Tonight is when the basho should get serious. The heavy-hitting, big guns take aim at each other tonight through senshuraku. Terunofuji still leads with Ichinojo but he will begin to face the meet of his schedule tonight while Ichinojo will face…checks notes…Nishikigi. These are the situations that completely overturn our preconceptions, where the odds makers go broke and the 100:1 brings home the Kentucky Derby. On with today’s preview.
Mitoryu vs. Tsurugisho: Mitoryu will visit from Juryo while Tsurugisho hopes to avoid dropping back into the second division. With Chiyomaru and Daiamami’s make-koshi already, it looks like there will be at least two open positions. Ryuden is firm in his promotion while Mitoryu will be auditioning to take a slot. Tsurugisho will likely be safe with one more win but he may drop if he loses all of his bouts. As such, I expect this to be a hot one. Even better, both men are migi yotsu-style wrestlers, so it’s strength versus strength. I wouldn’t be surprised to see tricks at the tachiai or a long lean-fest, or both!
Terutsuyoshi vs. Oho: Terutsuyoshi will have an up-hill battle. Oho comes into this bout with an opportunity to claim his first kachi-koshi record in the top division. He’s also got a significant size advantage. Oho’s a pusher-thruster so he’ll not be looking to catch Terutsuyoshi for a throw, but to beat him with tsuppari or shove him out. It is a first-time meeting so Terutsuyoshi’s novelty and tricks might give Oho fits but Oho beat Enho both times they faced in Juryo. Given the motivation and size factor, I’m expecting an Oho win here tonight.
Yutakayama vs. Midorifuji: Midorifuji is katasukashi-boy. Yutakayama has never won with katasukashi. Neither are particularly strong yotsu-wrestlers, preferring a brawl. Therefore, I expect a wide-ranging brawl, going around the ring. Midorifuji is on the cusp of kachi-koshi, Yutakayama has more work to do so both will be motivated to win. Midorifuji has won their only previous meeting…by katasukashi. I think he picks up win #2 here.
Myogiryu vs. Meisei: Myogiryu has his kachi-koshi. Meisei will secure his tonight. Given the slow pace with all of the kyujo wrestlers, I’ll be half-surprised if one or the other doesn’t take a nap. I expect a quick, forgettable bout.
Chiyotairyu vs. Onosho: Onosho is a bit susceptible to hatakikomi and Chiyotairyu loves to dish it out. Five of Chiyotairyu’s six wins over Onosho have employed the slapdown. So, we’ll expect a pull. The only mystery will be whether Onosho falls for it this time. Even money here.
Shimanoumi vs Chiyomaru: Shimanoumi is having a terrible tournament. Given the kyujo and performance of Juryo wrestlers, though, he’s likely already safe from demotion but the possibility still lies there. He could ensure that with one or two more wins. Chiyomaru is make-koshi from the bottom rank. He’s got the tiniest sliver of hope to remain in the division but I don’t expect him to go at this with as much gusto as Shimanoumi. Both are oshi-tsuki strength, but have some capability on the belt. Shimanoumi is a bit stronger on the belt so I think he’ll go for it and find a way to force Chiyomaru out.
Tochinoshin vs. Chiyoshoma: Double henka. This is it. I may have called this bout this way before but this time it’s really going to happen.
Nishikifuji vs. Tobizaru: Another first-time bout here. Both men are kachi-koshi but Nishikifuji will really want to improve his position on the banzuke and not be in such a perilous position. This will also be prime to claim a few crisp 10,000 yen notes from kensho-kin. Nishikifuji will want to catch Tobizaru and keep him from moving but he’s certainly prone to falling for a pulldown. I’m going against the numbers and against the excitement, though. The odds makers are probably favoring Tobizaru in this one but I’m going with Nishikifuji. It should be a good bout, though.
Daiamami vs. Sadanoumi: Sadanoumi will win this.
Endo vs. Takarafuji: This is a great matchup and the biggest rivalry of the day. After years of Kisenosato vs Kotoshogiku it’s very odd for me to look at this in that same way but I think this could be a classic bout. We’ll get a grapple here, not a brawl, that’s for sure.
Tamawashi vs. Ura: This is Tamawashi’s all day. He’s won 4 of their 5 previous meetings. There will be no novelty here.
Nishikigi vs. Ichinojo: Ichinojo is having a great tournament. Nishikigi started the year in Juryo. Yes, he’s got a kachi-koshi record and has been fighting well recently. Yes, he beat Ichinojo the last time they fought but that was his only victory in seven tries. Ichinojo will want this one more.
Kiribayama vs. Okinoumi: Okinoumi’s longevity has been remarkable. Kiribayama is the up-and-comer and still has a chance at kachikoshi. I think Harumafuji 2.0 claims the win here.
Hokutofuji vs. Abi: Both men are an even 6-6. That’s quite the accomplishment for Hokutofuji but Abi’s eyes are set for a higher level and his capabilities are almost there. Hokutofuji will be sent, tumbling from the dohyo while Abi is on his way to 9 wins.
Hoshoryu vs. Wakamotoharu: This will be a great, entertaining grapple. Hoshoryu will probably pull it out with a throw or a trip but Wakamotoharu has been developing into a real, quality competitor at this level.
Aoiyama vs. Daieisho: Aoiyama will not be pulling his punches today but he will likely execute a full-blown pull. Will Daieisho be ready for it? I think he will.
Takakeisho vs. Shodai: As much as it pains me…well, you likely don’t want to know what I think about Shodai and this great run of his. Regardless, it comes to an end tonight. Takakeisho is no Aoiyama.
Terunofuji vs. Wakatakakage: Wakatakakage has not been having a great tournament. His Ozeki run is pretty much toast and in Terunofuji, he will face an opponent he has not beaten since Juryo…back in Osaka 2020…before Covid really kicked in. If he wants to start a new run, he will really need to win out. Today is THE DAY. Defeating the Yokozuna will get the buzz going again. He’s not going to be foolhardy and let himself get ensnared by those long arms. He’s going to fight smart and wear Terunofuji out. Who are we kidding. Terunofuji is going to win yet another title.