The Kyokai Promotion Party keeps going as the Sumo Kyokai released the list of wrestlers promoted to Juryo. There was some speculation that there may be as many as four but as it turns out, three wrestlers were promoted to Juryo, led by yusho winner Hokuseiho. Joining Hokuseiho as shin-Juryo will be Murata from Takasago beya. With the promotion, he’s changing to a “proper” shikona, Asashiyu. Churanoumi will be returning to Juryo after one tournament in Makushita. He had been sekitori since January of last year, climbing as high as Juryo 3 before injury and two poor showings dropped him out of the division. The banzuke for September is now known to the Kyokai insiders but we are left to guess who got lucky and who got the shaft.
With the conclusion of the Nagoya basho, I have posted the “omnibus” page with easy-to-navigate links to consolidate Tachiai’s coverage of the tournament. It was a very interesting tournament with many twists and turns, and some controversy. I hope you all enjoyed coverage of the Jonokuchi division yusho race and found yourselves fans of new wrestlers. There is a lot more of interest in that division than just the Shonanzakura losing streak.
In the Top division coverage, there are also many exciting storylines aside from the yusho race. This whole tournament brought back Hakuho and provides sumo fans a bit of clarity with new “White Hat” rival with a White Belt in Yokozuna Terunofuji. (It’s pretty exciting to be able to refer to him that way.) Hakuho seems to be everything Terunofuji is not and I am eager to see Terunofuji take on his nemesis in September.
That said, one of the big talking points coming out of the tournament will be Hakuho’s antics on the dohyo, particularly his euphoric shout on senshuraku and this shocking tachiai against Shodai. (*Edit* My son pointed out that the video below has more DISLIKES than Likes by a long shot.)
Personally, I think Hakuho was sending a deliberate message to Shodai during the now infamous tawara tachiai. If we go back to last year when Hakuho stood up during his bout with Takakeisho, goading the Ozeki to challenge him, we see more of that behavior in this bout with Shodai — and even earlier with Tobizaru. While Terunofuji was an Ozeki, worthy of his challenge, Shodai has only once cracked 10 wins as Ozeki. His “brand of sumo” is derided by sumo fans as “cartoonish” and his tachiai is notoriously weak. I believe Hakuho was saying, “I am tired of playing cat and mouse. I do not give chase. You come to me, ‘Ozeki’.”
His knee is obviously a concern, as are the numerous injuries and chronic ailments of other top-division wrestlers, not least of which are those of new Yokozuna, Terunofuji. But Hakuho was able to put together an undefeated run in his first tournament back from knee surgery, facing the sport’s top competition. Standing back a few feed did little to protect that knee from the strain of a top-level sumo bout. This did force Shodai to move forward and come to him.
Before the tournament, I had thought we would be lucky if he finished all fifteen days. With this win, though, and with Hokuseiho’s imminent promotion to Juryo, I have to wonder if he might stay around long enough to have Hokuseiho join him during his dohyo-iri. He has already said he wants win #900. But before he retires, others need to start beating him and they need to bring out their best sumo — even if Hakuho is displaying his “worst.” Rather than a drop-off in quality from the “prime-Hakuho” era, sumo fans deserve a clear transition where others are able to beat him, consistently.
The marquee matchup in the Jonokuchi division tonight was Shunrai vs Mogamizakura. As we’d discussed in previous installments, Mogamizakura had been a co-leader until he went head-to-head with an undefeated Tanimoto from Jonidan. He, and everyone else with one loss still had a hope of a play-off, if he could beat Shunrai.
However, Shunrai has looked very solid this tournament, rarely finding himself “in trouble” against an opponent. Today, at the initial charge, he tried an ottsuke with his right to lock Mogamizakura’s arm inside but Mogamizakura reached outside and around to grab for his belt.
