Before the Emperor’s Cup would end up falling to whomever was too slow to get out of the way, four young lads mounted the dohyo in an exciting playoff for the Jonokuchi title. It must be quite the change in atmosphere for the youngsters who fought in relative silence over the past fortnight. Now they get to come on after the conclusion of the Juryo action to a packed, relatively raucous, arena.
You may ask, why do they do these playoffs after the conclusion of Juryo and before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri? Well, sometimes there’s also a Juryo Playoff, like today. To allow for that, they conduct all of the lower division playoffs, and the yusho presentation ceremony, before the top division action starts. This way if there’s a makuuchi playoff, they can just get right to it. And if there’s not a Makuuchi playoff, well, the party’s over and everyone goes outside to line up for the parade. (It’s nice to have those back.)
Back to the Jonokuchi contest. Today we’ve got Kazekeno (the favorite), Yamato (the leg puller), Tanji (the pup), and Arise (the other guy). When the four walked out, they drew lots to determine who faced whom. Kazekeno drew Tanji for the first bout and Yamato paired off with Arise.
In Bout #1, Kazekeno took on Tanji. I didn’t realize until now that Tanji is only 15. When I was 15 I was giggling to Beavis and Butthead, playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and occasionally braving the Carolina sunshine to play roller hockey. Instead, Tanji has set out on a very interesting career path. Today, that path intersected with Oshiogawa-beya’s recruit from Chuo University. Kazekeno came out and hit the youngster so hard, the whole crowd gasped. “Finish Him.” While Tanji staggered and tried to regain his balance, Kazekeno hit him again, putting Tanji on his ass.
I’m confident that we will see the youngster make considerable progress. At 17, while I would have been working up the courage to ask a girl to prom, this kid will be battling to reach sekitori. When he’s 22, I’m calling sanyaku for this kid. Mark my words.
In Bout #2, Yamato wrapped up Arise’s leg and forced the poor kid to bunny hop around the ring before dumping him in the corner. I guess Arise doesn’t read Tachiai because the leg grab is kind of Yamato’s thing. While it works, keep doing it. Am I right? Yamato’s victory set up a rematch final between Yamato and Kazekeno.
One way to defeat someone who’s going to grab your leg or trip you is to never give them the chance. Come out hot and hit ’em hard, just like with Tanji. Yamato looked a bit “over-genki” and came off the line early. Matta. Regular readers of Tachiai would know this is when my Spider-sense kicks in, looks like a henka is incoming.
And what do you know, Yamato shifts to the left at the tachiai! But Kazekeno must have known what was up because he didn’t plow forward. Instead, he waited and played it conservative and patient. He fended off a few of Yamato’s attempts at a leg grab and with the last one, struck down with just enough speed and force to send Yamato tumbling.
Party at Oshiogawa-beya tonight!
Jonidan Playoff Extra
But first, we’ve got a little more sumo. I bring you, the Jonidan yusho playoff.
It’s nice to see when a wrestler prepares for a bout. Hanafusa had a plan and put it into action immediately. He locked in quickly on Kototebakari’s right arm and rotated while seeking a belt grip with his own right arm to execute a throw. Kototebakari struggled to fight him off while maintaining his balance in this death spin. As Kototebakari approached the tawara, Hanafusa abandoned the attempted belt grab and brought his hand down on his opponent’s shoulder, attempting a katasukashi pulldown. But Kototebakari resisted, maintained his balance, wrapped up Hanafusa’s shoulder and threw him out of the ring while he jumped out to the side. Kototebakari maintained one foot alive in the ring just long enough to claim the win. What a thrilling bout!
— 日本相撲協会公式 (@sumokyokai) May 22, 2022
Well, that’s the end of my Jonokuchi coverage, and the bonus Jonidan footage. Above is a picture of all of the lower division yusho winners. Left to right we’ve got Nishikifuji (Juryo), Oshoma (Makushita), Kamitani (Sandanme), Kototebakari (Jonidan), and Kazekeno (Jonokuchi). We look forward to bringing you more action from the lower divisions in July, as well as news on new recruits in the interim.