So, those of you who followed the live blog earlier may have noted that we started our coverage rather early on (Bruce earliest of all), and were describing bouts that – if all you have access to is NHK World – you did not see.
So I want to bring you a bit of the lower division action – at least some of the bouts that interested me personally.
We have old bow-wielder Satonofuji facing Fukuminato. Satonofuji is already 41 years old. This bout required a lot of patience on his part:
Truth be told, Satonofuji looks very tired. I have a suspicion that he is gambarizing through this basho only to be able to perform the yumi-tori ceremony at Harumafuji’s retirement event, at which point he will retire. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part. But we know that he is no longer even the backup performer – there is that new guy from Hakkaku beya who serves as Kasugaryu’s backup.
Only one bout interested me today at Sandanme – the one between Torakio, the Naruto Beya foreigner, and Takiguchi. The real action in Sandanme will start tomorrow as we will be joined by Ura and Wakaichiro. But here is the Bulgarian Star.
Unfortunately, that’s a black star. Torakio, though he is obviously the strongest man in Naruto, continues to be meh on the dohyo.
Let’s look at the most recent promotees to the Makushita division:
Naya was faced with a very small Kototsubasa:
Got to hand it to the little guy. He gave the Dai-Yokozuna’s grandson a run for his money.
Naya’s other half, with a similar pedigree and friendly rivalry, is Hoshoryu, who was faced with Terao from Shikoroyama beya. Terao has Yokozuna proportions (191cm and 152kg), and Hoshoryu suddenly found himself in the “small rikishi” slot, despite his respectable 185 centimeters.
Well, Hoshoryu is not repeating his mistake of the previous basho. No ring-rust this time.
Chiyootori is aiming to return to sekitori status after a long recovery from injury. Currently at Makushita #25, he is faced with Nankairiki:
Well, what do you think? Is he on his way back? Of course, this basho is not enough. I think two basho are the minimum, and we all know that the top of Makushita is murder.
Now, I want you to watch the Tomisakae-Akinoyama match. I don’t have an individual video for this one, but the following Makushita digest video is time marked for his bout, and of course you can use it to watch the entire Makushita action.
Akinoyama weighs 209kg, and in the previous two matches between them, he has won. Tomisakae is known for his ability to do backflips. He is from Isegahama beya:
That’s some great survival sumo from the backflippin’ man with the sweet smile.
Another one who strives to go back to sekitori status is Sokokurai, a man who has a principle of not doing anything to his tsukebito which he wouldn’t like being done to himself. Which is why he deserves to be a sekitori again.
Of course, sumo is a meritocracy, and if you’re good, it doesn’t really matter how you treat your tsukebito. Which is a shame, really. But if he keeps up this careful, experience-laden sumo, he does have a standing chance, despite his age.
And speaking of making a comeback despite one’s age, at the very top of Makushita is a big man with a big vow made to a dying friend. Toyonoshima faced Kizenryu, the Makushita-Juryo yo-yo:
Our little pixie is back inside his reddish shimekomi. This time, he is sporting a brand-new Oicho-mage, which makes him suddenly look like a real sekitori. Enho is facing the Mongolian Azumaryu here…
… but the Mongolian proves to be a bit of a handful for him. It’s a good effort, but staying at Juryo is going to be very difficult for the lightest sekitori in the sumo world.
Moving on to our next pixie, here we hove one of the three remaining Isegahama sekitori. The giant-at-heart Terutsuyoshi. He faces Tsurugisho in this bout. In the previous tournament Tsurugisho employed a henka – against a guy who barely reaches to his shoulders.
A mic-dropping match for sure.
The next match was Wakatakakage vs. Chiyonoo. Although Wakatakakage can’t be called “short” with 181cm, he is still way too lean for a sekitori. Chiyonoo is not as hefty as some of his stablemates, but still holds about 30kg advantage over the Arashio man.
Wakatakakage’s head goes straight for Chiyonoo’s abdomen, and doesn’t leave it until its owner leaves the dohyo.
Next up, Takekaze, at 39 years of age, facing Hidenoumi, whose little brother Tobizaru took a flying lesson a little earlier. It’s hard for me to even recognize Hidenoumi without his blinding magenta shimekomi. For some reason he went for subdued aubergine-black. Or maybe the shimekomi’s pigment just burned itself out.
Yes, the man with the vibrant mawashi here is Takekaze. Round and round and round he goes. Where Hidenoumi will land, nobody knows.
Next came a bout between rather younger rikishi. I’m not a Takagenji fan, but he is rather good, and this bout is worth the watch:
Kotoeko is back from Makuuchi and is not happy about that. Takagenji is a guy who hates losing. He sticks to the tawara on this side. Kotoeko pushes him to the other side. He sticks to the tawara on that side. Tries a throw. Kotoeko doesn’t allow it. Eventually the Takanohana is left with no options.
And here, at the top of Juryo, is one veteran who is so old he needs a master tokoyama just to be able to simulate an oicho-mage with what remains of his hair. Someone who does not have a joint in his body that’s fit for use. And yet he uses them all. It’s none other than Uncle Sumo, who had to take in a rather surprising Makuuchi dropout – Arawashi – for his first opponent.
How did Arawashi end in Juryo anyway? Can’t wrap my head around that. Yes, I know the math is correct. But still, Arawashi in Juryo?
Anyway, seems like Aminishiki is thinking much the same:
I’m not really sure what’s going on there. It’s a henka… but Arawashi gets turned around together with Aminishiki. Quantum entanglement? Well, Arawashi definitely spins down, while Uncle spins up – at least until tomorrow.
And that wraps up this bulletin from the lower divisions. Tomorrow, of course, I’ll try to get my hands on Ura footage, if I have to beg, borrow, or steal it.