Wow, already at the end of act 1, are we? This is the start of day 5, and this is where we will find out if we can get anyone through the first act with a perfect record. I have a couple of people I think will end the day with 5-0, and I have to call out to Tamawashi. What are they feeding this guy? At 37 he is one of the older guys in sumo. He’s been through a lot in career, including a lot of injuries. But here he is with a stellar start to the 2022 Aki Basho, and I feel confident he will have at least 8 wins on senshuraku.
Do I think he could take the cup? It’s possible, he has done it before. He would have to thread a rather gristly needle over the next few days to open that path. He has two more Ozeki to fight, and today he gets Terunofuji. While I think we may see someone else hoist the cup a week from Sunday, I am cheering stout fellow on.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Mitoryu vs Hiradoumi – For a change the Juryo visitor is not the first match in the top division. We get these two guys with mirror image records instead. Sadly Mitoryu (1-3) has only found a single win so far this September, while Hiradoumi (3-1) has greatly exceeded my expectations. He picked up his first loss on day 4 when he swallowed that Chiyoshoma henka whole. I think he’s going to bounce back strong today.
Atamifuji vs Yutakayama – Welcome Atamifuji to your top division match. He comes in with a 2-2 record and gets to face a floundering 1-3 Yutakayama. This is their first ever contest, so it’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen. There are lot of folks in sumo fandom who are eager to see Atamifuji join the Maegashira ranks, so this might be a good chance to preview that eventual promotion.
Chiyoshoma vs Tsurugisho – I do not expect 3-1 Chiyoshoma to deploy a henka today. He probably used that for this basho or maybe only this week. He has a 4-4 record against 1-3 Tsurugisho, who is fighting rather poorly right now, and I would not be surprised to find out he has some kind of lower body injury. There is a huge size gap, around 60kg between the two, so I expect this match to come down to Chiyoshoma working to get a throw going. Out of their 2 prior matches this year, Tsurugisho has won them both.
Terutsuyoshi vs Oho – I really don’t want to see Terutsuyoshi get bounced down the banzuke for November. But at the moment I think he’s pretty much on that path right now unless something strange happens. Worse yet, he’s up against Oho who is part of the elusive 4-0 club.
Okinoumi vs Ryuden – This will be a real contest, I expect. Both of them are flexible multi-mode fighters, and I would give a slight advantage to Okinoumi due to his massive experience. The 5-4 record bears this out. Okinoumi took their last match in January of 2021 by katasukashi.
Kotoshoho vs Ichiyamamoto – Have you guessed the them for today? Its 1-3 vs 3-1 day. Here we go again with 1-3 Kotoshoho against 3-1 Ichiyamamoto, and Ichiyamamoto has a 5-1 career advantage over Kotoshoho. Right now Kotoshoho looks completely lost, and I am hoping he can just find a way to get to 8 wins somehow, but I fear this is not going to be possible.
Nishikifuji vs Chiyotairyu – Its 3-1 Nishikifuji against 1-3 Chiyotairyu. Will sumo’s thunder god pick up a second win against the much smaller (30kg) Nishikifuji? He won their only prior match. Nishikifuji needs to find a way to survive that initial blast, then he may have a chance to get to work.
Myogiryu vs Takanosho – I was surprised when Onigiri-kun (aka Takanosho) was beaten by Nishikifuji on day 4. He has a healthy 5-2 career advantage over 2-2 Myogiryu. Takanosho had risen far enough up the banzuke (Sekiwake) that he has not faced Myogiryu since November of 2021. So I am looking forward to this match to see if Takanosho still has what it takes.
Kotoeko vs Hokutofuji – White-hot 4-0 Hokutofuji has not had a start this good since Kyushu of 2011, where he also opened 4-0. If he wins today over 1-3 Kotoeko (who he has never lost to), it will be his best start since his Aki 2018 9-6 finish. Hokutofuji has the chops to really excel in the top division, but I have always assumed that his injuries were too overwhelming for him to live up to his potential. Looking forward to see how far he can take it.
Aoiyama vs Onosho – Career record of 6-6 is not going to be a predictor for today, as Aoiyama is no where near capable of fighting in the top division right now. He has an 0-4 start, and has to give ground when he gets even moderate pressure. Onosho is the master of overwhelming front attack, so I predict this may be a quick match, unless Aoiyama can catch him too far forward at the tachiai and push him down before he takes his second step.
