Kyushu 2022 Day Four
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Kainahineri. Kotonowaka was getting pushed back by Wakatakakage, but he managed his first win by busting out a two-handed arm twist down.
Match of the Day
Komusubi #2 East Tobizaru versus Komusubi #1 East Kiribayama
Kiribayama's specialty has become extending a match with a very awkward stalemate position. Usually, this just grinds an opponent down, but Tobizaru isn't the usual rikishi. Tobizaru had his head in Kiribayama's chest, with a bit of a sideways angle. Somehow the Flying Monkey kept moving the match around, but he couldn't outmatch Kiribayama in this situation.
There will be no zensho yusho at the Kyushu basho. On Day Four, the five rikishi who came in undefeated (Hoshoryu, Tobizaru, Abi, Kotoshoho, and Hiradoumi) all lost. It also was not a good day to be a top-ranked man. The top four men on the Banzuke still competing (Takakeisho, Shodai, Wakatakakage, and Hoshoryu) all lost. The parity that was somewhat evident in the first three days was the dominant theme of Day Four. An astonishing fourteen rikishi are tied for the lead at 3-1.
There is no clear favorite in the yusho race at this point. The two Ozeki are sitting at 2-2, and the Sanyaku seems determined to show they're all even. On Day Five, the final five matches are Wakatakakage vs Ura, Tobizaru vs Mitakeumi, Midorifuji vs Hoshoryu, Meisei vs Shodai, and Takakeisho vs Ichinojo. Other than Ura, winless at Kyushu and against Wakatakakage in his career, anyone could win and it wouldn't be a shocker. In the first week of the basho, the final five matches typically have clear favorites.
The state of the Ozeki is a troubling matter. Takakeisho decided to pull against Meisei from the beginning. That's an unwise strategy against most rikishi, and Meisei kept himself contained to get the easy victory. In the final match of the day, Ichinojo bossed Shodai. Shodai put up a good effort, but Ichinojo had the kind of grip he is just not going to lose with. Neither Ozeki is fighting well or even in a way that has brought them previous success. Mitakeumi could join the Ozeki corps again with 10 wins and so far hasn't derailed that opportunity.
An Ozeki spot seems open for someone who could start dominating in lower Sanyaku. That parity means no one is dominating in lower Sanyaku. Wakatakakage is the only one who has any outside shot at Ozeki, but he needs 13 or 14 wins. He already has two losses, so that faint chance is almost gone. Hoshoryu or Kiribayama, the younger Sanyaku wrestlers, could level up and make the step up. Yet for all their promise, they have never put together the back-to-back 11 or 12 win bashos that are a prelude to an Ozeki promotion.
11 or 12 wins may be the winning tally for a yusho at Kyushu. That means each win is crucial, but also that a loss isn't devastating. The crop of 2-2 rikishi, including Takakeisho, Shodai, and Wakatakakage, are just one win back. They settle themselves and get a winning streak together, then they will be in pole position for the Emperor's Cup. Of course, anyone else goes on a winning streak and they'll separate themselves. And that could come from anywhere on the Banzuke.