Natsu Day 5 Preview

Welcome to the final day of act 1 of the Natsu basho for 2021. The fans are allowed back in the Kokugikan, and the super boom-cam is no longer giving us fresh views of the action. At Tachiai, we divide the 15 day basho into three 5 day “acts”, each of which have a purpose and a theme. In general act 1 is to shake off the ring rust and get everyone into fighting form. We also get to see who is hot, and who is not. Following the rallies on day 4, a number of winless rikishi now have at least 1 white star. But Hokutofuji and Myogiryu are still winless. On the other side of that range is Terunofuji with 4-0, and frankly is once again the strongest competitor in the tournament. It’s a remarkable testament to his relentless spirit that as his first tournament back at the rank of Ozeki, he leads everyone going into the final day of act 1. I would not be surprised if he was in contention for the cup in a week.

What We Are Watching Day 5

Akua vs Enho – An injured and winless Enho comes to visit the top division. While it is mathematically possible for him to squeeze out a kachi-koshi for May, the fact is he was banged up even before that day 3 kotenage, and now he’s just trying to make it through 15 days. I had honestly hoped that Hakuho could have Enho and Ishiura by his side in July, for what could be some of his final Yokozuna dohyo-iri. He has an even 2-2 record against Akua, but I am guessing he’s going to get tossed about and dismissed early on day 5.

Ishiura vs Chiyotairyu – I was delighted to see Ishiura rally on day 4 and overcome Akiseyama’s height and mass advantage. He gets to try that ratio again today on day 5 as he goes up against thunder-demon Chiyotairyu. I am sure Chiyotairyu will forego the cannon-ball tachiai today, as that would just beg for an Ishiura henka.

Chiyomaru vs Daiamami – Daiamami holds an 8-2 career advantage over Chiyomaru, winning the last 6 in a row. I expect that Chiyomaru will have his hands full today, and that Daiamami will get a grip on “his roundness” and dance him over the bales without too much trouble.

Akiseyama vs Kaisei – Kaisei has struggled to consistently attack so far at Natsu, so day 5 is going to be a coin toss at if we get Kaisei the statue or Kaisei the mega-fauna. He holds a slight 2-1 advantage over Akiseyamam but it will come down to if Kaisei can move well and keep his balance against Akiseyama’s disrupting attacks.

Kotoeko vs Okinoumi – Okinoumi should have a clear path to bounce back from his day 4 loss to Chiyoshoma. He has a 4-0 career record against Kotoeko, and I am expecting a somewhat more conservative attack plan from Okinoumi today.

Tamawashi vs Chiyoshoma – They have only fought twice before, and Tamawashi has taken them both. But the Chiyoshoma of today seems more focused, and more straight ahead sumo than the last time they met – in 2017.

Shimanoumi vs Kotonowaka – I am not sure what to make of this one. Both of them are well below their potential this May, but I would give a slight edge to Kotonowaka right now.

Terutsuyoshi vs Endo – As expected, Endo has been dominating this far down the banzuke (M8w). He has a 2-0 career record against 1-3 Terutsuyoshi, but I would not be surprised today to see Terutsuyoshi upset sumo’s master technician. Barring injury, Terutsuyoshi is better than his 1-3 record would indicate, and I am expect him to start winning matches going into act 2.

Tsurugisho vs Kagayaki – Both of these guys are struggling with 1-3 records, and can’t seem to get connected to their sumo. Kagayaki has a 2-0 career record against Tsurugisho, but with both of them fighting poorly, its a guess on who would have any advantage today.

Hidenoumi vs Takarafuji – First time match between two long serving veterans who have been in separate divisions for most of their careers. My bias would have me backing Takarafuji, but I have to admit that for now, Hidenoumi has been fighting better, and may have an advantage today if he can keep Takarafuji from setting up a stalemate defense.

Tochinoshin vs Onosho – I think the key to an Onosho win today would be for him to time the “big push” for when Tochinoshin’s weight is mostly on his right leg. It’s tough to resist Onosho’s primary attack without having both feet firmly set, so it will come down to timing.

Hoshoryu vs Ichinojo – Ichinojo is fighting well this May, and Hoshoryu is not. Given their size difference, it may be no more complicated than that.

Myogiryu vs Hokutofuji – Well, the last two winless rikishi face off, and one of them will get their first white star today. Both of these two have been fighting well daily, and are just a bit out-classed at this rank. Hokutofuji holds a slim 7-5 career advantage over Myogiryu, and that may be some indicator of who will have the advantage today.

