Reports from morning action in Tokyo (courtesy of SumoSoul) show Wakaichiro winning his 4th match to start Hatsu with a 4-0 record. This locks in his kachi-koshi (majority wins) for the basho. Should we win additional bouts, it will help increase the level of promotion for March. After a set of disappointing tournaments,, and rumors of problems in his legs and shoulder, it’s welcome to see Wakaichiro fighting well.
Day 8, Nakabe – the middle day of the basho, is upon us, and the scheduling team has gone wild putting most of our “Ones to Watch” on the torikumi. Are we excited? Yes indeed! We almost got Herouth’s hoped for match of Ura vs Hoshoryu, but Hoshoryu is taking on Ichiyamamoto (also one of our ones to watch) instead. Should they both win or both lose, they could face each other next.
We also have fan favorite Wakaichiro fighting early in the day, along with several of his Musashigawa stablemates. It’s going to be wall to wall, and Tachiai will be glued to our streams from the start.
Hattorizakura vs Shishimaru – What would nakabe be without the perpetual parade of defeats brought to us by the little guy? We would all love to see him win for a change, but first he must WANT to win.
Wakaichiro vs Asanoshima – I can’t describe how excited I am to see the rikishi from Humble, TX face off against 3-0 Asanoshima. This is in fact a rematch, with Wakaichiro winning their prior match. Asanoshima has been in sumo since the mid 2000s, so it’s youth against experience tonight.
Shoji va Saionji – A 2-1 bracket match pits Musashigawa’s Shoji against Sandanme mainstay Saionji from Shikihide heya. This will probably come down to the all important tachiai, as the two are fairly equally matched.
Torakio vs Kaizen – The scion of Naruto heya faces Asakayama heya’s Kaizen in this 2-1 bracket match. Kaizen has been flipping between Makushita and Sandanme, and tends to get a kachi-koshi at this rank. I predict it will be a bit of an uphill challenge for Torakio.
Musashikuni vs Aozora – A note on Musashikuni (nephew of former Yokozuna Musashimaru), he seems to have suffered a foot injury a few weeks a go, and it has been negatively impacting his sumo. Coming into this match 0-3, make-koshi is on the line, and we hope Musashikuni can find a way to endure the physical challenge and win.
Midorifuji vs Kainoryu – Ushering in the fan favorite section of Makushita, Midorifuji will take on Kainoryu in a 1-2 bracket match. Kainoryu is fighting at his highest ever rank, and looking to pick up 3 wins from the last 4 matches. But former Kinki University rikishi Midorifuji will be no easy mark.
Ura vs Kairyu – This 2-1 bracket match is back to back with another pair of high interest rikishi, and I suspect the atmosphere in the Kokugikan may be closer to that of a top division match for a few minutes. Ura’s opponent is a 28 year old veteran who has been ranked as high as Makushita 2, and represents the kind of rikishi he will have to fight is way past to return to the Juryo ranks.
Hoshoryu vs Ichiyamamoto – Immediately following the Ura match, fan favorite Hoshoryu mounts the dohyo for another 2-1 bracket match. He faces another of our “ones to watch”, former Chuo University star Ichiyamamoto. This one has a lot of potential as well!
Some of our readers, and many sumo fans in general, have complained that recent basho have ended up being “Sumo light”, due to the lack of Yokozuna and Ozeki participation. As we near the half way point of this basho, we are down to 1 Yokozuna and 1.5 Ozeki, and the focus really has shifted to the lower ranks. With so many titans of sumo off the dohyo, the focus has shifted to the lower ranks.
I am impressed that Goeido is soldiering on, and finding ways to win in spite of the problems with his right arm. I expect him to go kyujo after he can manage an 8th win. Thankfully Hakuho looks genki enough, and Takayasu seems to be over his flu.
Chiyonokuni defeats Yutakayama – Any match with Chiyonokuni has the potential to be a mad-cap barn burner, and today Yutakayama put everything he could towards a win. The result was a wild tsuki-oshi fest that see-sawed back and forth. A great way to start the top division today.
Kotoyuki defeats Daiamami – A second spirited bout to start the day, Daiamami held advanage several times, but The Penguin battled back each time. At attempted slap down reversed the opponents, and Kotoyuki put Daiamami’s back to the tawara, and pushed with purpose.
Yago defeats Daishomaru – Hapless, winless Daishomaru has nothing serious to offer the surging youngster Yago, and goes down to defeat. We did, however, get to see Yago engage in a oshi-zumo match, and win.
Ikioi defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma’s attempt at a face slap embedded in his tachiai (ala Hakuho) results in Ikioi getting poked in the eye. In spite of (or fueled by) this, Ikioi surges into battle with yet another injury and finds a way to overpower his opponent. Word is he was complaining of vision problems following the match.
