Natsu Day 4 Preview

Day 4 brings us a great slate of matches, and I have to think that Takarafuji vs Endo could be the jewel of the torikumi. But Mitakeumi vs Terunofuji will bring two rikishi with spotless records together with only one advancing to 4-0. This will be a tough one for Terunofuji, as Mitakeumi will work to put as much lateral / oblique energy into this match as possible. With Terunofuji’s knees little more than bags of old chicken bones and spent reactor fuel rods, the Ozeki will struggle to with any lateral attacks.

On to the matches!

What We Are Watching Day 4

Kaisei vs Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu is certainly looking strong right now, and in this top division opener, we will see if the high-mass Chiyotairyu can best the even more massive Kaisei. There will be almost 400 kg on the dohyo to start the day, and with Kaisei moving especially slowly this basho, he will have no choice but to try to absorb Chiyotairyu’s cannon-ball tachiai. These two have a 21 match history, with Kaisei holding a 16-5 lead.

Akiseyama vs Ishiura – Ishiura is a small but potent fellow. But this first week he has had to face down some large fellows, and he’s perpetually at a disadvantage, it seems. Today he’s got 183kg Akiseyama, whose physique makes it tough for anyone, let along someone Ishiura’s size, to get any kind of hold. Both come into today 1-2, and are both in need of finding a win. It may be time to see some better evasion along with some hit-and-move sumo from Ishiura.

Akua vs Daiamami – Another battle of 1-2 rikishi. This one is much closer in size, but to my eye, Daiamami is fighting slightly better this May. I would expect him to get a first step advantage, but he may not be able to keep it.

Kotoeko vs Chiyomaru – Its a battle of 2-1 rikishi.. do we see the pattern now? In a classic big vs littler, or giant round bulbous human sack of protoplasm vs a compact, athletic guy, we will see if Chiyomaru can keep Kotoeko centered and in front of him while he slaps Kotoeko around and moves forward, belly first. Kotoeko’s job will be to take the match momentum and keep it moving to the left and to the right, never letting Chiyomaru drive forward.

Okinoumi vs Chiyoshoma – Ranked down at M12w, we suspected that Okinoumi would wreck most of his competition, and so far coming up to day 4, that seems to be holding true. But Chiyoshoma may be a different matter. Okinoumi has a perfect 3-0 record going into day 4, but I think Chiyoshoma is fighting well enough that he can give him a good fight today. These two have not matched since 2018.

Tamawashi vs Kotonowaka – Tamawashi is another long serving vet coming into day 4 with a perfect 3-0 record. My biggest hope for this match is that Tamawashi does not break out the “arm breaker” kotenage. I would rate Kotonowaka’s chances slim to very slim today.

Terutsuyoshi vs Kagayaki – What is it going to take to get Kagayaki to win a match? This guy has been on the skids since July of last year, and he has resumed his slide this May. I really like his fundamentals-focused sumo, but he seems to be lacking about 30% of his normal power. So I would expect Terutsuyoshi to out-class dear old Kagayaki today, and it’s going to make me a bit sad for him.

Tsurugisho vs Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi scored his first win on day 3, and I am hoping this means he is back in touch with “his brand” of sumo. He had potential to be a San’yaku regular, if he can gain consistency. He and Tsurugisho are nearly even with a 3-4 career recored.

Endo vs Takarafuji – Now this is a high interest match indeed! Two vets, both fighting well with matching 2-1 records. The last 4 matches they have traded wins back and forth. So I am hoping that we get a big clash of Endo’s precision sumo and Takarafuji’s defend and extend.

Hidenoumi vs Tochinoshin – Part of me really wants Tochinoshin to not have to try and piece together 8 wins by hook or by crook every 2 months. I worried about this outcome from the time he rose to Ozeki. The guy’s body is in shambles, but he’s still a high skill rikishi with a healthy fighting sprit. Though if Hidenoumi can take him down today, it will be a bit sad.

Ichinojo vs Onosho – Now this is a lovely puzzle. Onosho, as genki as he is, is not quite strong enough to go straight tadpole on the Boulder. But then again, I don’t think Ichinojo reacts well to Onosho’s frantic sumo. If Ichinojo can tangle up Onosho before he can get the big push going, it will be Onosho’s first loss of Natsu.

