Aki 2022 Day Four
PUBLIC LEAGUE LEADERBOARD
Tsutaezori. Ura put away Takarafuji with an "underarm forward body drop." This spectacular maneuver is so rare it has not been seen in Makuuchi since Yokozuna Asashoryu busted it out at Aki 2002.
MATCH OF THE DAY
Ozeki #1 East Takakeisho versus Maegashira #2 East Kotonowaka
A classic clash of styles, Takakeisho clearly had the goal of hitting Kotonowaka up and back while also keeping his hands away from any grip. To Kotonowaka's credit, he took a lot of the Ozeki's best blows and kept at it. He even briefly got a hold of Takakeisho's belt for a second. But the full power of Takakeisho blew that up and just kept pushing the Maegashira back for an oshidashi win.
The four co-leaders, and four undefeated rikishi, after Day Four are Tamawashi, Wakamotoharu, Hokutofuji, and Oho. The odds of any of them continuing on this path for long may be low. Tamawashi gets Terunofuji on Day Five. Although he has three recent victories over the Yokozuna, he will probably follow up a Yokozuna match with some more Sanyaku wrestlers. Wakamotoharu and Hokutofuji will probably see each other sooner rather than later. Oho is maybe already having his best Makuuchi basho.
After four days, the one-loss back group is quite big at ten rikishi, but also has some intriguing names. To start with, Terunofuji and Takakeisho are both at 3-1. They haven't been bullet-proof, but they have their ranks for a reason. As the two highest-ranked men, they also are penciled in to face each other on Day Fifteen. Based on performance, the best hope for a spoiler to that plan is Hoshoryu. The shin-Sekiwake is 3-1 and may just be figuring out how to use his particular blend of athleticism and unusual skills.
Notably, Shodai and Mitakeumi are not doing very well. Shodai has been here before and survived with his rank, but Mitakeumi is kadoban for a second straight basho because of a COVID absence and seems to be in trouble of losing Ozeki status. Below them in Sanykau, Wakatakakage, Ichinojo, and Kiribayama have been uneven. Anyone facing any of these five rikishi should be prepared for them to try and scrap to hold onto their Sanyaku place.
At the bottom of the Banzuke, the desire to try anything to win has already shown up. Chiyoshoma showed new man Hiradoumi exactly what a Makuuchi level henka is. Hiradoumi stood up at the tachiai, found Chiyoshoma flying to his left, and was down before he knew what was happening and got his first loss as a Maegashira. Nishikifuji took Takanosho all around the dohyo to make Takanosho fall back from the top of the leaderboard. Those sorts of matches will only increase the more rikishi feel like they need to win.
After four days, we usually do not see these changes to a rikishi's style of sumo. But clearly the parity in Makuuchi is rearing its head again. The flip side of anyone being able to drop a match to anyone else is that everyone can come into the match thinking they can win. That's why a leaderboard will change as much as the identity of the rikishi sitting undefeated.