Abi defeats Takarafuji – There seems to be some magic in Abi-zumo, as he effectively landed a nodowa against a many with no neck. Takarafuji found hims sumo disrupted, and battled to clear Abi’s attacks, but ran out of dohyo to maneuver.
Endo defeats Kagayaki – Both men threw the kitchen sink at each other, with Endo calling the tune. At one point their early oshi fest went chest to chest and the competitors actually did look like they were dancing. Post match, Endo was holding his forehead – another oversized bandage for a Kagayaki competitor? Maybe he needs to modify that tachiai.
Asanoyama defeats Sadanoumi – Member of the Kagayaki head wound club Sadanoumi cannot endure Asanoyama’s spin attack, and eats clay. Asanoyama picks up a much needed win.
Kaisei defeats Onosho – The only rank and file undefeated rikishi takes a loss at the hands of a surprisingly genki Kaisei. With this loss, Hakuho has sole possession of the lead.
Daieisho defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze seems to have completely run out of energy to compete at the Makuuchi level. It’s painful to watch.
Chiyotairyu defeats Aoiyama – The hatakikomi came quickly, and made me gasp. Few rikishi are big enough and fast enough to roll someone the size of Aoiyama, but Chiyotairyu certainly can.
Okinoumi defeats Ryuden – Ryuden seems to have lost his fighting spirit, and each day seems to be going through the motions. Kind of tough to watch, but when injuries happen, this is the result.
Hokutofuji fusensho Mitakeumi – Mitakeumi damaged his knee day 6, and is missing an excellent chance to run up the score against a reduced Ozeki and Yokozuna force. Hokutofuji picks up back to back default wins, something that has not happened in decades.
Myogiryu defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s magical adventure in the joi-jin looks like it has run out of gas. Can he refuel and return to surprising his opponents? I do hope so. Myogiryu gets a much needed win.
Tamawashi defeats Tochiozan – Tochiozan was on defense the entire match, and Tamawashi batted him about before deciding to finish him.
Takakeisho defeats Ichinojo – Ichinojo has reverted to the docile form of whatever species he is, and failed to deactivate Takakeisho’s wave action attack by grabbing his opponent’s mawashi until it was too late and he was already struggling for balance.
Takayasu defeats Kotoshogiku – Takayasu’s recovery from the flu continues, and he delivers the hug-n-chug to counter Kotoshogiku’s favorite attack strategy. With advantage in size, youth and joint health, Takayasu carried the match.
Goeido defeats Shodai – Impressive that Goeido is finding ways to win, now up to 3 wins out of a needed 8. He was helped by Shodai’s trademark crappy tachiai. Shodai was able to back to Ozeki to the bales, but did not lower his hips to thrust out Goeido, and instead Shodai launched his own body higher. Goeido capitalized on this blunder and won.
Hakuho defeats Shohozan – Hakuho is the lone undefeated rikishi, and is the man to beat for the Emperor’s cup. Shohozan could not generate much offense, and Hakuho waited for his moment and pulled “Big Guns” Shohozan down.
A smaller lineup of our “Ones to Watch” for Saturday, but there are some find Makushita matches to track, as we get towards the half way point for many of these rikishi. The competition for what may be just a handful of Juryo slots will be increasingly brutal as we near the conclusion of Hatsu, and we will be watching with interest.
Kenho vs Kirizakura – Kenho is winless, and another loss today would mean a make-koshi, and a demotion back down to Jonidan. Compared to Kenho’s amazing bulk, 100kg Kirizakura is a light-weight, but I am sure we will see some high-agility small-man sumo tonight.
Naya vs Terao – Naya is looking fairly solid thus far, and comes into this 2-1 bracket looking for his next win. Terao has been knocking around Makushita for the bulk of the last several years, and bring a serious challenge to Kaio’s grandson.
Wakatakamoto vs Ohata – Another 2-1 bracket match we see the lower ranked Waka brother up against a fairly young opponent in Ohata. Ohata, from Tokitsukaze heya, is near his highest ever rank, and seems to be competing well. Should be a good match.
Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – Near the half way point, only a handful of Makushita rikishi are still unbeaten, and these two are the highest ranked. This is a Darwin match, and may have a direct impact on if Wakamotoharu has a shot at breaking in Juryo. With this much on the line, it’s going to be a flat out battle!
Akua vs Kiribayama – Both rikishi enter this match with 2-1 records, but Akua has beaten Kiribayama in both of their prior matches. Both are ranked high enough that its possible they could be considered for elevation to Sekitori, so there is a lot on the line for them both.
Friday morning in Tokyo, Wakaichiro won his 3rd match of the Hatsu basho, defeating Fudano in a fast paced match that had the rikishi from Texas dominating for most of the bout. Compared to Kyushu, Wakaichiro is lower, strong, more confident and moving with purpose. He does get into a spot of trouble, but has the sumo sense to recover. With the win he improves to a healthy 3-0 record.
We expect him to return to action on day 8, and we will bring you all of the details once the fight schedule is published.