Kiribayama vs Hoshoryu – Kiribayama can’t buy a win right now. With 0-3 he is possibly one of the saddest cases in the top division. Ranked at M4e, he was bound to have a bit of a rough ride no matter what. But this is going to be quite something if he continues to drop matches. Hoshoryu is likewise at a career high of M5e, and may be struggling to hold his own. At least one of these guys are going to come away with a win today.

Chiyonokuni vs Daieisho – I keep hoping to see Chiyonokuni rally and start winning with strength and confidence. But after he limped away from the dohyo on day 3, I think we may see the kyujo banner for him sooner rather than later. it’s a shame too, as he has put a huge effort into bouncing back from problems with that very same knee. I think Daieisho is going to spank him today, if Chiyonokuni is not already kyujo.

Takayasu vs Wakatakakage – This is a delightful contrast match. Takayasu is back to being wild, out of control, and uniquely powerful. The last few days has shown Wakatakakage to be focused, in control and displaying a dogged determination to gain advantage at every turn. Wakatakakage holds a 3-1 career advantage, so we might see Takayasu take his first loss today.

Myogiryu vs Takanosho – Myogiryu has to be hurt. There is no way he should be 0-3 at this point, unless he has something physically limiting his sumo. Takanosho has won 2, and seems to have shaken off his ring rust. I would prefer to see Myogiryu put up a good fight, but if he’s hurt, I don’t think we are going to see it.

Shodai vs Tobizaru – To his credit, Tobizaru did manage to beat Takanosho, which is no easy mark. I think that Shodai, even with his challenges with sumo mechanics, is going to put him away today. There may be some additional “Cartoon Sumo” or “Did you see that?” elements to the match, so be paying close attention.

Meisei vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho already has his first black star, thanks to Mitakeumi. But he is fighting well enough that 8 should be no problem for him, and we might even see him contest for the cup in week 2. Meisei is a stop along that road, and I do not thing he will put up more than token opposition.

Asanoyama vs Hokutofuji – Normally I would say, “Asanoyama, can-do easy”. But Asanoyama is not quite himself right now. As the lead Ozeki, he should be dominating every match. Instead he comes into day 4 with a 1-2 record trending make-koshi. Of course his opponent is the man with the most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo. So maybe today will be two great rikishi fighting like lions, and both coming close to losing. Asanoyama holds a 9-2 career record, but I am not going to try to handicap this one.

Mitakeumi vs Terunofuji – Both are coming in with perfect 3-0 records, and one will pick up their first loss. I suspect it will be Mitakeumi, but he has a fair chance to overwhelm Terunofuji if he can get to the side or behind the Ozeki. If Terunofuji can keep Mitakeumi centered, it’s his match to win.

Natsu Day 3 Highlights

With day 3 in the books, its time to wonder if we will see fans in the Kokugikan starting day 4 as the NSK plans, or if the blanket state of emergency will keep people home, and the stadium eerily quiet. While I am enjoying the boom camera, I am among the people who find the empty hall unsettling. Sumo is meant to be enjoyed with thousands of screaming fans, including some extra loud school kids up in the rafters calling out the names of rikishi. Having been blessed with a few chances to watch sumo in person, I have to admit that I love it all. The aussies with the case of brews two rows down, the tourists there for the first time who show up early (around the start of Sandanme) and wonder what all the fuss is about, all of it. I hope and pray sumo comes back to its natural form before everyone forgets how.

Oh, and whomever was calling the kimarite today was clearly drunk or phoning it in.

Highlight Matches

Akua defeats Ishiura – Ishiura makes the bold decision to engage chest to chest against Akua, who is not a mawashi fighter. He finds a good hold, but can’t muster the moves to really turn it into a win. After a short time, it’s clear that Akua is the one controlling the match, and Ishiura then tries but cannot find a way to escape. Both finish the day 1-2.

