Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 4

Not-quite-kaiju

Usually, Nagoya basho is a hot and slippery mess. But this one is full of lovely sumo and good fights. But first, let’s take a look at today’s maezumo, to follow up on the newcomers, before continuing with the ranked matches.

In the following video, we have:

  • Kotoomura (veteran) – Hokutenkai (new)
  • Omura (veteran) – Konno (new)
  • Urutora (veteran) – Bariki (veteran)
  • Hisasue (new) – Kochikara (veteran, sort of)
  • Kotoomura (again) – Senho (new)

Kotoomura got a fundamental yori-kiri from Hokutenkai. That man is not taking any prisoners. While Konno from Naruto and Hisasue from Kokonoe will have no good news to report to their oyakata, Hakuho’s Senho, despite looking as green as a fresh leaf, shows that he has some signs of sumo in him, not just henka. He can’t do a tachiai properly, but he is 2-0 in maezumo.

Jonidan

From Senho we move to Hakuho’s next youngest uchi-deshi, Toma, who is not quite as gangly as Senho (but on the other hand, he doesn’t have a cool shikona). Toma here attacks from the left, and Asanoshima from Takasago, from the right:

Toma is 2-0, keeping himself in the race for the Jonidan yusho. But the main contender for that is our next contestant, the dreamy Kitanowaka. Here he is on the right, with Chiyooga from Kokonoe beya on the left:

This one proved to be quite a challenge for Prince Charming, as Chiyooga is quite a sticky wrestler. But the Hakkaku man prevails.

Sandanme

So here is our friend Narutaki – the friendly guy from Isenoumi beya, who is rumored to be a good English speaker, by the way – on the left, vs. Izumigawa of Minezaki beya on the right.

Narutaki leaves the “nice” off the dohyo, and goes straight at Izumigawa. He is now 2-0.

Then there is Shoji, from Musashigawa beya. Here on the left, with Tsugaruumi from Tamanoi beya on the right.

The smaller guy does not pose much of a problem for Shoji. Oshidashi.

Makushita

We open Makushita with Shiraishi who, if you recall, is Natsu’s Sandanme yusho winner and a generally strong guy. But I’m not really happy with his sumo today (right, facing Keitenkai on the left):

He starts with a failed henka attempt, and then after engaging he does some backwards sumo. Ummm.

The highlight match of the lower Makushita was slated to be Terunofuji vs. Onojo (Takadagawa beya). Onojo is a regular Sandanme wrestler, with a few peeks into Makushita. Shouldn’t be a problem for a former Ozeki. But don’t place your bets yet:

Terunofuji allows Onojo to morozashi him. Morozashi – having both arms inside. The morozashi itself is danger. Having a morozashi with a firm grip on your opponent’s mawashi is usually a winning position. There are a couple of ways to get out of it – a double outside grip on the mawashi, which we have seen Tochinoshin perform in the past – gives good leverage for a lift. A double kime, which is what Terunofuji is attempting here, may be able to choke your opponent’s grip – if this was Nishikigi – or a lift, if you are the original Terunofuji who had knees.

But this Terunofuji doesn’t have them. And while he attempts his power sumo again and again, eventually the stubborn Onojo, who doesn’t let go of that mawashi grip throughout the dance, prevails. Terunofuji will not have the Makushita yusho this tournament.

Following the bout, he told the press the reason why the bout went the way it went. “I was planning to grab his mawashi, but my finger got loose”.

Finger? So as it turns out, the former Ozeki was practicing with Shodai. Yes, a Makuuchi guy and a favorite practice toy for Yokozuna and the like. And while he did this, he managed to damage his finger. Thank you, Shodai. We appreciate your vast contribution to Sumo. 🙄

So now we have a kaiju with no knees and no grip. Lovely.

We move on to Kototebakari, here on the left, facing Nishikifuji, one of Isegahama’s sekitori hopefuls, on the right:

Kototebakari is not here to cater to the hopes of anybody but himself.

This post is getting too depressing on the Isegahama front (Tomisakae also lost his bout. So let’s hope Midorifuji (right) can do something against Asabenkei, the Takasago guy who has sekitori experience, on the left:

Yes! Thank you, pixie. You made an Isegahama fan happy.

Middle Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, is facing Akua. Both former sekitori and wanting to get back there as fast as possible, thank you very much. Akua on the left, Wakamotoharu on the right:

Alas, the man from Fukushima fails, and only little brother Wakatakakage is left to save the family pride today.

