Bruce’s Banzuke Commentary

Hello dear readers, we had the Haru banzuke show up a few hours ago, as it is now early Monday AM in Tokyo, and there are clusters of lower division rikishi shuffling to and from the Kokugikan with bundles of printed ranking sheets. I am sure our resident ace prognosticator lksumo will post is reaction shortly, but in the mean time, here is mine.

Sumo in the current era is all about chaos and struggle. There have been a handful of top ranked rikishi who are hoping one day to put together three consecutive 10+ win tournaments, but none of them have the consistency right now to make it work. To that end, the three men at Sekiwake: Wakatakakage, Hoshoryu and Kiribayama, represent that group. Only Kiribayama hit double digits, at 11 wins, in January, picking up the jun-yusho and the gino-sho in the process. Wakatakakage managed 9-6, and an injured Hoshoryu finished 8-7. While Kiribayama might be able to make the case with double digit wins in Osaka and Natsu, the rest of them are starting from scratch.

There are 4 men at Komusubi, and my favorite is Daieisho, who forced a slot with a 10-5 finish from Maegashira 1W. But I think the ice breaker may have been Tobizaru getting a 8-7 from Maegashira 1E, but he ends up at K2W because two of the prior Komusubi were able to hold rank. Talk about a train wreck.

Shodai is at Maegashira 1W, which when I compare it to Mitakeumi’s identical 8-9 result in Kyushu put him at Maegashira 2E. Well, it’s just a half rank, but again we see Shodai’s banzuke luck in action. There are a lot of good rikishi from there down, but I am going to focus on two specific to my interests:

Hokuseiho: Maegashira 15E – Hakuho’s monster-truck deshi shows up a couple rungs above the bottom of the banzuke. I am eager to see what he is going to do down there, as most of the troops in the bottom third are hit or miss. I think he may play better wtih “ozan” twins at Maegashira 14.

Asanoyama: Juryo 1E – I don’t blame the NSK for making it hard on Asanoyama. His COVID era screw up was bad enough, but not coming clean when caught is a big deal. But in my book they should have put him in the top division just to add some interest in the fan base. I can’t speak for the fans in Japan, but I know the global audience wants to see him in action again, and I think he’s a good shot for the next man to be promoted to Ozeki.

Let me know what caught your eye in the banzuke in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Bruce’s Banzuke Commentary

  1. Asanoyama didn’t do enough for promotion(5th best case with 4 demotees), and so he didn’t get promoted. This was the right decision, whether he broke covid protocol or personally saved every grandmother in Japan from being run over.

    • I think we will see Asanoyama ‘guest spotting’ in the top division this time. Had he been 15-0 I think they would have pulled the trigger on him but they are right with the slow comeback. They need strong, healthy Ozeki in the top division and he fits the bill if he can keep his momentum.

      I do like that the odd loss is keeping him honest.

    • I wouldn’t phrase it like that, cause he certainly did do “enough” to be promoted to makuuchi. Rather, it’s that other rikishis above him did themselves too good for that to happen.

  2. Hmm…Any word yet on whether Terunofuji is fit for purpose in March ???
    Shodai…Yeah, well….
    Theres a jump up….Ochiai went from Mak div ch. 7-0 in Jan into the J’s at 14….Nice one..😀 and i don’t think he has enough hair for a Mage yet…
    Tochinoshin…..Is this it for the Georgian????

    • I feel he will be a stand out in Juryo. He might bounce for a few tournaments but sadly Tochi’s best days are behind him and he should consider his future health.

      His knees are only going to get worse.

  3. Given his rank, Asanoyama needed to go 15-0 for a certain promotion. He had a good shot at 14-1, but a bunch of results broke against him, most importantly M3w Midorifuji losing to a wrestler 12 ranks below him, M15w Mitoryu, on Day 15. Had Mitoryu lost, he would have switched places with Asanoyama. As it was, the numbers just didn’t work in his favor, and he would have needed special treatment as a former Ozeki to go up. Completely agree it’s a waste, and I was rooting for the results to break his way over the closing days, but them’s the breaks.

  4. I’d like nothing better than to see Tochinoshin get a real case of the “red ass” one last time and just wreck shop in Juryo this March and go 15-0. I know, I know, I’m dreaming. Also, I’d like to see the Mighty Mite (Enho) go double digit wins and return to Makuuchi.

    As for Asanoyama, the moment he recorded that one loss his Makuuchi return for March evaporated. None the less, it’s a bummer to see a wasted Makuuchi rank going to a ham and egger like Oho instead of having Asanoyama back. Oho may still bloom in the future but as of now he ain’t ready for nor worthy of prime time.

    Moving on, I hope Mr. Attitude (Hoshoryu) finally takes his maiden yusho. Unlike Wakatakakage who faltered a bit after his maiden yusho, I think once he bags his first, Hoshoryu will be a serious force to be reconned with for some years to come.

    Lastly, I suppose we have to address the elephant in the room and endure the endless blah blah blah about Takakeisho being on a rope run.Much as I hate to admit it, Butterball will almost certainly be a Yokozuna in May unless he goes in the tank this basho. Sumo Gods please help us and deliver us from the possibility of Yokozuna Butterball!!!

  5. I’m rather surprised Tochinoshin was dropped to Juryo. I thought he’d hang on by the hair of his chinny chin chin and be M17.

    Now that he’s out of Makuuchi I think this is the beginning of the end for him. My prediction is that if he doesn’t get kachi-koshi and return to Makuuchi after this basho he’ll retire.

    • With 2 wins at M11, it wasn’t remotely close. Every single wrestler with that record ended up in juryo, and at J2 Tochinoshin is actually ranked higher than all of them. Even 3 wins at M11 has always resulted in demotion, as has 4 wins on all but a few occasions.

    • That might depend on what he’s retiring to. My assumption has been that he will return to Georgia and not stay in sumo. In that case he might stay as long as he’s in the paid ranks, retiring when he falls out of juryo.That’s just speculation.

  6. I‘m very happy they didn‘t promote Asanoyama. It would have meant an almost free and illegitimate jusho from the bottom of the maegashira against poor opposition.

  7. Dear All. Let’s gain the awareness that sumo has become a media phenomenon. If they would keep it as a mere religious ceremony they should not allow even TV transmission.
    The scarce interest for the global fans is also witnessed by the successive decision against the worthy work of Kintamayama & Co.
    Asanoyama was hardly punished: one and half year in the best period of the career is, by me, more than enough. Seeing him in Makuuchi would have increased dramatically the interest for a basho that is not offering so much more than the question mark about promotion of Takakeisho. Personally, I’m a little fed up of pusher/thruster style’s domination. I started loving sumo with Takanohana and Asanoyama, together with few youngsters, represents a template of sumo which I do not like getting lost.
    On the other hand, I must be aware that I talk to the wind….


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