Hatsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 2

Due to the scheduling of Aoifuji on Day 5, I had to wait for today’s bouts to give you the Match Day 2 highlights. And today, I’m going to begin with a wrestler who will not contend for the yusho but certainly did a number on his opponent. Urutora is a slight wrestler from Shikihide-beya who, in his 10+ year career, is usually in Jonokuchi — if he’s actually on the banzuke. This tournament he’s at the top of the division and on this particular match day he’s visiting Jonidan. He didn’t henka but moved swiftly to the right, pulling on Wakafujioka’s arm until he was directly behind. Urutora then tried to press forward for an okuridashi but when Wakafujioka tried to escape to the side, Urutora helped his opponent fall to the clay. With the finishing throw, it became an okurinage.

Hakuho has used this kimarite once. Fukuoka, 2010. In a playoff against Toyonoshima. Enjoy. Thank you, Jason. It’s so long ago the YouTube video is…a square!

So, let’s move to the yusho race. There was one bout of undefeated wrestlers on Tuesday: Wakayahara vs Koga. Koga nearly pays the price early for being a bit too low at the tachiai but he pushes through for an entertaining, competitive grapple. However, Wakayahara worked Koga to the edge and eventually musters the strength to throw him off the dohyo.

Wednesday’s action started off with rookie Masakifuji against Chiyotaiko, a Jonidan regular who seems to prefer a grapple but has been able to win pusher-thruster battles. Masakifuji didn’t have much of a tachiai, or a game plan. Chiyotaiko shoved him backwards to the tawara but the young judoka was pitched way too far forward and fell as soon as Chiyotaiko let up.

Next up we’ve got one of our Makushita veterans, Nakashima, against Kotetsu, a youngster who should probably be back up in Sandanme. Kotetsu locked in immediately on Nakashima’s belt, forcing a long grapple that descended into a lean-fest as both behemoths tried to catch their breath. As they plodded around the dohyo, Nakashima eventually capitalized on his better position, forcing Kotetsu to step out.

Our other Makushita veteran, Tochihayate faced Tanimoto. Tanimoto joined last year in the same maezumo class as Fujiseiun and Osanai but got hurt in September. The younger Tanimoto weathered Tochihayate’s thrusts and scored an impressive win. With such intense competition down here in the bottom division, Tanimoto might end up being one of the finalists.

Lastly, Aoifuji gets scolded by Sawaisamu for shuffling his feet too much (“Ashi mada!”) but then proceeds to shuffle Sawaisamu off the dohyo. What does this say about his yusho chances? Not much. It’s Sawaisamu, after all. That’s Aoifuji’s benefit of being the last guy on the banzuke. You face rather weak opponents.

See you tomorrow with a wrap up of the maezumo action, followed by continued highlights from the cellar.

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