Welcome to Team Tachiai’s coverage of the 2022 Nagoya basho. We have two kadoban Ozeki, a Sekiwake with Ozeki dreams, and a big broad collection of strong men ready to battle it out for the Emperor’s cup. Nagoya is always a great tournament. It’s held in July in an auditorium that really does not have sufficient air conditioning to keep things cool, so everybody sweats – a lot. In addition, this is the first tournament since COVID where they will allow full capacity in the venue. This is an excellent step forward toward re-normalizing sumo, and I look forward to the day when folks are permitted to shout and cheer again. What’s more – we are going to get a mini-jungo in August. How’s that for getting back to normal?
What We Are Watching Day 1
Ryuden vs Chiyomaru – Ryuden, ranked at Juryo 1E, is 8 wins away from returning to the top division after serving a 3 tournament suspension an falling to Makushita 47. He has been quite dominant over Chiyomaru with a 7-1 record against the spheroid.
Nishikifuji vs Daiamami – Nishikifuji makes his top division debut against freshly returning Daiamami. who has not held a Makuuchi rank since this time last year. This is a rematch of the May playoff for the Juryo yusho, with both men now in the top division. Nice addition to day 1.
Yutakayama vs Oho – Two bulky guys who are struggling to live up the their ample potential. Maybe a Tanabata wish for both of them should be resolution to their various long suffering injuries that would finally allow them to fight at full power. Oho has a 4-0 record over Yutakayama, so maybe he will get an opening day win.
Onosho vs Tsurugisho – Onosho broke a rib in May in his day 5 match against Takakeisho, and wisely went kyujo. He is a solid joi-jin class rikishi, and if he is healed up, he is going to really deliver some brutal spankings this far down the banzuke. But look who he is facing day 1! It’s dear old Tsurugisho, who has been struggling to compete in spite of accumulating injuries. I hope we see a good tournament from him this July.
Myogiryu vs Takarafuji – Takarafuji finished Natsu 4-11, Myogiryu has not had a kachi-koshi since his jun-yusho at Aki 2021. Both of these men can bring powerful sumo to the dohyo, when they are healthy. That’s really the only question today; which one is more banged up. Myogiryu has a solid 14-7 career lead over Takarafuji.
Terutsuyoshi vs Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s sumo and fighting style is greatly improved in the past year, yet he has not had a kachi-koshi yet for 2022. Terutsuyoshi is not doing much better, with just 2 kachi-koshi in the past year. Neither one of these guys is a slacker, and its all down to injuries for them as well. They share a 5-6 career record.
Ichiyamamoto vs Midorifuji – Midorifuji accumulated a respectable 9-6 kachi-koshi during his May debut in the top division. Ichiyamamoto has been plugging away at the bottom end of the division since a faltering 5-10 debut in January, which he followed up with two 8-7 winning records. Ichiyamamoto took their only prior match, and I would think he is also favored today.
Kotoshoho vs Meisei – You might ask, what the hell is Meisei doing this far down the banzuke? This is thanks to his 5-10 make-koshi from Komusubi 1, with a 1-14 from M3 as a chaser. He did manage 8 wins in May to keep him in the middle third of the banzuke. If he finally over tos injuries, he’s going to be trouble for everyone else.
Chiyotairyu vs Kotoeko – Another tournament, and again I get to wonder how long Chiyotairyu is going to keep going. He’s not brining the power and aggression to the dohyo that was his trademark up until last year. I think he has struggled since the COVID kyujo in January 2011, and has never quite bounced back.
Shimanoumi vs Nishikigi – Readers know I have a soft spot for Nishikigi. The guy is quiet, friendly, polite and just grinds away at sumo like its the only think he was ever meant to do on this earth. Did you know he has a kinboshi? He managed to climb the banzuke up to M2 in January 2019, and dumped a faltering Kakuryu to the clay for a gold star. Today he’s up against Shimanoumi, who seems stuck near the middle of the banzuke with no means to climb higher, but just enough mojo not to end up closer to the bottom.
Tochinoshin vs Hokutofuji – Every time I decided that Tochinoshin is too banged up to continue on, the former Ozeki rallies and pushes his way back up the banzuke. His two consecutive kachi-koshi now see him ranked at Maegashira 8, and If he’s healthy enough, he’s capable of 8 wins at this rank. But what the hell is Hokutofuji doing at M7? Injuries, of course.