Finally, Fujiazuma from Tamanoi beya is facing Prince Naya. Naya was rather devastated by yesterday’s matta-that-wasn’t-a-matta. He seems totally out of confidence, and of course causes a matta, which causes him to really lose his bearings. Let’s see how it goes from there (Fujiazuma left, Naya right):

The oshi specialist Naya gets himself entangled in a sloppy yotsu match. But somehow, he manages to survive and throw Fujiazuma with a sukuinage, to even his score. 1-1. Get a hold of yourself, kid.

Bouts from the lower divisions – Day 3 and 4

Sokokurai ready for sumo. Tomisakae ready for gymnastics.

I have an eclectic collection for you today, picked up from both days 3 and 4. We start with Day 3 maezumo, where there are some interesting faces.

As you watch, note the differences between maezumo and banzuke sumo. Only the first pair gets the full announcement and shikiri. The next one get short yobidashi calls with the yobidashi off the dohyo, and they are only supposed to bow and start the bout (but you will see a pair making a mistake there and the gyoji trying to correct them).

Maezumo is also not just for newcomers. Some are veterans who dropped off the banzuke following a full kyujo in Jonokuchi. If you fall off the banzuke (“banzuke-gai”), you have to go through mae-zumo again.

I’m skipping the veterans and introducing some of the newcomers to you. In the second battle, the guy on the left is Roga. His real name is Amarsanaa, and he is Futagoyama’s new Mongolian recruit. He certainly has the size for sumo, and his rival is certainly not in the same league.

The next bout is between Denpoya (18) on the left and Daitenma (18) on the right. Denpoya is a new recruit for Isegahama, from – where else – Aomori. Many of Isegahama’s recruits in recent times have been pixies. Midorifuji and Nishikifuji, who are considered the heya’s best new talents, are small sized rikishi. Denpoya, on the other hand, has the right size. It’s hard to judge his talent here, though, because unfortunately, he is paired with Daitenma, who is Azumazeki’s new Mongolian recruit. His real name is Chinzorig, and something about his stance tells me he didn’t come from Mongolia just to enjoy the warm weather and serve as a tsukebito for his entire career (I’m looking at you, Kyokusoten).

Bout number four features Watai, 16 years old belonging to Chiganoura beya, vs. Shimomura, 18, of Sakaigawa beya, who is the son of former Makuuchi wrestler Tsunenoyama. He seems to have no problem with the youngster. He (and Hamasu, from the next bout) graduated from the Saitamasakae high school, which won the team inter-high yusho recently.

So the next bout is between Hamasu and the hapless Daigonishiki from the first bout (there is an odd number of maezumo rikishi). Hamasu, 17, belongs to Onoe beya, and is the son of former Komusubi Hamanoshima.

Day 3 – Sandanme

Moving on-banzuke, we have Torakio vs. Tagonofuji:

Torakio gets his second win, and shows some promising techniques, but he really has a long, long way to go.

Next up is prince Naya (grandchild of the legendary Taiho), whom Hoshoryu lovingly calls “debu” (“fatso”) when they talk. I’ve seen worse “debu” in Grand Sumo (Hi, Gagamaru). Here he is matched with Kototebakari, who is also a very promising rikishi who suffered a similar fate as Naya when he advanced as far as Makushita, and got demoted back to Sandanme.

Kototebakari is not impressed by princes or dukes, and gets Naya in an uncomfortable morozashi. Naya tries this and that, but a morozashi is not something easily overcome (unless you’re Kagayaki, apparently). Naya faces his first loss – so no prospect of Yusho (in theory, yes, in practice, no). Naya, if you want to catch up to Hoshoryu and show him some “debu”, you better hurry up!

Day 3 – Makushita

What I have for you is the very entertaining, though short, bout between Tomisakae and Sokokurai. As it turned out, they each came with the intention of doing a different sport:

Sokokurai watches bemused as Tomisakae converts his hatakikomi into a somersault, and lands feet first below the dohyo. Tomisakae is the sumo world’s acrobat, known for his backflips. I hope he bounces back (see what I did there?)

Day 4 – Sandanme

I wouldn’t dare to skip an Ura bout. In fact, I wouldn’t dare to blink once the gyoji turns his gunbai.

Ura vs. Yutakasho

And the reason I wouldn’t dare to blink is that Ura is really not letting those bouts last very long. As Bruce said, his rivals are left wondering what just happened.

Day 4 – Makushita

And while prince Naya has let one slip, what has his name-calling friend been doing? Hoshoryu was paired with Irie today. Irie is a Makushita fixture. Hoshoryu is anything but.

Today Hoshoryu opted for oshi-zumo – not usually his style. He has been critical of this bout, though, when interviewed by the press post-bout. “I would have liked to push him all the way” he said. He ended up winning – but only on his second hatakikomi, when he would have preferred to win by going forward. The interesting thing, though, is that he is diversifying at a very early stage of his career. Just keep from getting injured, future Yokozuna!