Chiyomaru defeats Kaisei – Another fast win from Chiyomaru. He was able to completely disrupt Kaisei’s balance with an opening nodowa. He converted that by moving beside Kaisei and rolling him along tawara. Chiyomaru improves to 2-1.

Chiyotairyu defeats Akiseyama – Chiyotairyu went full force into the tachiai, as is his custom. Akiseyama was looking to get a mawashi grip in response, but came away with nothing. Although Chiyotairyu had a clear route to center-mass, he could not move Akiseyama. Chiyotairyu converted to a left hand inside, Akiseyama tried to set up a throw, and the release of pressure was enough for Chiyotairyu to run him out. Chiyotairyu is unbeaten at 3-0 to start Natsu.

Okinoumi defeats Daiamami – Daiamami had control of the match early, but lost advantage when Okinoumi changed up his grip, resulting in moro-zashi, and moments later a yori-kiri. Okinoumi joins the 3-0 club for the start of May.

Kotonowaka defeats Chiyoshoma – Kotonowaka picks up his first win of the basho, smoothly converting an off balance tachiai from Chiyoshoma into a kotenage. Both end the day 1-2.

Kotoeko defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi drove hard against Kotoeko’s “stand up” tachiai. Clearly he was worried about a Terutsuyoshi henka. The two exchanged pull down attempts, with Kotoeko’s pull finding its mark, sending Terutsuyoshi tumbling out. Kotoeko improves to 2-1.

Shimanoumi defeats Kagayaki – In the contest of the zero-win rikishi, it is Shimanoumi who comes out on top. Kagayaki had a strong tachiai, and was attacking well. Shimanoumi managed to get a right hand inside, and converted that into a win. Once again Kagayaki looks to be fighting well enough, but can’t find a way to win.

Tamawashi defeats Endo – Any time I see Tamawashi go for a kotenage, I just want to stop the match. Here he takes a turn attacking Endo’s face, gets frustrated and goes for the “arm-breaker”. Luckily I think nothing bad happened to Endo. Tamawashi remains in the 3-0 club.

Takarafuji defeats Tochinoshin – Takarafuji normal pattern of letting the match evolve was nowhere to be found today. The two were fighting for control of the match in the early moments when Tochinoshin reached forward to grab Takarafuji’s head, and pull. Takarafuji responded with a strong advance that ran Tochinoshin out of the ring. Takarafuji improves to 2-1.

Tsurugisho defeats Ichinojo – The match started with a rare event, an Ichinojo false start. This seemed to really throw whatever plan he had out of mind. In the second attempt, Ichinojo rushed forward, but not strongly. Tsurugisho caught him almost tenderly and swung him around to escort him out. That’s Tsurugisho’s first win, improving to 1-2.

Onosho defeats Hoshoryu – Onosho has had a few deep make-koshi in the past, and tends to come roaring back the following tournament. Today he takes that overflowing genki energy and blasts Hoshoryu out of the ring into one of the shimpan. Onosho stays with the 3-0 group, and looks to be in some of his best form in a while. Look at his foot placement as he drives Hoshoryu out…

Hidenoumi defeats Myogiryu – This is the first time that Hidenoumi has ever beaten Myogiryu. The match started with a lot of power from Myogiryu, but Hidenoumi was able to stalemate him at the center of the ring. A nice makke-kai from Myogiryu gave him a double inside grip, and Hidenoumi went on the attack, winning with a yoritaoshi as Myogiryu dropped to the clay.

Mitakeumi defeats Chiyonokuni – Mitakeumi opened strong, and Chiyonokuni found he had no answer. The only thing that seemed to present itself was to pull, and Mitakeumi responded by rushing forward and taking the match. Mitakeumi improves to 3-0 while Chiyonokuni remains winless, and possibly hurt.

Takanosho defeats Kiribayama – Points to Kiribayama for opening large, taking a vigorous opening combo to Takanosho at the tachiai. But Takanosho is just too balanced for the attack to work, and responds with a right hand inside. Kiribayama stays winless as Takanosho improves to 2-1.

Takayasu defeats Meisei – Another day of Takayasu running around wild on the dohyo. But hey, he’s 3-0 and its working for him. I would be tempted to say wait until he faces the Ozeki, they will tune him up, but it seems the Ozeki are once again hit or miss this basho.

