I think it is a good sign that many of the rikishi who had yet to win a match picked up their first white star today. There are still 5 in competition without a win, and that balances against the five rikishi without a loss at the end of day 3. There are four days to go before the middle weekend, and there will need to be some kind of yusho race starting to emerge by the end of nakabi.
Of course 2 of the 3 Ozeki continue to drop matches like they are mae-zumo recruits still trying to figure out how to shiko. Maybe a more coherent grumble on that on for this afternoon’s preview.
The group of unbeaten rikishi was narrowed today when Kotonowaka failed to best Takakeisho, but I have to give special mention to Ichinojo. When that guy is healthy and rested, he can just have his way with nearly anyone. I know he will lose to Terunofuji, as he is completely intimidated by the Yokozuna, but he is fighting very well right now.
Chiyomaru defeats Yutakayama – As predicted, Chiyomaru’s strategy was to lift then pull early in the match. I can’t believe Yutakayama fell for it. Actually if you look at the footage, Yutakayama can’t believe he fell for it either. Yutakayama picks up his first loss, and both end the day 2-1.
Nishikifuji defeats Oho – Impressive that Nishikifuji was denied twice his win by Oho’s solid defense, but he continued to press forward. I am aware that everyone expects Oho to eventually be a big deal, and maybe he will. But this far I just don’t see excellence. I see strong Juryo level sumo, but not really top division class work – yet. Nishikifuji gamberizes for all he is worth, and gets the win to advance to 2-1.
Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Onosho picks up his first win of July. He had a solid tachiai, but was once again too far forward, but had good hand placement against Myogiryu’s body. Myogiryu thought he had this one easy, and pulled Onosho forward and down. To his credit, Onosho was able to work with this, and used the pull to ram Myogiryu center mass, sending him out before Onosho himself exited the ring. He improves to 1-2.
Takarafuji defeats Tsurugisho – Takarafuji picks up his first win after Tsurugisho does not pay attention to his foot place.. Tsurugisho attacks well, but has his feet aligned by the third step, and that’s not a mistake to make around Takarafuji. He loads the throw and sends Tsurugisho to the clay for his first win.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Terutsuyoshi – I really liked the attempt at the leg sweep that Terutsuyoshi threw into that match. But appart from that bold move, Terutsuyoshi had zero offense, and Ichiyamamoto pushed him around with his double arm thrusts and sent him over the salt basket and out into the crowd. A 3-0 start to Nagoya for Ichiyamamoto, and still no wins for Terutsuyoshi.
Midorifuji defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma got a left hand inside grip at the tachiai, and set to work getting Midorifuji under control. Midorifuji did not have much of a grip in return, but kept low, and maintained enough pressure on Chiyoshoma that Chiyoshoma could not really finish off Midorifuji. This evolved into a protracted strength contest, with Midorifuji being the aggressor and Chiyoshoma trying to wait him out. Chiyoshoma decided to try to win before he had consolidated or improved his position. Chiyoshoma nearly prevailed, but a swift throw in reverse gave Midorifuji the win to end the day 2-1. Solid match from both.
Kotoshoho defeats Chiyotairyu – Sauce for the goose – Chiyotairyu receives a perfect copy of the combo that he has used for most of his matches in the last 6 months: stand them up then slap them down. It’s not great sumo, but it did give Kotoshoho his second win to improve to 2-1.
Kotoeko defeats Meisei – Meisei attacks out of the tachiai, and has Kotoeko on the bales. But somehow Kotoeko finds enough room to pivot and throw Meisei to the clay with his right hand inside grip. I had to watch it a few times myself, that was some surprising sumo. Kotoeko improves to 2-1.
Tochinoshin defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi is part of the winless crew, and is not really able to perform quality sumo right now. Maybe some injury. Tochinoshin makes fast work of him with a hatakikomi on the second step from the tachiai. Tochinoshin improves to 2-1.
Nishikigi defeats Hokutofuji – They traded pull attempts in their opening moves, neither of which had any effect. Nishikigi followed up with a right hand inside, and suddenly Hokutofuji seems to have forgotten his defensive sumo. Unable to hold ground, Hokutofuji was marched back and placed over the bales by Nishikigi. He remains part of the no-loss group at 3-0.
Aoiyama defeats Okinoumi – In the first of two battles of grizzled veterans, we had a very sloppy match. A good tachiai from both, Aoiyama pulled and looked to be in trouble, but both men lost traction and fell to the clay, Okinoumi landing first. Aoiyama manages to keep a perfect record at 3-0.
Tobizaru defeats Sadanoumi – I think Sadanoumi was pivoting for a throw, but did not have his hands in position or his feet set. As a result, Sadanoumi’s sumo went all directions at the same time. Tobizaru scooped up the mess and escorted Sadanoumi out of the ring, improving to 2-1.
Tamawashi defeats Endo – The second battle of the grizzled, we get treated to Tamawashi’s “who are you and why are you hear?” routine. He dismisses Endo utterly, bundling him up and shoving him back from where he came from (West side cushions). Tamawashi remains unbeaten at 3-0.
Ichinojo defeats Hoshoryu – A rested Ichinojo is a fearsome rikishi. He systemically dismantled Hoshoryu a piece at a time, and had the size, strength and stamina to maintain control as he tightened his grip bit by bit. Hoshoryu worked hard to keep Ichinojo away from his mawashi, but once the Boulder had that left hand deep, it was all over and even Hoshoryu knew there was no stoping him. Ichinojo now 3-0.
Daieisho defeats Wakamotoharu – Daieisho picks up his first win by a clever escape and counter-attack combo at the tawara. Wakamotoharu opened strong and was delivering force center-mass to Daieisho, and Daieisho could not hold his ground. With Wakamotoharu advancing, Daieisho pivoted and thrust Wakamotoharu down. Daieisho improves to 1-2.
Wakatakakage defeats Ura – Wakatakakage picks up his first win of Nagoya, by staying focused and keeping his body compact and low. He left Ura no spot to grab and no appendage to tug. From there it was power against power, and when Ura pivoted to his right, Wakatakakage poured on the pressure and ran him out. 1-2 for Wakatakakage.
Abi defeats Mitakeumi – Its wild to watch Abi be such a flailing mess of a human being, and ultimately dominate an Ozeki like that. But I guess it’s that he’s concentrating on his double arm thrusts against Mitakeumi’s neck and face, and the rest of his body does whatever it take to ramp up the pressure flowing through those arms. Abi improves to 2-1.
Takakeisho defeats Kotonowaka – At least Takakeisho can still manage to muster a reduced form of his Ozeki sumo. He puts a lot of power into his attack and breaks through Kotonowaka’s defenses. No third Ozeki scalp for you, young rising star. Takakeisho improves to 2-1.
Kiribayama defeats Shodai – This is the third consecutive basho where Shodai has lost his first 3 matches. Ever since his jun-yusho in January of 2021, he’s not been in solid fighting form. Its a shame to watch a rikishi with that much talent wither away as he is. Kiribayama locks up Shodai, gets him turned to the side and runs him out the ring for an okuridashi. He improves to 2-1.
Terunofuji defeats Takanosho – There were at least three places where Takanosho could have won that match, but Terunofuji stayed upright, balanced and in the fight. Clearly the Yokozuna is not fighting as well as he had recently, but today he picked up that win because he was able to stay in the fight, and take an opening and turn the match to his advantage. I did like how he bodily threw Takanosho down to finish. Nice touch. Terunofuji 2-1.