Aki 2021 Day Four
Shitatedashinage. Kotonowaka and Meisei Were doing a bizarre grappling dance for awhile where neither man had a good grip and they never faced head on. Then at the edge, Meisei pulled off a textbook pulling underarm throw.
Match of the Day
Maegashira 2 West Kiribayama versus Komusubi West Ichinojo
Kiribayama got a grip on Ichinojo early, which is his usual gameplan but also sometimes a kiss of death against the biggest man in sumo. Somehow, Kiribayama never gave in, although he looked like he was about to lose a few times. Yet he just kept working at it, and was able to move the giant to the edge for his fourth straight win.
Terunofuji got his fourth straight win. It was eventful, compared to many other Terunofuji matches. Hokutofuji didn't land his very inside nodowa from the tachiai, but he did disrupt Terunofuji's plan. That meant Terunofuji had to work at reshaping his grip. Doing that caused him to send Hokutofuji sideways and down.
Terunofuji's spotless record stands out more now because he is just one of four rikishi who has four wins after four days. That's a thinning out at the top in a hurry, and it accelerates on Day Five. Terunofuji will face undefeated Kiribayama, who has been the most impressive rikishi so far. The winner of that will be the clear favorite for the basho, although if it is Kiribayama that will completely upend the basho. Aki could be a truly chaotic basho then.
The chaos was present elsewhere on Day Four. Takakeisho, who had looked hopeless so far, pulled out a win over Hoshoryu. The Ozeki didn't unleash his trademark power, nor did he pull off a signature pull down from disrupting Hoshoryu's rhythm. Instead, Takakeisho dislodged a right-hand grip, which sent Hoshoryu sideways. Meanwhile, Shodai won convincingly, while Mitakeumi also looked strong. At 3 wins, they could be the biggest threats to take the basho.
The other sign of chaos, which was always looming, was that Tsurugisho was kyujo because of a fever. He had a negative COVID test by the time the matches start, but it was a reminder the pandemic could still upend this tournament. The fusensho went to Chiyonokuni, who leapt to 4-0. He and Myogiryu are the two lower Maegashira who are undefeated, making them worth watching. Otherwise, Maegashira seem to just keep beating each other up.
This meat grinder style basho has yet to touch the lone Yokozuna competing, but he has serious threats. Kiribayama is his first big hurdle on Day Four, and then he will see many more upper Maegashira. They've been fighting hard as a group. He also will face Mitakeumi and Shodai towards the end, while a desperate Takakeisho could be a wild card opponent. Terunofuji is in pole position, but he has plenty of work ahead of him.