Aki 2021 Day Two
Shitatenage. It's really amazing Wakatakakage could do anything after Ichinojo leaned on him for an eternity in sumo terms. Yet he pulled out the underarm throw with enough force to send the bigger man forcefully to the clay.
Match of the Day
Ozeki East Shodai versus Komusubi East Takayasu
Neither Shodai nor Takayasu had the Day One they wanted, and they both gave a full effort on Day Two. That doesn't mean they had a pretty match. Takayasu had the small advantage at the tachiai, but Shodai managed to disrupt his momentum. The match then turned into a series of hold adjustments. After some leaning, Shodai used pure power to just knock Takayasu back.
The very top of the Banzuke is holding, but the next tier is topsy turvy. And that's able to be said on Day Two.
Terunofuji beat Hoshoryu, although the youngster gave an impressive fight. Shodai got a win, but it was awkward and at the expense of a less than stellar looking Takayasu. Sanyaku below there was troublesome. Mitakeumi seemed to not know where to step against Hokutofuji. Meisei had very little against Takanosho. Ichinojo got sent to the clay by Wakatakakage. But most troubling of all was Takakeisho's loss to Kiribayama.
Kiribayama is a talented rikishi who is looking to push to the next level, but a fully fit Takakeisho should be able to overwhelm him. Instead. Takakeisho got stood up when he tried to unleash his tsuppari. Then he gingerly went backwards, less like he was giving up and more like that was all his knees could do. Takakeisho is kadoban, and he needs eight wins to remain at Ozeki. This looks nearly impossible with the way he fought over his first two matches.
If Takakeisho pulls out due to injury, there are a handful of knock-on effects. On paper, it makes Terunofuji's tournament much easier. The Ozeki were likely the Yokozuna's last two matches. If Takakeisho pulls out, Terunofuji has a clash with Shodai penciled in for Day Fifteen unless someone pulls an unbelievable record. The rest of Sanyaku will also face one less Ozeki in this tournament. And if he doesn't pull out, then Takakeisho looks like an easy target.
The story of the Aki Basho might end up being the upper Maegashira. Coming in, the first four Maegashira lines were notably strong. The lower joi was full of younger rikishi who either wanted to go back to Sanyaku to stay or make a Sanyaku debut. The one outlier is Tamawashi, who is a strong veteran as well as a former Sekiwake and yusho winner. After two days, Hokutofuji, Kiribayama, Wakatakakage, and Tamawashi are 2-0. Hoshoryu, Takanosho, and Kotonowaka have the kind of 1-1 performances that suggest they will make noise.
It is that clutch of rikishi that Terunofuji will face over the next few days. This upside down basho could be truly upside down in terms of schedule. Terunofuji could face his toughest matches in the first week. If he stands unscathed and the upper Maegashira pick off the lower Sanyaku, the basho could get uninteresting in a hurry. Likely, though, just one or two significant upsets will make the basho ultra competitive.