If you are the kind of person who enjoys distilled for fermented beverages, its time to consider laying in a healthy supply for this basho. There are early signs its going to be an odd one. There is not much you can tell only 2 days in, but a couple of things are already showing themselves. First of are the Maegashira 2 pair: Kotonowaka and Ichinojo. Not only have they started 2-0, they are fighting like they are just getting warmed up. In the case of Kotonowaka, that includes knocking off 2 Ozeki so far, with the third one on tap today. I would also like to note stand out matches from Tamawashi and “Big Dan” Aoiyama in the first two days. They are also part of the 2-0 start crowd, and have been known to compete for the cup into week 2.
In other news, the crummy results coming from the top ranks continue to stink up the place. I think I will start with Grand Sumo Breakdown’s tweet.
One loss per rikishi is bad, but then we have knuckleheads like Shodai (who is kadoban) and Daieisho at 0-2. Anyone can have a bad tournament, but this seems to be systemic. I expect the grumpy old men who advise sumo (YDC), along with Isegahama Oyakata to commence grumbling immediately following the basho.
Ok – end on a better note. Returning former Ozeki Asanoyama fights his second match tonight. If you are able to watch it via one of the pirate streams of Abema, he should be on around 11 PM Eastern / 8:00 PM Pacific in the last few matches of Sandanme.
What We Are Watching Day 3
Yutakayama vs Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru had a day off thanks to his fusensho over Daiamami. He has yet to win a match in July. He faces 2-0 Yutakayama who holds an 8-4 career advantage over the “round one”. My hunch is Chiyomaru going for a pull or slap down in the first 2 steps.
Nishikifuji vs Oho – Given the number of journeymen maegashira who are in the bottom half of the banzuke this time around, rikishi like Nishikifuji may find it tough going trying to pick up his 8. Both he and opponent Oho have 1-1 middling starts to Nagoya, and Nishikifuji needs to overcome the 1-4 career deficit he has against Oho.
Myogiryu vs Onosho – It’s a bit early, but I worry that Onosho is having on of “those” basho, at the exact moment he can’t afford to do so. All the way down an M15, a strong losing record could kick him out of the top division all together. He should be able to beat the stuffing out of everyone down there, but instead he has a cold 0-2 start. He has a 10-3 career advantage over Myogiryu, so maybe he can halt the losing streak (6 matches) today.
Tsurugisho vs Takarafuji – Also part of the dismal 0-2 crowd is Takarafuji, who is in better form this basho than May, and actually seems to be able to transmit power to ground right now. How he’s 0-2 is unknown, but likely lingering effects of injuries in the past. Tsurugisho will want to run “big man sumo” against Takarafuji’s defensive sumo style. Could be an interesting clash of techniques.
Terutsuyoshi vs Ichiyamamoto – Mirror image records, with Terutsuyoshi arriving with 0-2, and Ichiyamamoto brining his 2-0 record to the dohyo today. There is no denying that Ichiyamamoto has opened up strong in Nagoya, but I have to hope that Terutsuyoshi can turn things around at some point this July. He finished May with a dreadful 5-10, and really needs a strong kachi-koshi this month.
Chiyoshoma vs Midorifuji – I am only slightly surprised that Chiyoshoma is part of the 2-0 crowd, he seems to have been carefully working away to tune up his sumo for the past couple of years. Gone are the days when he used every slimy gimmick possible, and now he fights with solid straight ahead sumo. He shares a 2-2 career record with Midorifuji, so an even match up today.
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoshoho – Both are bringing 1-1 records to the dohyo today. I worry that the only sumo Chiyotairyu has left to him right now is the “stand them up, slap them down” combo that has been every match he has won in 2022. It still works some of the time, but people will come to rely on it and anticipate it.
Meisei vs Kotoeko – Another pair of 1-1 rikishi who are similar in that they are compact, highly agile fighters with a lot of strength. I am looking forward to see who wins, as I think Kotoeko is still working through some ring rust.
Tochinoshin vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi turned in a 7-8 make-koshi in May, and has continued to look unimpressive in Nagoya. counting his matches in May, he has now lost 6 in a row. I was disappointed on day 2 when Tochinoshin got his left hand outside grip, but could not set his feet for the “skycrane” move. Perhaps we may get to see it today.
Nishikigi vs Hokutofuji – Nishikigi (2-0) has rather poor eyesight. So, his sumo is simple. Go hug the other guy, hold on like your life depended on it, and wait to find your opening to win. Thus far its worked twice, and he seems to be doing quite well. He’s up against 1-1 Hokutofuji, who a can beat any opponent if his stars align.
Aoiyama vs Okinoumi – There has been a parade of grizzled veterans that are in the middle of the banzuke fighting each other. These two have a 30 match history going back 10 years to 2012. Over the decades, its been an 18-12 advantage for Okinoumi, but today I think Aoiyama’s hot streak may be more of an indicator.
Tobizaru vs Sadanoumi – This may be the day that Sadanoumi picks up his first white star. He has been fighting well, but caught a flubber wave on day 1 from Aoiyama, and got boxed up and sent to the wrong forwarding address by Wakamotoharu on day 2. So today may be his day, if the flying monkey can be tamed.
Tamawashi vs Endo – We have not yet had enough of grizzled vets pounding on each other, so lets have these two long-suffering guys fight it out. Tamawashi has taken 16 of their 29 career matches, and I personally think that Endo is on his last year or two of his active competition career. So lets see some sand, clay and sweat today, gentlemen!
Hoshoryu vs Ichinojo – I hope Ichinojo stays genki all 15 days. A rampaging boulder is something we have not been allowed to enjoy for years, and why not now? He’s got Hoshoryu, who has hopefully watched some of the older, healthy Ichinojo footage in the archives to see what its like to fight him. Word of advice? Prepare to be pony tossed.
Wakamotoharu vs Daieisho – First ever match up, and I am looking for Daieisho to win this one. He’s really got to be very disappointed with his 0-2 start, and today is an excellent day for him to fix that. He needs to keep Wakamotoharu away from his mawashi, and be careful not to open up his chest.
Wakatakakage vs Ura – Back to back Onami brothers, a solid draw for the second half of day 3 in Nagoya. I am sure they are hoping for a picture of Wakamotoharu passing Wakatakakage the chikara mizu. I admit, I want to see that too. Ura tries to get his first ever win over Wakatakakage and I think he is as inventive today as he was day 2 against Abi, he has a chance.
Abi vs Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi has a 9-3 career advantage over Abi, and he was one of the first to get a solid combo to break the Abi double arm thrusting attack consistently. Mitakeumi seems to be hit or miss right now, and his lack of training (due to injury) in the run up to Nagoya is certainly a cause for concern. Both are 1-1 to start today.
Takakeisho vs Kotonowaka – I continue to eagerly await the return of Takakeisho’s famous double arm mega-thrusts. We have not seen it in many months, and it’s why his performance has been flagging. I am going to assume it is somehow related to an injury. If Kotonowaka can take him down today, that will be all 3 Ozeki scalps, which will make him eligible for a “bonus life” the the boss fight.
Kiribayama vs Shodai – What is sumo going to do with Shodai? He has proven that when he is healthy, engaged and eating plenty of boogers he can with matches against anyone. But none of that seems to be happening, not even the boogers. He has a 7-2 career record over Kiribayama, but that may not matter today.
Terunofuji vs Takanosho – I would love to see a repeat of his 2 to technique. Lock up Takanosho and just grind him down until he’s limp, rubbery and ready to be placed in a greased cookie sheet, then handed over to Tamawashi for frosting.