on a still suffering Takanosho. I am used to seeing him in the named ranks, so him slumming down and M4, and still struggling, is somewhat unsettling. They two share a 6-6 career record, but if Daieisho brings the same tachiai he used against Terunofuji, it’s his match.
Wakatakakage vs Tamawashi – Tamawashi has never beaten Wakatakakage in 5 attempts, but don’t let that get in the way of what could be a fantastic match. With Wakatakakage firmly rooted in the Sekiwake position until he gets injured or promoted, its really time to study his sumo. Tamawashi, however, is well known, and if he can hit hard early, it would likely be enough to throw Wakatakakage off his match plan.
Hokutofuji vs Abi – Both lost on opening day when their individual opponents wrecked the preferred attack style. Both of these guys will likely consent to a oshi-battle deluxe, and I expect it to come down between Abi’s top end style, and Hokutofuji’s usually impeccable foot work.
Mitakeumi vs Hoshoryu – Mitakeumi has a 3-0 career record over Hoshoryu, who I worry is still not quite ready for the named ranks. I know he has a lot of pressure to climb the banzuke, but I would rather see him mature properly and really clean up in a year or two. For Mitakeumi, the next bell to ring would give him the rope if he can connect a pair of yusho, of if the YDC decide that a 4th haul of the cup is likely good enough.
Kiribayama vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho looked quite of out sorts on day 1, and he gave Kotonowaka a real confidence boost through his loss. Charity should end there, and it’s time for the Ozeki to pound the stuffing out of all challengers. He has a 6-3 career advantage against Kiribayama, and I would like to see Takakeisho really dominate today’s match.
Kotonowaka vs Shodai – Shodai, get it together man.
Terunofuji vs Takayasu – The big match of the day, this one could inform sumo fans around the glob on the condition of Terunofuji’s fractional knees. We all want them to be as sturdy as can be, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know the day is coming when they fail. We saw Takayasu on one foot during his day one match against Mitakeumi, and that normally spells a big hairy loss for the former Ozeki. Keep both feet on the clay, and all power forward, sir!