Natsu 2022 Day Four
Public League Leaderboard
Tokkurinage. Chiyotairyu beat Midorifuji with the two-handed head twist down, which really meant he grabbed his face with both hands and shoved sideways. Abi won with it last November, but before that it hadn't been seen for decades in Makuuchi.
Match of the Day
Ozeki #1 East Mitakeumi versus Maegashira #2 East Kiribayama
Kiribayama absolutely gave Mitakeumi a handful, but he didn't ever really get a real opening to win. Mitakeumi meanwhile just kept absorbing all of Kiribayama's twists and turns to move him around. It looked Kiribayama would back up when Mitakeumi got going. Then Kiribayama did one of his slippery moves, at which point Mitakeumi found an opening for a devastating kotenage.
Terunofuji settled the basho down a little bit in the musubi no ichiban by beating the heretofore undefeated Kotonowaka. It wasn't even that much of a challenge from the up-and-comer, all things considered. Kotonowaka did his usual stand up and spread his feet for a solid base, but Terunofuji is too big and too strong to simply redirect. Kotonowaka gets his first loss, while Terunofuji reestablished his place as sumo's top man.
It is also worth noting that all three Ozeki won on Day Four, something that had not happened at Natsu so far. In fact, Shodai got his first win by reversing Takayasu, although he didn't look particularly strong still. Takakeisho had his tsuppari rhythm down against Hoshoryu, even if he still isn't pushing opponents backwards. Mitakeumi took a strong challenge from Kiribayama, but worked to win. None of those matches are dominant performances. In sumo, that doesn't matter on the day, because a win is a win.
But all Ozeki have weaknesses in those wins that can be exploited in the future, and all future opponents should be watching. This basho could still get even odder. Take Kotonowaka, whose lone blemish is against the Yokozuna, and now gets a run against Maegashira for the first time. He could keep racking up wins and dominate the yusho arasoi. Especially if the Ozeki keep stumbling like they did the first three days. Day Four settled, but it may only be for a moment.
Only 12 rikishi currently stand above .500 through four days. That is a sign that everyone is beating up on each other across Makuuchi. While a zensho yusho is always intriguing, a basho where anyone could beat anyone else is more fun in a way. On Day Four, Chiyotairyu grabbed someone's head, Tochinoshin lifted someone out, and Nishikigi unleashed a wild kotenage. Something like that could happen every day, even though those events are probably going to be one time occurrences.
Terunofuji may have taken control of the Natsu basho on Day Four. But he still isn't topping the leaderboard. He also still has knee issues. The Yokozuna isn't necessarily an overwhelming favorite. On the other hand, the Ozeki haven't covered themselves in glory, and the rest of Sanyaku has been decidedly uneven. And there are still eleven more days of sumo.