Good grief! We are finally at the final day of act 1! Act 1 in Tachiai terms represents the first block of 5 days of a tournament. The goal of act 1 is scrape off the ring rust, and find out who is hot and who is not.
As odd as it may sound, Ichinojo is the epitome of hot right now in the hot town of Nagoya this summer. The Mongolian Behemoth (as Mortia Hiroshi calls him) has a perfect record, and has overpowered every opponent thus far. I expect him to pick up his first loss today as he faces Yokozuna Terunofuji, but I would not be surprised to see Ichinojo turn in double digits this July when the final tally is known.
There are 9 rikishi was 1-3 records starting today, and poor Terutsuyoshi at 0-4. But we have to make special mention of the san’yaku. Out of the 8 men in the named ranks, three of them have 1-3 records, including one of the Ozeki. Overall the san’yaku record is an embarrassing 15-17. These are the top men in the sport. Only Abi and Terunofuji have winning records to start day 5.
Do not be surprised if the middle weekend does not have a real yusho race, and expect one of the biggest Darwin Funnels ever to start on Saturday. In fact I think the funnel and the leaderboard may overlap until act 3 if not later.
Also of note, Daiamami has returned from kyujo, and so the banzuke imbalance is back and we will have daily Juryo visitors.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Azumaryu vs Daiamami – Welcome back, Daiamami! Time to see how banged up that ankle is. Hopefully it was nothing major, because I think 1-3 Azumaryu wants back in the top division, and he may be willing to beat the stuffing out of people to get there. Daiamami holds a narrow 7-6 lead in their career matches, so expect a fight that will be decided by how hurt Daiamami’s ankle still is.
Onosho vs Oho – First time ever match, mostly because its unusual to see Onosho ranked this low. Both have 2-2 scores, and I am hoping Onosho’s balance problems were mostly due to ring rust. Oho fights well enough, but he has yet to show any real inspiration in his matches. They all seem very rote or mechanical. The man needs to loosen up.
Nishikifuji vs Tsurugisho – These two have met 4 times in Juryo, and have split them 2 each. They have traded wins back and forth, so I am going to call this one an even match. Tsurugisho has an enormous 40kg weight advantage, but Nishikifuji does not seem to mind.
Myogiryu vs Chiyomaru – Both men are at 2-2, and are riding the make/kachi-koshi center line for now. Chiyomaru can occassionally do his “Stand them up – Pull them down” routine right now, but like a bagel left out too long, it’s getting stale fast.
Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyoshoma – Ichiyamamoto has manage to get this far with a 4-0 record, and has never lost to Chiyoshoma. So he may be the leader at the end of day 5, which would be perfect for how sumo tournaments are going these days. Chiyoshoma is fighting well enough at 2-2, but something about a double arm thrust to the face really an disrupt your sumo.
Terutsuyoshi vs Yutakayama – Terutsuyoshi at 0-4 is the last man in the arasoi, and I feel for him. This is the same guy who has in the past turned in some amazing fights, but just can’t seem to summon the mojo to win right now. He is up against 3-1 Yutakayama who has a 7-5 career advantage on the clay.
Kotoshoho vs Takarafuji – 1-3 Takarafuji has not lost to Kotoshoho in 2 prior attempts, and he could really use more wins as early as he can get them. So just maybe he can take one from the Sadogatake man today. Kotoshoho has been ranked as high as M3e in the past, so him floating about this far down the banzuke with a 2-2 record may indicate some mechanical injury.
Chiyotairyu vs Midorifuji – People love the big man / little man sumo format, and it’s the basis for this match. If Chiyotairyu can connect at the tachiai, he acn send Midorifuji into the upper seat. But I am certain that this July, Midorifuji has the better sumo, and we may see Chiyotairyu pick up his 3rd loss today.
Shimanoumi vs Meisei – Neither one of these guys have been able to show us much good sumo yet. They are free to up their performance at any time, and just maybe they will today. Shimanoumi had a terrible 0-3 start, winning his first yesterday on day 4. Maybe that’s the start of a turn around for him.
Tochinoshin vs Nishikigi – I look at this match and have to wonder. They have 9 career fights that Tochinoshin leads 5-4. Nishikigi has a perfect 4-0 record, and seems to be moving very well right now. But he insists on fighting chest to chest, and I just see Tochinoshin getting his left hand outside grip and proceeding to toss Nishikigi about.
Kotoeko vs Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji has a 4-0 career record against Kotoeko, but given how dull Hokutofuji’s sumo has been this far, I hope he really can find his second win of the tournament today.
Aoiyama vs Tobizaru – Both men are 3-1, and they both like mobile, fast-paced contests. I would guess that if Aoiyama fires up the V-Twin and can connect against Tobizaru’s head, that’s the match right there. But I know that sumo’s flying monkey will keep it lively, and if Aoiyama wants to hit him, he needs to find a moment where Tobizaru is not moving.
Okinoumi vs Sadanoumi – Both of these men are 1-3 (you can see the schedulers having fun with numbers again), and Okinoumi is heavily favored with an 11-5 career advantage over speed demon Sadanoumi. Both of them need to tune up their sumo at once, in my opinion. They should be doing quite a bit better than this.
Kotonowaka vs Endo – Having completed his tour of the Ozeki and Yokozuna, it’s time for Kotonowaka to fight some rank and file rikishi. Both of them come into day 5 with 2-2 records, and Endo with a 3-1 career advantage. The one note is that Kotonowaka won their last contest, in March of this year.
Kiribayama vs Takanosho – Takanosho has a 11-1 career record against Kiribayama, and I will be quite surprised if Onigiri-kun can’t rally and overcome his 1-3 crummy sumo badge and put Kiribayama on the clay today. Usually kimarite for this match up is Takanosho with a hearty oshidashi against Kiribayama.
Abi vs Daieisho – Two big thrusters with an even 7-7 career record. This sounds like fun! Daieisho has been struggling thus far to get much offense going in this fights. He can land a big push, but he won a yusho January of 2021 by linking these pushes together into unstoppable combo attacks that flattened everyone. I would love to see him fight like that again.
Wakatakakage vs Hoshoryu – Battle of the up and coming young rikishi. Both are facing disimal 1-3 records, and it’s not too soon to start wondering about Wakatakakage going make-koshi this time out. It would reset his Ozeki clock for 2023, and do quite a bit to shuffle the san’yaku. His sumo is excellent, but he needs one or two step improvements to get to Ozeki in my opinion.
Takakeisho vs Tamawashi – If these two stick to pusher/thruster fighting, things favor Takakeisho quite a bit (11-7). If Tamawashi feels a bit “sporty”, he can grab the Ozeki’s mawashi and stand a very good chance of disabling any offense the Grand Tadpole might use.
Wakamotoharu vs Shodai – Both of these rikishi have 1-3 records to start the day. The fact that I have to wonder if an Ozeki is going to be able to best a Maegashira 4 underscores just how busted the top ranks are as of today. They still have plenty of time to get it together. But this is a shame.
Ura vs Mitakeumi – The other kadoban Ozeki gets Ura today. Mitakeumi has never lost to the man in pink, and I don’t know if he will today. But Ura has looked really good the last two days. He may have had some ring rust that he will be able to shed today, and we will see him fighting in good form in act 2.
Terunofuji vs Ichinojo – I know that Ichinojo can beat Terunofuji. I am also fairly sure that he won’t win against the Yokozuna. Ichinojo is intimidated by Terunofuji, and has said so before. I understand, he’s a giant hulking legendary creature, and he’s libel to tear your spine out and show it to you if he gets too cranked up. So I am predicting that this will be Ichinojo’s first loss today.