Takakeisho defeats Hokutofuji – Without a doubt, Hokutofuji is on course for “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All of Sumo” once more. He was strong against Takakeisho, who pushed and shoved him with a lot of power, and took him over the bales after a valiant last stand by Hokutofuji. Hokutofuji is winless at 0-3 while Takakeisho improves to 2-1.

Wakatakakage defeats Asanoyama – I admit, prior to the tournament, I thought Asanoyama had his act together. I picked him for the yusho (see, they really are regrettable predictions!) but he’s a hot mess right now, just as he has been at the start of other basho in the past year. Wakatakakage opened with a henka, then boldly attacks the Ozeki on the mawashi. Asanoyama surprised me by not being able to overcome the smaller Wakatakakage on a yotsu-zumo battle. Lead Ozeki down to 1-2 as Wakatakakage picks up his second Ozeki scalp.

Terunofuji defeats Tobizaru – I have no idea what kind of awesome match plan Tobizaru mounted the dohyo with today. But Terunofuji was having none of it. I think my the 3rd step, Tobizaru was airborne and the match was done. Terunofuji remains perfect at 3-0.

Shodai defeats Daieisho – Another fine example of Shodai’s cartoon sumo, and it again earns him a win. Truth be told, Daieisho looked to only be about about 75% of normal attack mode, and really failed to keep the pressure on. I did like how both of them stood atop the tawara hoping the other one would fall first. Shodai improves to 2-1.

Natsu Day 3 Preview

Its a day to dust off and re-ignite long time rivalries. The scheduling comittee decided that they wanted to add to career tallies for arch competitors, and the torikumi is thick with history going back all the way to 2012. My only regret is we can’t get Yoshikaze and Harumafuji to suit up and try to kill each other one more time just to top it off.

I find myself puzzled about Asanoyama today. He seems to either be suffering some level of ring rust, or may be one of the rikishi who find the empty hall unsettling. Both his day 1 win against Daieisho and his day 2 loss against Meisei were not Ozeki level sumo to me. I hope that he is able to get it together and be in the running for the cup come week 2. I fear that all of the Ozeki are missing at least one more thing to drive them to higher levels of performance. In the case of Terunofuji it would be a working set of knees. For Takakeisho it would be about 6 more inches of reach, and for Shodai? Well, maybe a better tachiai. This is one reason I think we may not see another Yokozuna any time soon.

What We Are Watching Day 3

Ishiura vs Akua – I am sure that Akua is going to be looking for a hit-and-shift today from Ishiura, after he employed it with great success against Chiyomaru on day 2. These two fought for the first time in March, with the match going to Akua. With a 50 kg mass advantage for Akua, Ishiura is going to need to use speed and guile to get anywhere today.

Kaisei vs Chiyomaru – A battle of mega-fauna for day 3. I expect Chiyomaru to come in with slapping and pushing, and for Kaisei to attempt to be massive and immobile. This could work out for him, as Chiyomaru is only good for about 10 seconds of fighting. So as long as Kaisei can keep stable and in the ring, he will have a tired out Chiyomaru to defeat.

Akiseyama vs Chiyotairyu – The lower third of the bazuke has a host of rikishi who are normally mid to upper Maegashira, who for various reasons find themselves much lower ranked. This may spell trouble for for folks like Akiseyama, who are solid at the lower end of the top division, but against a roster of upper Maegashira “slumming it” down the banzuke, they may have demotion worthy scores come day 15.

Daiamami vs Okinoumi – To reinforce the point, there is this match. Okinoumi, if he is healthy, can defeat Daiamami with not much fuss. He has a 3-0 career record against Daiamami, and I think day 3 will make that 4-0.

Kotonowaka vs Chiyoshoma – Kotonowaka is still looking for his first win, and in spite of his 4-0 career history over Chiyoshoma, I think he will struggle today. Chiyoshoma is looking unusually genki, and has set aside most of his crummy sumo gags for straight ahead man to man combat. It turns out he actually is a pretty solid rikishi.