Okinoumi vs Tobizaru – Speaking of grizzled veterans, here is Okinoumi, who continues to grind on in the middle of the top division. He’s capable of beating anyone on the right day, and so he remains an excellent proctor for up and coming rikishi trying to charge up the banzuke. With a massive lexicon of techniques, he’s close to being a living archive so sumo excellence. Note that Tobizaru has a 4-2 career lead over him, thanks to his rapid, high agility technique.
Aoiyama vs Sadanoumi – Also in the “They just keep rolling” category is “Big Dan” Aoiyama, the rikishi I vote most likely to own a Harley post retirement. I am tempted to set up a “Go fund me” page just to get sumo fans to pitch in an get him some kind of hog. Speed demon Sadanoumi has proven to be a competent opponent for him, with the two having a balanced 10-8 career record.
Wakamotoharu vs Endo – There has been some background noise that Endo has lined up his kabu (sumo elder stock) for use, and it has set off speculation that he may be considering a retirement date. Like anyone who competes in sumo, a time comes when the injuries are lingering, and you just can’t fight with the speed and strength you expect. Until we are going to get to enjoy him fighting Wakamotoharu who makes his first appearance in the joi-jin. This is on the back of 5 straight kachi-koshi records that had him march from Juryo 3e up to M4e in the space of a year. Nice work sir.
Hoshoryu vs Ura – With the rank and file matched up, its time to dig into the named ranks. I would point out the lksumo treated us to a nice preview of these match ups, and it was great to read. The trick with Ura is you have to wonder what kind of crazy stuff he’s going to try to deliver. I am sure Hoshoryu knows not to leave an arm or hand too far forward, or it’s grab and tug time.
Tamawashi vs Daieisho – This is Tamawashi’s third Maegashira 3 rank in the past 4 tournaments. Solid consistency from one of sumo’s legendary iron men. He holds a nearly balanced 10-9 record against Daieisho, and this fight will likely come down to if Daieisho can get his hands inside and land some kind of “mega-thrust” in the opening moments of the match. He he lets Tamawashi square his shoulders and put full power forward, Daieisho find a fast path to the clay.
Wakatakakage vs Ichinojo – There has been some buzz about Wakatakakage and an Ozeki promotion coming out of Nagoya. Yes, he has a 12-3 yusho to his name, but his score in May was a paltry 9-6, and I would think that the NSK would like to see him put together 3 consecutive triple digit scores before the give him the nod. He gets to fight the continental land mass explores call Ichinojo. After taking May off due to COVID kyujo, the living bridge pier is likely rested, rowdy and ready to toss a few ponies.
Kotonowaka vs Shodai – I love this day one match up for Kotonowaka, as he gets to chew on Shodai, who has been a pathetic wreck. Shodai has already kadoban twice so far this year, and is a skilled and strong rikishi, but he seems to either be injured or unmotivated. Either way, it’s sumo’s laoss.
Takanosho vs Mitakeumi – The second of our glorious kadoban twins is home town hero Mitakeumi. Given his blistering performance in November, January and March, there is no way that May’s crummy 6-9 was not injuries. Hopefully the battle damage has been repaired and he’s in fighting form. Onogiri-kun Takanosho has a tied 6-6 career record against the Ozeki, so I am anticipating a big fight.
Takakeisho vs Kiribayama – For a time in May, it looked like we might have all three Ozeki kadoban for Nagoya, but Takakeisho pulled through with 8 wins and holds the top 1E slot in Nagoya. If he’s healthy, he will be a strong contender for the cup. If his is still busted up, well, we will just have to hope for the best. His fight today against Kiribayama won’t be easy, as Kiribayama has been incrementally putting together increasingly impressive sumo.
Terunofuji vs Abi – To a healthy Terunofuji, as bouncy rabid Abi is about as menacing as an angry goldfish. But the big question for Nagoya are the condition of the Yokozuna’s knees. That will likely be one of if not the biggest factor in July’s tournament – just how strong is the Yokozuna. We will get our first test of that today.