The early days of the 2018 Hatsu Basho keep on giving, and I’m very excited to see where things go from here. The undercard has proved to be exceptionally exciting this basho after the infusion of new and upcoming talent, and their matches are some of the ones I look forward to the most. Here are just a few Day 5 undercard matches that should be interesting.
Kyokutaisei Vs. Asanoyama
For those not familiar with the Juryo scene, Kyokutaisei Takuya may seem like any other rikishi. But if you’ve ever seen the 2009 documentary A Normal Life: Chronicle of a Sumo Wrestler, you may recognize him as the teen whose entrance into the world of sumo was documented in the film. Coming into Day 5 with a 3-1 record, Kyokutaisei has had a great start and may be on the path to a top division promotion in March. Tomorrow he meets the undefeated Asanoyama, who continued his winning streak today with a nice reversal to force Yutakayama over the tawara. Mr. Happy appears to be over the foot injury that plagued him in November, and his sumo has been top notch since. Asanoyama and Kyokutaisei have fought twice, with Asanoyama the victor both times.
Ishiura vs. Ryuden
While he may not have won, no one can say Ishiura didn’t try today his hardest today. The pint-sized Rikishi gave it his all, but Nishikigi proved too much for him to handle. Even a last minute throw attempt didn’t unsettle the bigger man, and Ishiura ended up sitting on the edge of the dohyo looking out at the amused crowd. Sadly this brought an end to Ishiura’s win streak so he will need to get back on the horse tomorrow when he meets Ryuden. Ryuden continues to work hard in his matches, but has only one win to show for it. While this Basho may not be going the way he had hoped, I’m sure Ryuden’s hard work will start to pay off soon.
Daiamami vs. Yutakayama
It’ll be the battle of the big hosses when these two take the dohyo. Weighing in at 183 kg apiece, Daiamami and Yutakayama are two of the largest men in the division. Both rely on their size and strength to win, so their bout tomorrow should be pretty straightforward. Daiamami managed to bring his record back to 500 yesterday after beating Myogiryu, while the 1-3 Yutakayama continues to struggle. The last time these two met was at the 2017 Nagoya Basho when Daiamami defeated Yutakayama in a playoff match for the Juryo Yusho.
Abi vs. Kagayaki
Kagayaki had a return to form in his Day 4 match with Sokokurai and drove the elder rikishi out of the dohyo in seconds. Tomorrow Kagayaki will square off against Abi, who picked up his second win after a flurry of a bout with Ryuden. Abi seems to be suffering from the same issues that Kagayaki faced when he entered the top division, and can’t seem to find the middle ground between powerful thrusts and steady balance. If Abi can stay upright tomorrow, then we may be in store for quite a slugfest! Tomorrow is their second meeting, with Kagayaki leading 1-0. Expect some frantic tsuppari from these lanky rikishi.
Kotoyuki vs. Sokokurai
After a quick tune-up in Juryo last year, Kotoyuki has made the most of his top division return. With a win tomorrow The Penguin will be halfway to his kachi-koshi, but he’ll first have to get through another man fresh off a stint in Juryo, Sokokurai. The Chinese rikishi put up little offense in his match with Kagayaki today and will have to come up with a better strategy to handle Kotoyuki. Out of the eight previous matches, Sokokurai has only beaten The Penguin once.
Tomorrow marks the end of Act One of the 2018 Hatsu Basho, and what a first act it has been! I can’t wait to see what Act Two will bring!