Kotoeko vs Terutsuyoshi – A battle of compact power rikishi now, and this one has a lot of potential. They have a 19 match career record that favors Terutsuyoshi 12-7. This rivalry goes back to 2015 when both were in Makushita. Looking for sparks from these two today.

Shimanoumi vs Kagayaki – Well, the good news is that one of these hard-luck rikishi will come out of today’s match with their first win. The bad news is that both of them are not looking genki at all right now. Maybe it’s ring rust, or maybe some undisclosed injury. Kagayaki holds a 4-1 career record lead.

Tamawashi vs Endo – Another long-standing rivalry for day 3, with 25 career matches between these two. Tamawashi holds a narrow 14-11 advantage, and both came into Natsu looking healthy, strong and sharp. This match has potential, sumo fans.

Tochinoshin vs Takarafuji – the last in the long time rivals series, this one will favor Takarafuji today, I think. The bulk of Tochinoshin’s 13-9 career lead comes from the days when he had a healthier right knee. These two first fought in May of 2012, 9 years ago!

Tsurugisho vs Ichinojo – The first time that Tsurugisho gets to fight the Boulder. What gives this match additional interest is that bulky Tsurugisho is not at a huge mass disadvantage to Ichinojo, but I am not sure Tsurugisho has a good formula for fighting someone as massive as Ichinojo. Hint, just get him backing up and he tends to go soft.

Hoshoryu vs Onosho – Oh, its another high-interest match! We get a rebounding Onosho up against young Hoshoryu, who seems to be working hard to up his skill level. In contrast, Onosho just seems to try and get his hands inside and push with overwhelming strength. If Hoshoryu can keep from being bracketed by Onosho, this will be a winnable match for him. Stay mobile!

Hidenoumi vs Myogiryu – Hidenoumi has never taken a match from Myogiryu, and I have no expectation that day 3 will change that in any way. Myogiryu comes in with a winless 0-2 record, but I think today he will pick up his shonichi.

Mitakeumi vs Chiyonokuni – Chiyonokuni may be ranked a bit too high (M3w) given his current health, and I think he is going to struggle against the far more massive Mitakeumi today. Mitakeumi is looking really genki right now, and may end up in the leader pack going into the middle weekend. I like how he is moving, and I like the fact that he seems to be getting his attacks in early and hard.

Kiribayama vs Takanosho – One of the great things about this May’s San’yaku battle-fleet is the entire crowd is in good fighting shape this basho. I think Takanosho, who holds a 6-1 career record over Kiribayama, has an excellent shot of bouncing back from his day 2 loss to Tobizaru today.

Takayasu vs Meisei – I give up trying to handicap Takayasu’s sumo right now. He is back to his wild / chaos mode, and when he’s doing that you may as well just flip a coin. To my eye he just launches out of the tachiai with a roaring grunt, and starts flailing away with everything he has. So far its gotten him to 2-0, and it may yet carry him to 3-0 today. But I know he can fight with skill and cunning, I just wish he would bring it out most of the time instead.

Hokutofuji vs Takakeisho – I must know, will Hokutofuji take another step on the road to “The most powerful make-koshi in all of sumo” today? Takakeisho looking solid in his day 2 match against Mitakeumi, until the original tadpole overpowered him and sent the Ozeki crashing over the edge of the dohyo. The two have a 19 match history, with Takakeisho having a slim 11-8 majority over Hokutofuji. Could be a good fight.

Asanoyama vs Wakatakakage – Asanoyama needs to take care today. He seems to not be quite focused yet, racking up a day 2 loss to Meisei, and a narrow win against Daieisho. Wakatakakage has a nearly unbreakable focus, demonstrated day 2 against Shodai, and Asanoyama will do well to make sure that Wakatakakage does not start dictating the form of this match.

Tobizaru vs Terunofuji – Tobizaru maneuverability is a genuine risk for Terunofuji. Not just for racking up his first loss, but lateral motion and pivots are tough on what gristle and chewing gum remain holding up his knees. Tobizaru is going to want to stay out of the Ozeki’s grasp, and stay mobile.

