Day 4, and I am sure the scheduling group is already trying to figure out what to do in the middle weekend. So far nobody except Ichinojo has shown any “break out” potential, and they need to try and construct a yusho race within the next 4 days. The Ozeki are moribund, the Yokozuna is not close to full power, both Sekiwake are at 1-2, and only Abi has managed a winning record at Komusubi. It’s still early days, but this has to be giving them quite the puzzle to crack.
This tournament may be like Natsu this past May: No clear yusho race until day 10.
What We Are Watching Day 4
Onosho vs Chiyomaru – Onosho tends to do well against Chiyomaru, but that may not be the case today. Chiyomaru has honed his slap down to a fine point this July, and Onosho is proving daily that he left his balance in the other akeni back in Chiba. I worry that Onosho is usually “hot” or “cold” and a poorly balanced Onosho at M15 may be Juryo bound unless he can get things in trim. There can be only one answer, send a tsukibeto back to Chiba to get the otehr akeni, and bring that bright red mawashi with you.
Myogiryu vs Nishikifuji – First ever match, mostly because Nishikifuji is so new and Myogiryu has been a top division man since before they invented dirt. Nishikifuji is still getting confidence at this level, but is coming into day 4 with 2-1 record, which is good enough for now. I expect that Myogiryu will attempt a pull or slap down by the third step from the tachiai, so Nishikifuji would be advised to mind his balance.
Yutakayama vs Tsurugisho – Yutakayama had started pretty well, but his day 3 loss to Chiyomaru was a let down. He knew it too, and you could see it on his face following the match. He has a chance to bounce back against Tsurugisho today, but he will have to work hard to get there. Tsurugisho has won 2 of their last 3 match ups, and I am looking for him to try a tsukiotoshi early in the match.
Oho vs Chiyoshoma – Another first ever match up. I am not sure why, but I keep expecting Oho to be a bit more dominant than he has turned out thus far. I wonder if this is about as high as we are going to see him any time soon. I almost wonder if he’s too bulky for his sumo, as it sort of seems like he is.
Kotoshoho vs Ichiyamamoto – Ichiyamamoto is unbeaten so far, and that surprises me a little. But only a little because he had an impressive 5-0 start in May, but only managed an 8-7 final score. Injury? Personally, I would love to see Kotoshoho elevate his sumo and become a middle / upper Maegashira mainstay, but he’s not ready for that yet. Ichiyamamoto leads the series 4-1.
Chiyotairyu vs Takarafuji – I continue to worry that both of these guys are too injured to fight properly, maybe for the rest of their careers. It would be a shame in that Takarafuji has / had the best defense in all of sumo, and Chiyotairyu had one of the biggest tachiai’s I have seen in a decade. Normally this would be a great clash of styles, but I worry both men are too banged up to give us a proper show of skill.
Terutsuyoshi vs Meisei – One of these days, Terutsuyoshi is going to win his first match. It may as well be today. He holds a 6-3 career record over Meisei, including 4 of the last 5. Could I enter a request for a hearty shitatehineri?
Midorifuji vs Kotoeko – Both men come into today’s match with 2-1 records, and both of them are compact power-house rikishi. Kotoeko has won both of their prior matches, both with *dashi techniques. Some pushing and shoving today, shall we predict?
Shimanoumi vs Hokutofuji – Ah, this might appear like a “duds and spuds” match to most, but it might be to see which one of these two can earn their place to compete for the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo. Most would rightfully say, “None can ever best Hokutofuji!”, and they may be right. But given the fabulous prizes that come with the title, its long since past the diem someone else vie for it.
Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – Oh goodie, the schedulers are starting to put the 3-0 rikishi against each other, trying to narrow the number with perfect scores. This is a nice match in that Nishikigi will attempt to apply his favored battle-hug, and Aoiyama will likely try to stay mobile and use his awesome tsuppari technique to bludgeon Nishikigi into submission. Bring it on!
Tochinoshin vs Tobizaru – Tobizaru certainly seems to have a good formula for taking away each and every one of Tochinoshin’s strong move, putting him in a losing position and finishing him off. He holds a 3-1 career lead over the former Ozeki, and he tends to come at bigger opponents (like Tochinoshin) with a lot of speed, and multi-path branching combo attacks. It can give you a headache trying to figure it out, so just do what I do. Watch and smile.
Endo vs Okinoumi – Twenty two career matches, with Endo having a narrow 12-10 lead over Okinoumi. This match will come down to who is more banged up right now. Both have 1-2 records before the tachiai, and may struggle to find 8 this July in the Nagoya head.
Tamawashi vs Sadanoumi – I have to wonder what they are doing with this match. We have 3-0 Tamawashi, and 0-3 Sadanoumi. Yes, Sadanoumi who had an 11-4 jun-yusho in May is struggling to find his first win. He has a 9-4 career advantage over Tamawashi, so maybe this is his best change to pick up his first white star. Tamawashi is unbeaten at 3-0.
Wakamotoharu vs Ura – Wakamotoharu has never lost to Ura in their three match history. Both are 1-2 starting day 3, not really showing excellent sumo yet. I think Ura struggles with Wakamotoharu because he presents a very compact attack profile to Ura’s brand of sumo. He does not offer stray arms or legs to grab and tug. He is not usually taking large steps or spreading his limbs. But maybe today is the day Ura finds a way to put him on the clay.
Wakatakakage vs Abi – Much as I think Wakatakakage is going to be a big deal soon, I would like to see him get spanked quite a bit this basho. So I am pulling for Abi to pick up his first ever win against the future Ozeki.
Takanosho vs Daieisho – Both of these fine rikishi are having a tough start in Nagoya. At 1-2 each, they are both in a bit of a hole now. The winner will pull of even at 2-2, the loser will go to 1-3 and have a lot of work to do. They have a 7-6 career record that slightly favors Takanosho, including him winning 4 of the last 5, but neither one of them has really been able to fight with “their brand of sumo” yet this July.
Hoshoryu vs Shodai – When you go to see a movie like Titanic. You know that boat is going to sink and a lot of people are going to die. This feels a bit like that. Is Shodai capable of chucking Hoshoryu into the front you. He is. Will he be able to do it today, or anything similar for the next 11 days? I now doubt it. I hate it when we have Ozekiwake, but it seems we may have at least one.
Kiribayama vs Mitakeumi – Or maybe make that two. Mitakeumi has an even 5-5 record against Kiribayama, so we know the kadoban Ozeki knows how to win matches against him, but Mitakeumi is in the worst condition of his sumo career is my guess. I want nothing more than the Original Tadpole to clear kadoban, but he’s going to need some extra mojo to get there.
Takakeisho vs Ichinojo – Probably the most interesting match of the day. Ichinojo is in the best form I have seen him in for a long time. Takakeisho is probably good enough right now to make his 8. He has a 9-6 career record against The Boulder, but I honestly wonder if Takakeisho’s reduced pushing power might not be enough to move Ichinojo at this point. All it takes is one giant meaty hand on that mawashi, and Takakeisho starts to look an awful lot like a bowling ball.
Terunofuji vs Kotonowaka – Kotonowaka is slowly putting together the sumo presence to beat someone like Terunofuji. We know that right now by his 0-3 record, he is not quite there yet. Terunofuji is, at best, at 75% normal kaiju power, so Kotonowaka may have a chance today to sneak in a kinboshi.