Tochinoshin vs Endo – A pair of veterans face off with a nearly even 8-9 record on the clay. Tochinoshin at 2-2 has the size advantage and Endo at 1-3 has the creativity and agility advantage. So far Endo has looked well below what I expect from his sumo, so maybe he is part of the “silent injured” crowd. The last 3 matches between them (all in 2021) have gone to Endo. Maybe today is the day he can bounce back.
Takarafuji vs Sadanoumi – With Takarafuji (0-4) having a 14-5 career advantage over Sadanoumi (2-2), this looks a lot like a chance for Takarafuji to put his first win on the scoreboard. I mark him in the “silent injured” list as well, as he should have won at least one match by now if he were healthy. The Isegahama guys seem to be pretty well banged up right now. Maybe that afternoon playing dodgeball with bowling alley rejects was not such a good plan…
Wakamotoharu vs Takayasu – This one really has my interest. You have 3-1 Takayasu who seems to have settled into his calm and powerful sumo groove going up against 4-0 Wakamotoharu. Wakamotoharu has already bested a number of opponents I thought he might lose to (Endo, Takarafuji), so maybe he can find a way to dispatch Takayasu as well. Or maybe all of his prior opponents were injured, and it’s only today that he’s going to face someone genki. Can’t wait to find out.
Nishikigi vs Midorifuji – As much as I suspect that Nishikigi (2-2) is over-ranked at the moment, now that he is up here, I want to see him kachi-koshi, just for the fun of it. He and Midorifuji (1-3) share a career record of 2-3, so it’s not out of the question that Nishikigi can beat him, in fact he won their last match, in Nagoya, with a kimedashi.
Kiribayama vs Ichinojo – Oh yes, a Mongol fight with up and coming star Kiribayama facing down “The Boulder”. Both men are 2-2, and Ichinojo is not looking nearly as genki as he did in July. But he is still enormous, and he has more than a couple of ways to win a match. He has a narrow 4-3 career record against Kiribayama, who last won against him in Osaka this year with an okuridashi.
Wakatakakage vs Tobizaru – I am not sure what to make of this. First off, I think that Wakamotoharu (1-3) may have stolen his brother’s mojo, and that is a shame. I also think that Tobizaru (2-2) is starting to put the pieces together, and he may become a staple of the named ranks for a time if he can become consistent. Wakatakakage has a 6-4 career lead, but that may not matter this time, as his sumo has been in the ditch since opening day.
Daieisho vs Hoshoryu – We set aside the mirror image theme for a while, but here it is for one last bow. We have 1-3 Daieisho against 3-1 Hoshoryu, with them having an even 2-2 career record. I have knocked Hoshoryu in the past for having a bit of an inflated self-image, but he has been fighting quite well at the top of Makuuchi, and that’s worth some credit to be certain. He has yet to face any Ozeki or the Yokozuna yet, so some of this big fights are yet to come.
Takakeisho vs Meisei – This should be a big, quick shove out from Takakeisho. But I think that we are not seeing him really use his primary weapon at this point is because he is too hurt, or too heavy to actually employ it. If that is the case, Meisei has an opening to take a win from the top Ozeki for September.
Ura vs Mitakeumi – Hoo boy, kadoban Ozeki Mitakeumi has to face a rather genki Ura. As we have already seen, a genki Ura can do quite a bit of surprising sumo, and the fact that he has one win against Mitakeumi shows that he can even provide his crazy sumo when the opponent is as large as this Ozeki is. This will will be “don’t miss” sumo in my book.
Kotonowaka vs Shodai – Shodai has had a dismal start to this basho. He and Kotonowaka are 1-3, and I would not be surprised to see him at 1-4 at the end of the day, as Shodai has never beaten Kotonowaka in 4 tries. So this is a tall order for Shodai, who tends to have cold starts. In fact the recent act 1 scores for him are 1-4 for Osaka, Natsu and Nagoya this year.
Terunofuji vs Tamawashi – The big match is the final match today. We have Yokozuna Terunofuji in less than good form up against I would say the early contender for the leaderboard this weekend. Terunofuji has an 11-8 career record against Tamawashi, and yes – Tamawashi has beaten him since he became Yokozuna. If he wins this one, Tamawashi will be the man to beat for the top slot for our first leaderboard on Sunday.