Shodai vs Daieisho – Kadoban Ozeki Shodai has a tough match today. He has a 4-8 career deficit against Daieisho, and it’s pretty clear given his 1-1 record that he is not quite up to full honbasho energy yet. As always, if he gets in trouble there is a fair chance of some “Cartoon Sumo” he may deploy to rescue the match.

Natsu Day 2 Highlights

Tough day for the Ozeki today, as three of the four take a black star home for their efforts. Could this be another basho where the parity between the ranks means that nearly anyone might take home the cup? I have had sumo fans ask me about the “next” Yokozuna, and I tend to remark that we may go some time without one. We have been in a largely post-yokozuna era for about a year now, and none of the current rikishi have been able to put together 2 wins – except Terunofuji.

Not that we have bad rikishi competing at the top of sumo today, they just don’t have the consistency to put up the wins in a predictable manner. With only 2 days in the books for Natsu, it will be a long 2 weeks to the cup, and it promises to be full of sumo action.

Highlight Matches

Ishiura defeats Chiyomaru – Brilliant tachiai from Ishiura, he’s into his second step before Chiyomaru makes contact, with Ishiura taking that second step to his left and getting beside Chiyomaru. Before Chiyomaru can respond, Ishiura has left hand outside / right hand inside and is on the attack. Chiyomaru tries to rotate, but Ishiura just ends up behind him and drives him out. Both end the day with 1-1.

Chiyotairyu defeats Akua – Akua was impressed enough with Ishiura’s execution of that mini-henka that he tries one himself. It goes precisely nowhere as sumo’s thunder demon tracks that move expertly, and 2 steps later puts Akua’s face into the clay. Chiyotairyu improves to 2-0.

Daiamami defeats Kaisei – Third time must be a charm, as Daiamami tries the exact same move, albeit at about 30% of Ishiura’s velocity. But at Kaisei’s size, it worked anyhow, and the giant Brazilian found himself pushed out from behind.

Akiseyama defeats Kotoeko – Kotoeko had a solid opening combo, and managed to get Akiseyama to the tawara, but could not find the power to finish him. Akiseyama rallied and pushed Kotoeko back to the center of the dohyo before consolidating his grip and grinding forward for a win.

Okinoumi defeats Kotonowaka – Okinoumi went left hand inside at the tachiai, giving Kotonowaka zero chance to mount any real offense. With a deep right hand outside, Okinoumi pivoted into a throw and rolled Kotonowaka. Okinoumi starts Natsu 2-0.

Chiyoshoma defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi put everything into the tachiai, hoping to get the inside route to attack Chiyoshoma. For a brief moment his hands were inside and next to Chiyoshoma’s chest, but Chiyoshoma’s thrusting attack disrupted whatever Terutsuyoshi had in mind. With a right hand slap to the face, Terutsuyoshi lost balance and found himself on the receiving end of a shove into the west side cushions.

Tamawashi defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi got the first step at the tachiai, but Tamawashi had his hands center-mass, and caught Shimanoumi in the chest. At that point there was little that Shimanoumi could do but give ground. By the time Shimanoumi tried to rally, he found himself exiting the dohyo with a shove to his face. Tamawashi improves to 2-0.

Endo defeats Kagayaki – Endo is seriously under-ranked this basho, and he’s cleaning up against everyone down here who is struggling. This could be useful in week 2 to bring him up the banzuke to spoil someone’s record as they shape the yusho race. I like that Kagayaki was able to rally and move Endo back, but Kagayaki was in too much of a rush to finish him, and missed the side step that let Endo send him out. Oh, the gumbai went to Kagayaki, but was reversed. Maybe that crane camera is starting to grow on me.

Tochinoshin defeats Tsurugisho – Tsurugisho boldly goes for the battle-hug at the tachiai, and finds that Tochinoshin still has plenty of stamina, even if that bum right knee is questionable on any given day. He can’t quite manage a sky-crane against someone of Tsurugisho’s size, but he manages to lift-and-shift him over the bales for his first win of the basho.

