Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 5

The schedulers did not pit Setonoumi against Mifuneyama. Mifuneyama was needed for another bout in Jonidan, against an undefeated Kogomaru so Setonoumi faced Agadzumazakura. Despite the advantage of a matta, telegraphing exactly what Setonoumi was going to do, Agadzumazakura was caught completely wrong-footed and blasted from the dohyo. Mifuneyama’s tsuppari was too much for Kogomaru as the latter rikishi’s knee buckled and he fell backwards. Both men remain undefeated.

There are now four challengers with one loss if they decide to avoid the battle of the undefeated until a possible seventh bout. Kokuryunami made short work of Chiyofuku so I skipped that bout. Instead, I have Kototaiko in an entertaining battle with Tamanotora. Ito then out-leaned Ariake and Watanabe muscled Wakayutaka over the tawara to remain one back.

Leaders: Setonoumi & Mifuneyama

Chasers: Kokuryunami, Kototaiko, Ito, Watanabe

Unfortunately, there was not much to the Byakuen or Kato bouts as they were quickly defeated. Kato seemed to regress a bit, looking like his previous performances in the last tournament. We’ll keep an eye on them going forward but today I’ve decided to add a great bout with Nangu from Jonidan. At first I just wanted to add him to the post because his shiko is usually much better than the average low-ranker. However, he actually won the bout with a nice shitatenage.

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 4

Two Jonokuchi leaders have locked in their kachi-koshi, winning records. Yesterday, Setonoumi punched his ticket to Jonidan with a convincing, Abi-style win over Ariake, which I’ve got below. In reviewing data on their careers, I had found Setonoumi to be a clear oshi/tsuki-style wrestler to the point where he seems allergic to yotsu-style sumo. He started his Grand Sumo journey just over a year ago in Osaka. All of his wins come from oshidashi, tsukidashi, hatakikomi, oshitaoshi, and hikiotoshi. He’s also been fairly successful at keeping others off his belt, only losing once to yorikiri and another to yoritaoshi.

Ariake, on the other hand, is an experienced veteran with more than a decade of experience under his belt. (In sumo, that phrase doesn’t quite provide the same meaning, does it? Anyway, let’s not dwell on what’s under anyone’s belt.)

Back to Ariake, he actually prefers belt work. He’s got 50 wins using yorikiri to 33 losses. But he’s not as one dimensional as his opponent, having won 39 oshidashi bouts (but losing 45). However, he didn’t get much of a chance as Setonoumi launched into some blistering tsuppari, followed by a quick pull-down. Chalk up another hatakikomi.

Mifuneyama joined Setonoumi tonight with an easy win over Jonidan’s Shoryudo. I would expect the two to face each other, possibly Tuesday. In that case, we’d have a clear leader with several guys 1-loss back with a chance to stay in the hunt during the final two days.

A bout with Mifuneyama will be a brawl as Mifuneyama is another oshi-man. He’s a more accomplished challenge for Setonoumi because he’s spent the bulk of the past decade battling it out in Makushita, falling into Jonokuchi due to injury. However, he is susceptible to hatakikomi, having lost 27 bouts to getting slapped down. Likely the most interesting matchup in Jonokuchi this tournament.

The Araiso Method

In the two-loss bracket, Araiso-beya’s Kato may join the others in Jonidan if he keeps up his aggressive run here. Tonight he had a wild back-and-forth with Takatairiku.

Byakuen joins the crew at two losses as Watanabe contained and overwhelmed the Tatsunami sparkplug. Several guys from last tournament are doing well in Jonidan as Kiryuko and Hitoshi got their kachi-koshi. Mogamizakura is another of this year’s recruits who has already got that all-important fourth win.

I don’t want to give the impression that these low-ranked bouts are a bunch of walk-over, easy wins. As the competition went through Jonidan, there were several hard falls.