Mitakeumi vs Takanosho – You might think that Mitakeumi, the original tadpole, would be the favorite in this match. But in fact Takanosho does seem to have a knack for taking Mitakeumi’s lunch money. He has a 5-1 career advantage, but both of them come into today with matching 3-1 records. Could be some great action.

Takayasu vs Daieisho – Takayasu comes in with an 8-3 career advantage, but his sumo has been all over the map this May. With a bonus, Daieisho, got yesterday off due to his fusensho win over the damage Chiyonokuni. So I am going to look for him to really take it to Takakeisho.

Wakatakakage vs Terunofuji – Wakatakakage has rightly earned a reputation of a giant-killer, and the ultimate test comes today as he faces the kaiju in the first of the Ozeki matches. Frankly, I would have put this one last, just as it’s possibly the highest interest contest of the day. Wakatakakage has actually beaten Terunofuji once in the past, when they were both ranked in Juryo. Since then its been 3-0 for Terunofuji.

Shodai vs Meisei – I think this one is going to be all Shodai. In spite of Meisei having solid mechanics, right now it seems Shodai (who had a 4-1 career advantage) has enough cartoon sumo moves to confound almost anyone.

Kiribayama vs Takakeisho – I am pretty sure the 1 win Kiribayama won’t offer much apart from pushing practice ballast to the Grand Tadpole on day 5.

Asanoyama vs Tobizaru – First ever match, and I honestly worry that Asanoyama may struggle with this fight as well. Tobizaru is over-ranked for his level of sumo, but he is an agile and aggressive rikishi who is quite capable of exploiting a mistake or wrong step.

Natsu Day 4 Highlights

Today was a big equalizer, as many rikishi who had spotless records hit the clay for the first time, and more than a couple who had no wins found their first white star. Sadly this was not true for Chiyonokuni, who withdrew from the tournament on day 4, having re-injured his knee on day 3 against Mitakeumi. In the process of exiting the dohyo in the final moments of that match, he struck his knee against the edge of the dohyo, and was clearly not just in pain, but having trouble walking once the match was done. He had a 0-3 record prior to day 4, and was clearly not 100%. In fact Josh and Andy both picked for him to be kyujo from day 1 given his condition. We hope he heals up and returns able to compete in July.

As we near the close of act 1, it looks like once again Terunofuji is going to be the man to beat. The only rikishi to maintain his perfect record at the end of day 4, he continues to look strong and powerful each day.

Last but not least, the fans are back in the Kokugikan! Only 5,000 per day, but it makes the matches less odd now that someone is there to react to the results.

Highlight Matches

Kaisei defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu did not have even close to his usual blast radius at the tachiai, and against a hulk like Kaisei, it had little effect. Kaisei wisely took Chiyotairyu to his chest and got to work. Chiyotairyu found himself unable to reach around Kaisei’s massive frame to find any kind of hand hold, and had to resort to flopping and jiggling around to try and break Kaisei’s hold. From that it was a fast trip to yorikiri as Chiyotairyu takes his first loss and Kaisei improves to 2-2.

Ishiura defeats Akiseyama – Excellent defensive sumo from Akiseyama today. He was able to spread his feet, keep his hips low and shut down Ishiura’s attack from underneath. You can see the point where Ishiura swaps to plan “B”, and it includes a round-house slap to Akiseyama’s face. Plan “B”‘s shitatenage improves Ishiura to 2-2.

Daiamami defeats Akua – Akua tries a pull down as his opening move, and it goes poorly, handing Daiamami the initiative, which he takes up with gusto. Realizing he is trapped, Akua tries anything the can to break contact, but Daiamami marches forward and bodily crushes Akua over the edge. The gyoji gives the gumbai to Akua, and a monoii is called. It seems Daiamami stepped out before Akua finished falling, so a rematch is called. The second run features Daiamami getting his hands inside at the tachiai, and throwing Akua to the dohyo. Daiamami improves to 2-2.

Chiyomaru defeats Kotoeko – As is his custom, Chiyomaru was thrashing away like mad at Kotoeko’s neck and face from the first step. Points to Kotoeko for standing up to it for a time, but the withering rain of blows wore him down, and he could find no escape. Chiyomaru improves to 3-1.

Chiyoshoma defeats Okinoumi – Chiyoshoma went for an early inside grip, but found his right hand blocked and took that hand high to reach for Okiniumi’s neck. Finding Okinoumi’s head unprotected, Chiyoshoma went to work as Okinoumi continued to press forward. A step to the side and Newton did the rest. Chiyoshoma improves to 2-2 as Okinoumi picks up his first loss.

