初場所2022: Mitakeumi Yusho!

Congratulations to Mitakeumi on his victory over Yokozuna Terunofuji. In a thrilling final day, Mitakeumi clinched the yusho outright during the final bout. His strong ottsuke prevented Terunofuji from getting an inside grip. He then drove forward, forcing his opponent out. Terunofuji, for his part, tried to reach over Mitakeumi but it was too late.

During the broadcast of the yusho ceremony, the NHK announced that a decision on Mitakeumi’s Ozeki promotion was imminent. The interviewer shared the news with Mitakeumi during the yusho interview and he understandably became choked up with emotion. His mother was in attendance at Kokugikan and obviously overjoyed at her son’s win. He’s been on the short list for promotion for quite some time.

Though he’s been able to maintain a high-level of sumo, winning twice before and remaining consistently in sanyaku for much of the past four years, he’d not been able to string together the consecutive double-digit wins needed at this level. With both Takakeisho and Shodai kadoban in March, the shin-Ozeki will find a challenge as they will have extra motivation to perform well.

Hatsu 2022: Jonokuchi Yusho

Well, all of the buildup in Jonokuchi over the past 10 days culminated with a rather perfunctory oshidashi win and yusho for Nakashima over the blocking-sled, Nishikimaru. It’s the first great leap forward as he attempts to climb back to Makushita. Congratulations!

In Juryo, Ryuden had been penciled in as a repeat champion, certain to defeat zambara-wearing Nishikawa. Leonid has been keeping us posted on the yusho and promotion situation there as things heated up.

If Ryuden had been a 90% favorite in each bout in Juryo, it’s still a significant challenge to put together a string of 7 consecutive wins. He had succeeded in Kyushu. Here in Tokyo he certainly defeated his biggest threats earlier in this tournament by defeating the up-and-coming Atamifuji as well as former top division wrestlers like Tomokaze and Akiseyama.

Despite his experience as a top-division competitor, after the matta I have to wonder if nerves got the better of him today. He very nearly lost flat out at the tachiai. You can hear the gasps of the crowd as Nishikawa’s first pull down attempt nearly succeeded. He briefly recovered but didn’t have much of a counter-attack going. Nishikawa took his chances and the second pull down attempt was successful.

Down in Jonidan, Asahanshin defeated Kawamura for the yusho. You may remember Kawamura had been in our Jonokuchi coverage in November but had the bad luck of facing both Chiyoshishi and Raiho, losing to both, and squeaking by with a 4-3 record. It was a very close call for Asahanshin but he successfully pushed Kawamura out from behind for the okuritaoshi win. Both are likely on track for sandanme. Speaking of Sandanme, Asahanshin’s Takasago stablemate, Osanai, will face Mukainakano in a playoff on senshuraku.

Shimanoumi and Myogiryu Kyujo

Word in the Japanese press that Shimanoumi and Myogiryu are kyujo as of day 11. There is no explanation given as to why they have both withdrawn. My concern is that they have contracted the Omicron variant, and we may see a rapid spread among the rikishi thanks to the last 11 days of competition. Should that be the case, there is a question in my mind about if they will be able to conclude the basho at all.

Whatever is plaguing the two of them, we hope they are able to recover soon.

Both were part of the “Darwin Funnel” group at with 5-5 scores. Their day 11 opponents, Endo and Wakamotoharu will each receive fused wins, with Wakamotoharu improving to 6-5, and Endo staving off make-koshi for yet another day, advancing to 4-7.

Hatsu 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 6

First up, I bring you a great little bout between Urutora and Nishikio. Despite the obvious size disadvantage, Urutora picked up an impressive shitatenage win. We also have a great treat from quite the drama in the yusho race!

Because of an odd number of undefeated wrestlers in Makushita and the need to balance the bouts with undefeated wrestlers from lower divisions, the higher-ranked Nakashima visited Jonidan, leaving Aoifuji paired off against one-loss Tanimoto. Aoifuji tried the pull-down at the tachiai, and it nearly worked but Tanimoto recovered. Tanimoto then countered with superior footwork and powerful thrusting, wining by oshidashi. This left Nakashima with a chance to take the lead on his own, or a chance for a cluster of 5-1 wrestlers going into the final match day.

Kitanomine returned in March of last year from an extended (2+ year) kyujo. He had been steadily rising in Sandanme before his injury and even made it back to the division late last year but was kyujo again in Fukuoka. So both he and Nakashima are experienced and have the skills for higher rankings. This bout had me on the edge of my seat, Kitanomine had the early advantage and very nearly shoved Nakashima out but Nakashima fought back. His win means that on Friday (Day 13) he will have a chance to lock up the yusho!