Ichinojo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji went for a deep right hand grip, and managed to latch himself firmly to the boulder. Not sure what the plan was after that, but this seems to have given Ichinojo more or less what he was looking for. True to form, Takarafuji defended well, but it seems we have a somewhat genki boulder this tournament, with Ichinojo consolidating his grip and then joining Takarafuji in the endurance contest. With this silent basho in full effect, you can hear Takarafuji’s labored breathing as he loses stamina. After a good, long time, Ichinojo decides Takarafuji’s tired enough, and he hurls him down with a shitatedashinage. Ichinojo starts 2-0.

Hidenoumi defeats Hoshoryu – Hidenoumi shows he’s got a game plan to best Hoshoryu, as he wins for the second consecutive match. Hoshoryu put all of his hopes on a nodowa neck attack, but Hidenoumi broke Hoshoryu’s grip and found the inside route wide open. Five steps later, Hidenoumi had Hoshoryu across the bales for his first win of Natsu.

Onosho defeats Myogiryu – Myogiryu came in fast at the tachiai, but Onosho was able to keep lower. He caught Myogiryu, and dialed up the pressure, standing him upright, then stepping to the side while pulling Myogiryu down. Onosho starts Natsu 2-0.

Daieisho defeats Kiribayama – Kiribayama worked hard to keep this match from going into a thrusting mode, which he assumed would favor Daieisho, I suspect. His gambit worked, and the two went chest to chest, with no real grip from either man. Clearly not sure what he can do with his position at this point, Kiribayama first tries a leg trip, then a throw. But Daieisho collapses his attack and Kiribayama ends up flat on his back next to the salt box. Daieisho finds his first win of May.

Takayasu defeats Chiyonokuni – With the Kokugikan as quiet as a morgue, you can really hear Takayasu roar into the tachiai. He makes a big show of it, but finds Chiyonokuni’s opening thrusting combo standing him up and moving him back. The two of them then proceed to throw the kitchen sink at each other. Both of them are frantically blasting away, with haphazard balance and no regard to any manner of defense at all. With the match reduced to a simple contest of brute strength, it was Takayasu’s match to win, which he eventually managed to do. He starts Natsu 2-0.

Tobizaru defeats Takanosho – The reason why we see Tobizaru at this rank, and able to best a rikishi like Takanosho is evident today. He focuses on attacking center-mass to the exclusion of almost everything else. It does not always work, but against an opponent with no yotsu-zumo to speak of (such as today), it will likely pay off if he can get inside. Takanosho is able to defend for a short time, but Tobizaru opens him up and then put him over the bales. Both end the day at 1-1.

Meisei defeats Asanoyama – Asanoyama thought he had that match won on the second step, I assume. He rushed forward to finish Meisei before he consolidated his position. It might have worked, but Meisei did a brilliant job of disrupting the Ozeki’s balance. Asanoyama almost rescued himself at the edge, but Meisei followed up with a masterful shove to send Asanoyama to his first loss. Great performance from Meisei.

Terunofuji defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji is far too predictable to be a reasonable threat at this rank. I am sure Terunofuji knew that right hand was going to try for a nodowa, and indeed Hokutofuji left his chest wide open, allowing Terunofuji to take control of the match. It is great to see Hokutofuji use his “floppy carp” defense against to kaiju, and it works for a time. But to my eye, it just fires up Terunofuji. Hokutofuji’s escape move at the tawara went the wrong way, and Terunofuji found himself behind his opponent, and sent him off the dohyo with a mighty shove.

Wakatakakage defeats Shodai – That was an impressive effort from Wakatakakage. He keeps his focus exclusively on Shodai’s chest, and just keeps putting the pressure where it counts. Shodai attempts multiple outside attacks to change the pace and form of the match, but Wakatakakage was locked in. There was a mono-ii, but I am guessing they just want to check the footage from that boom-cam, as you can really see what is going on with that thing. It’s like you are looking over the rikishi’s shoulder at times.

Mitakeumi defeats Takakeisho – An epic tadpole battle royale! They both stayed focused and in form, but it was Mitakeumi whose sumo reigned supreme today. He almost blew it with a pulling attempt against the Ozeki, but was able to reset and drive forward for his eventual win. Mitakeumi starts 2-0.