Yoshinofuji got his bell rung, falling back and hitting his head against the tawara and seemingly knocked out for a few seconds. Immediately the blue-jacket brigade came in to assist. Yoshinofuji was clearly uneasy with his footing and Abema thankfully cut to an ad.

I’m sharing that because this is quite a welcome improvement and the first-aid training needs to continue. I’m not going to provide footage of that particular incident. Another hard slam came in mid-Jonidan with Nakao lifting Akinishiki and slamming him to the edge of the dohyo. Thankfully, Akinishiki popped up quickly and seemed no worse for wear though he may rethink his choice to wrap both legs around his opponent. Another Yori-ta-OUCH-i.

Lots of action to go as we start week 2!

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 3

Today, I’ve got a quickie write-up looking at the Yusho Race in Jonokuchi and some Jonokuchi alumni.

The Jonokuchi Yusho Race

The field of undefeated wrestlers in sumo’s lowest division is rapidly coalescing around a few serious contenders. Setonoumi benefited from rather easy schedule as he faced Takatairiku. The Tokiwayama teen paid the price for his double matta as Setonoumi blasted him backward. Ariake advanced past Watanabe and Chiyofuku beat Agazumazakura. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find video of those bouts online and I’d not gotten home yet to tape it myself.

However, I did get to watch tonight’s bouts. Unfortunately, the Kototaiko bout was nothing to write home about. I wish I’d started the recording a little early and got Nangu’s bout. Other than his excellent shiko, he had a great come-from-behind win over Wakafujioka. I do have footage of Mifuneyama taking on Kokuryunami but I’ve prefaced it here with Ito against Asahabataki. I don’t think Ito’s out of this race and he disposed of Asahabataki quickly. Likewise, Mifuneyama outclassed Kokuryunami.

They’re going to need to schedule Setonoumi against an undefeated wrestler at some point. I was a bit surprised that he didn’t get more of a challenge today and that they had Kototaiko move up to Jonidan for his bout. That ended in disappointment. We should see Setonoumi against Mifuneyama, Ariake, or Chiyofuku. In either case, that should be an entertaining bout but a Setonoumi/Mifuneyama bout would be very interesting. I’d pip Setonoumi because he’s seemed pretty aggressive and mobile in these early bouts.

Another undefeated rikishi in Jonokuchi is Byakuen! Well, he did miss his first bout so he’s got one absentee loss but he’s definitely in the hunt. His win against Daitenshin is pure sumo entertinment. He sure is a Houdini and I am very impressed by the way he turned the tables there at the edge of the dohyo. I wonder if they’ll pick him to fight Setonoumi next. You know, I think I may actually prefer to see that bout over Setonoumi vs Mifuneyama. Both look pretty quick and Byakuen seems quite elusive so Setnoumi would be quite the test. But Setonoumi is undefeated so the schedulers should really preoccupy themselves with testing him. Nonetheless, I think we’ll get a few more entertaining bouts out of Jonokuchi for Day 4!

Jonokuchi Alumni

I do have a couple of bouts of Jonokuchi alumni in the early hunt for the Jonidan yusho. In this first bout here, I’ve got two guys who finished 5-2 last tournament, Hitoshi and Nobehara. Both are strong guys who could develop into solid wrestlers pretty quickly. Hitoshi had the technical edge today as he took advantage of Nobehara’s lack of balance for a quick slapdown victory.

At the start of the video you can see our next featured wrestler, Mogamizakura, practicing his tachiai in the tunnel in the background. He could use some more practice but does well to keep his balance against the veteran, Daishohama. He offers quite the contrast from his former stablemate, Shonanzakura. In fact, he’s probably got a good chance at being heyagashira before the end of the year or early 2022 in 2022 or 2023. This win for Mogamizakura and Hitoshi move them to 3-0, one win from early kachi-koshi.

