Nagoya 2022 Day Four
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Tottari. Both Tobizaru and Terunofuji won by tottari, the arm bar throw, but in two very different matches. Tobizaru very quickly shifted on Tochinoshin to grab his arm and pull him sideways. Terunofuji essentially went for such a powerful throw on Kotonowaka that he needed to bar the arm before sending the young man down.
Match of the Day
Komusubi East Hoshoryu versus Ozeki 2 West Shodai
This was a weird, but exciting, one. Hoshoryu latched on at the tachiai with a strong right-hand outside grip. Then once he had the Ozeki, he seemed absolutely desperate for a throw. Shodai was able to stop that and remove himself from the grip as Hoshoryu kept going backwards. They reengaged and Hoshoryu grabbed Shodai's left arm. Shodai also got out of that. He eventually started moving backwards with momentum, but that just allowed Shodai to pull Hoshoryu down.
The Day Five musubi no ichiban will be a clash of the titans. Terunofuji and Ichinojo are two of the biggest rikishi in sumo, a sport where everyone is big. They also are at their best when they can impose their power on an opponent. Most significantly, their Day Five clash will have a huge impact on the yusho race. That's just the kind of basho it's been in Nagoya so far.
Ichinojo is looking extremely strong through four matches, and it does seem his COVID-related kyujo in May has helped him recover. He was not diagnosed with the virus, but sat out because a stablemate tested positive. So far, that has seen him as athletic as he's been in awhile. Considering the often immobile version of Ichinojo was still able to get 8 wins as an upper Maegashira, that's a worrying sign for anyone else. Ichinojo could be in the yusho race until the end.
Even if that is not completely stunning, Ichinojo's early clash with Terunofuji feeling so impactful is somewhat shocking. Terunofuji has one blemish, to Abi on Day One, but that is one blemish more than a Yokozuna should have. He looks positively sterling compared to the struggling Ozeki. The Sekiwake aren't doing so hot, either, and Hoshoryu seems to still be looking for a magic formula against top rikishi. Only the aforementioned Abi, at Komusubi East, joins Terunofuji as a one-loss Sanyaku man. And his wild but overpowering win over Wakatakakage on Day Four is not a sign he's ready to roll over everyone.
The Sanyaku's shaky performances and upper Maegashira's ultra competitiveness might not be the story of Nagoya so far. Most surprising of all is that the two rikishi joining Ichinojo in the slim undefeated corps are Nishikigi and Ichiyamamoto. These two were not exactly coming in with a ton of momentum to Nagoya. Nishikigi's best record in his Makuuchi career is 10 wins, and he last did that in 2018. Ichiyamamoto, meanwhile, has just scraped out 8-7 records in his last two basho.
Ichiyamamoto's last two bashos are a good warning that the first five days don't determine a basho. In March, Ichiyamamoto needed a five match winning streak to secure his bare kachi-koshi. In May, he had a five match losing streak to close the basho after getting his 8th win on Day 10. Although a sumo tournament feels short at just fifteen days, plenty of things can happen over the fifteen days. All it will take to upend the yusho race or send a rikishi into a losing record is a streak of just a few days. Four days has told us a lot, but it can't determine the whole basho.