Kotonowaka defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi goes down to his first defeat as Kotonowaka blows through Tamawashi’s opening attack combo and takes the veteran to his chest. Tamawashi breaks contact, but is off balance, and Kotonowaka finishes him with a firm shove to send him down the hanamichi. Kotonowaka improves to 2-2.

Kagayaki defeats Terutsuyoshi – Kagayaki finally picks up his first win today, but it was rough. Kagayaki was too high for the entire match, but was able to cleverly exploit an off balance leg pick attempt from Terutsuyoshi that went wrong in a hurry. Both end the day at 1-3.

Shimanoumi defeats Tsurugisho – Shimanoumi’s deflecting tachiai sent Tsurugisho off balance and rolling to the clay at the first step. It was over before it really began, and Shimanoumi improves to 2-2.

Endo defeats Takarafuji – Takarafuji’s defense was looking weak today, as Endo was able to keep Takarafuji from setting his feet. Endo employed a mid-range grapple and shove attack that kept Takarafuji closer to upright, and made it possible for Endo to control the match. Endo improves to 3-1.

Hidenoumi defeats Tochinoshin – The two go chest to chest at the tachiai, and Hidenoumi immediately begins to dial up the power on his left, placing strain against Tochinoshin’s injured right knee. He can’t really withstand much of that, and quickly gives ground. Hidenoumi keeps up the pressure and quickly drives Tochinoshin out, improving to 3-1.

Ichinojo defeats Onosho – Onosho launches in hard and starts his big push. Ichinojo seems prepare for that today, and Onosho quickly discovers just how much force is required to move “The Boulder”. Answer – its quite a lot. Ichinojo deftly takes one step back, putting Onosho off balance and over-extended, and slaps him down. Onosho picks up his first loss, and both end the day at 3-1.

Kiribayama defeats Hoshoryu – Kiribayama picks up his first win of the basho by showing excellent patience and balance as he chipped away at Hoshoryu’s defense. This match as a solid example of quality yotsu-zumo, but when Hoshoryu let Kiribayama change up his grip, you knew something was about to happen. Both end the day at 1-3.

Wakatakakage defeats Takayasu – My compliments to Wakatakakage. He clearly studied Takayasu’s prior match video, and decided to exploit something we have been talking about for some time – Takayasu’s wild, off balance sumo. Wakatakakage opened strong, driving inside and getting his hands in Takayasu’s armpits. Takayasu responded with a weight shift to break the grip, but Wakatakakage was ready and dialed up the pressure, sending Takayasu out. Both end the day at 3-1.

Takanosho defeats Myogiryu – I am really disappointed that today was not Myogiryu’s first win, as he put a lot of great sumo into this match, and controlled the majority of this match. But he let Takanosho tangle up his arms, and pause a moment to rest, allowing Takanosho to rally and drive Myogiryu from the ring. Takanosho improves to 3-1.

Shodai defeats Tobizaru – Tobizaru tried to get low and shift to the side at the tachiai, but Shodai tracked his lateral move, and responded with power. Tobizaru found himself unprepared for defense in that position, and Shodai made quick work of what was left, improving to 3-1.

Takakeisho defeats Meisei – Rather than thrust and back from Takakeisho today, he made contact and left his hands in place, moving Meisei as a plow moves snow. It was a fast 5 steps to the tawara, sending Meisei went over the edge, giving Takakeisho his 3rd win.

Asanoyama defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji took charge of the match at the tachiai, and had the lead Ozeki in trouble for most of the bout. But Asanoyama stayed on his feet, and kept his defensive footwork steady while he worked to find a route to attack. That chance came when Asanoyama’s right hand finally made it past Hokutofuji’s ottsuke and finding a hold on Hokutofuji’s shoulder. Asanoyama picks up a much needed second win, and Hokutofuji drops to a disamal 0-4.

Terunofuji defeats Mitakeumi – Both men blasted into the tachiai, and bounced back to re-engage. It was Terunofuji’s left hand that found its mark on Mitakeumi’s belt, and he was in business. Moments later, Terunofuji’s right hand latched on as well, and it was a quick lift and toss to send Mitakeumi over the bales, as Terunofuji improves to 4-0, and is the only rikishi left without a loss going into the final day of act 1. I know his knees are on borrowed time, but right now Terumofuji is fighting at almost Yokozuna level against the field.

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.