“Ooo, we might have a great belt batt…oh, no, he gave it up. Oh no, he lost.”Andy, while watching the Yusho bout
About as quickly as he grabbed the belt, Mogamizakura gave it up when Shunrai reached in and wrapped up his upper torso. I wish he’d kept that grip and used his size to drive forward. But instead, Shunrai launched a quick attack of his own, dumping Mogamizakura at the edge of the dohyo. He has shown to be quite the belt technician so far and has won five bouts by either yorikiri or yoritaoshi, and the two others with throws, one sukuinage, and one uwatedashinage. It will be very interesting to watch him develop.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Jonokuchi division coverage. I’m eager to see where scrappy Byakuen ends up in September. He’s fun to watch.
At the beginning of Match Day 6, there were two undefeated Jonokuchi leaders. Since Shunrai was a new recruit and lower on the banzuke than Mogamizakura, and they needed Mogamizakura to face the lowest-ranked Jonidan leader, the Kyokai did not pit Shunrai and Mogamizakura against each other. Instead, Shunrai faced 4-1 Takashoki. Shunrai quickly wrapped up Takashoki at the tachiai; Takashoki’s arms flailing like a desperate, angry kraken. Shunrai plowed forward and forced the beast over the edge. Arrr…matey…ye’ stand at 6-0.
Mogamizakura was paired with the lowest-ranked undefeated Jonidan wrestler, Tanimoto. Sadly, there will be no yusho celebration at Shikihide beya. Tanimoto shifted left at the rather slow tachiai, and then drove forward to usher Mogamizakura safely over the tawara.
So, where do things in Jonokuchi stand? Basically, it’s Shunrai’s title to lose. If he wins tomorrow, he will win the yusho. I believe he will face the lowest undefeated Jonidan wrestler, Tanimoto. If he loses, senshuraku will have a barnyard brawl with the remaining 6-1 contenders. That field will be whittled down from the current 5-1 group as several go head-to-head. That 5-1 group is Mogamizakura, Kiryuko, Mukainakano and Abe.
I’ve got the video of Kiryuko’s exciting and hard-fought win over Miyagi and an extra, bonus bout of Chiyofuku versus Byakuen. Miyagi and Kiryuko both fought very hard to stay in this title chase. Miyagi clung to the tawara as long as he could but Kiryuko was too powerful and forced both to tumble hard over the edge. The ending of the bout, we also see Kiryuko’s deep bow as he headed down the hanamichi.
As for Byakuen, he will face serious challenges in Jonidan if he happens to get kachi-koshi. But the kid has heart so it’s good to see him win. Just before their bout, the video pans over to see Mukainakano, one of the chase group, come in and take a seat. The video starts a bit earlier than I usually crop the videos, I wanted to catch the early few moments of the day and the announcer stating the beginning of Jonokuchi.
*Note: I am a bit puzzled by the pairing off of Asasorai and Abe. Rather than having both Jonokuchi wrestlers face each other, the schedulers have put both against Jonidan competition. It doesn’t make sense as an “exchange” bout, like what we see up in Juryo and Makuuchi where a loser from the higher division faces demotion and a winner from the lower division can earn promotion. In each case, all of these guys are moving up the banzuke. If Asasorai and Abe faced each other, it would guarantee one 4-1 wrestler would fall off the pace.*
Speaking of Jonidan
The Jonokuchi champion from Natsu, Fujiseiun, is in the lead for the Jonidan yusho. Here’s his quick win against Higanzan. Fujiseiun should be paired against Osanai while we saw that the third wrestler, Tanimoto, would face Shunrai. If Shunrai wins, the yusho is his and the Jonidan winner of Fujiseiun/Osanai will win that yusho. However, if Shunrai loses, we get the big playoff down there and then Tanimoto would face Fujiseiun/Osanai. As a reminder, the playoffs would take place on senshuraku, if needed.
The next report will be on Friday, at the close of Match Day 7, and we’ll see then if we’ll have a playoff. Right now, though, it looks like Shunrai has this one in the bag.