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 2

Jonokuchi bouts are an interesting mix of talented up-and-comers, injured veterans, and hangers-on. Often, bouts are nothing more than an easy shove or throw but there are also some fun grapplers on their way up. But occasionally you get a performance that comes out of nowhere. And in this tournament, Kato might just be that surprise.

Kato

What a difference one tournament makes. I didn’t share many videos on Match Day 1 because this early in the there’s not really a yusho race and a lot of the Jonokuchi bouts are rather one-sided yorikiri or oshidashi. However, if there was one thing that I noted, I realized that I may need to revise my opinion on Kato. After Kato’s first bout, I found myself questioning whether this was the same kid who almost lost to Shonanzakura in July and who actually did lose to Higohikari in May.

I had come into this tournament ready to anoint Kato as the likely successor to Shonanzakura as Sumo’s Patron Saint of Futility…not just due to lack of technique but lack of interest or effort. But if things carry on like these first few days, it will be my absolute pleasure to be proven wrong. I saw my first glimpse of that change in his Day 1 defeat to Daitenshin. After a fairly solid tachiai, he was quickly ushered back to the tawara but he put up quite a lot of resistance. There was not much technique in that bout but the key was that he fought back pretty hard, and that surprised me. But was it a one off? So, I decided to file that bit of intrigue away and monitor his effort a bit more this tournament.

Today, on Match Day 2, he fought Byakuen. And under the firm tutelage of Araiso-oyakata it looks like he will not only get out of Jonokuchi, this kid may well have a career in sumo. Now, as background, Byakuen gives 100% in every bout I’ve seen. He’s my new Ikioi and I hope he will always bring that level of genki. Nevertheless, Kato gave him a run for his money today. Boy, did he pay for it with that hard fall from the dohyo. Ever the sportsman, Byakuen came down to offer a hand and Kato popped back up and went about his day. I’m not saying he’s sekitori material but these two bouts have been a real sea change from what effort he’d shown previously.

The Contenders

With Ito’s Day 1 loss to Setonoumi, Ito falls out of the race for now while Setonoumi assumes his spot at center stage. It was a quick win, possibly a sloppy loss on Ito’s part, but it showed that Setonoumi has experience, technique and bit of moxie. Will that carry him through this basho? Surely he’ll pick up the four wins but will he be able to keep it up? Yes, this is very early but in Jonokuchi, it seems easy to whittle the field down to a couple of real “contenders” quite early. As the schedule worked out most of the winners bracket competed last night, with the only exception being former contender Ito against Hokutoizumi. The rest of the bouts were mostly winners against winners.

The first bout sees Ariake outlast Kotoegashira, both of whom are coming off two-basho kyujo. Ariake is the more experienced of the two but just plain overpowered Kotoegashira, lifting him out. He’s been as high as Sandanme and surely will escape Jonokuchi, but will he be in the hunt for a title?

Setonoumi also advanced in a one-sided bout against Daitensho. Mifuneyama, tipped by TigerBoy1966 in my previous post, also had an easy go of things against Takatairiku. Kokuryunami followed up that bout with a win over the more evasive Daitenshin. Unfortunately, Kyonosato failed to get consecutive wins as Agazumazakura shoved him out. Chiyofuku weathered a valiant effort from Tamanotora and Kototaiko worked a rather exhausted looking Shinzan over the bales. Finally, Watanabe had no problems against Azumayama in tonights lone “winner” bout.

Two Wins

  • Ariake
  • Setonoumi
  • Mifuneyama
  • Kokuryunami
  • Agazumazakura
  • Chiyofuku
  • Kototaiko
  • Watanabe

So, we’re already down to eight guys with no losses thus far in Jonokuchi and that group will shrink rapidly over the next few days. Most of these guys won in rather quick and easy fashion so I expect the next few days will be full of more challenging bouts. I hope schedulers pit Ariake and Setonoumi together. That would be a spirited bout. But frankly, I’m hoping some of the one-loss guys work their way back into this yusho run. Byakuen for the win!