Day 4 – Juryo

So here is the Juryo digest du jour:

  • Mitoryu finally manages to scrape a win off from Tomokaze with a nice shitatenage, though he started the bout by pulling.
  • Gokushindo, the too-cute-for-his-own-good new sekitori, seems to have bounced back from a harsh start. He manages to keep his balance throughout this match, and eventually Jokoryu basically beats himself.
  • It saddens me to see Chiyonoumi struggle this basho. Maybe it’s a case of single-dimensionality, but it looks more like luck of power. Shimanoumi just sweeps him like some dohyo dust. I suspect Kokonoe’s solution to this would be more chanko.
  • Toyonoshima suffers his first loss at the hands of Tobizaru. It’s not really a henka – the sidestep is after they meet – but he is certainly making the best of Toyonoshima’s own forward motion.
  • It’s not often that Takekaze gets to wrestle with an opponent who is smaller than him. I think he is not quite used to that. Enho said he was aiming for the Juryo yusho. At the time I dismissed it in the same way that I dismissed Nishikigi’s “I want to be a Yokozuna”. But Enho seems to be dead serious. He gets Takekaze in a quick morozashi, and although he loses half of it, he has his main target: that deadly inside arm hold on the veteran’s mawashi – right next to the knot. It’s not one of his most spectacular shitatenage, but it works.
  • The Kyokushuho – Azumaryu bout is your typical Mongolian sumo match. Ending with a classical shitatenage – Azumaryu’s win.
  • Chiyonoo finally manages to buy a win in this basho – and buys it with a henka. Or maybe a half henka, as he isn’t just letting Tsurugisho drop. Tsurugisho tries to struggle, but drops to 1-3 as well.
  • I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it looks like Akiseyama’s agility is getting more and more limited. Perhaps he is hiding an injury, or perhaps it’s all those kilos he has regained. Hakuyozan wins by yorikiri.
  • Terutsuyoshi, alas, failed to deliver today. Koyokutaisei manages to get him turned around, and at that point it’s over.
  • Ishiura only half-henkas today, but I’m going to forgive him, because his rival is Takagenji. Besides, he follows that with some exciting sumo his rival finds hard to find a solution to. Takagenji drops to 1-3, and Ishiura is even.
  • Wakatakakage starts his bout with what looks like Enho sumo – with that inside grip slowly advancing towards the mawashi knot. Unlike the pixie, though, he doesn’t seem to have that much of a throwing power. He then surprisingly releases that grip, and instead opts to push forward and force Hidenoumi out. Hidenoumi has yet to win a bout this basho. Wakatakakage is even.
  • Tokushoryu started the basho strong, and seemed to continue his form from the previous basho despite the kyujo in the middle. But Daishoho here wraps him up and sends him away in short order.
  • Kotoyuki’s bout with Yago is a show of hearty tsuppari – especially on the part of Kotoyuki. He has Yago against the bales, and Yago’s foot goes out. The nearby shimpan immediately raises his hand, but the gyoji sees neither the errant foot nor the shimpan’s signal. It’s the sort of thing I see more often in Jonokuchi bouts. In any case, the gyoji’s gunbai points to the correct direction, so no big fuss is made.
  • Aminishiki was trying for another tokkurinage. Well, he denies having aimed for that, but his hands seemed placed in the correct position. However, this is marked down as a boring hatakikomi. Too bad.

Day 5 – New Hopes, Dashed Hopes

So let’s start at the very bottom.

naya-hoshoryu
Naya and Hoshoryu – didn’t look like maezumo

There are mae-zumo bouts in every tournament. They usually pass almost unobserved, with only the sumo database to recall them from oblivion. But this tournament, we have two sublime scions who promise to make sumo interesting 10 years from now.

These are, of course, Taiho’s grandchild, Naya (who also happens to be Takatoriki’s son, but that fact is not paraded on TV and the press as much), and Hoshoryu, formerly known as Byambasuren, Asashoryu’s nephew.

And today, these two were matched against each other.

Hoshoryu is certainly channeling his uncle there when the gunbai points to his rival. Anyway, this looks a lot better than maezumo usually is.

Moving up a little bit, Torakio suffered his first loss today, after two wins.

The technique is not quite there yet.

And unfortunately, my main man Terutsuyoshi also suffered his first loss, in the battle of the former sekitori with Yago:

A valiant attempt at an ipponzeoi there at the end, but Yago had him from the get-go.

Let’s get up to Makuuchi, then. It was my day off today, so I was able to watch some live sumo for the first time. I caught the stream (Abema TV + VPN) right when Kakuryu was finishing his dohyo-iri. I must say I prefer the NHK broadcasts (which I got to watch recorded, never live). Too much stuff on the screen obscures the view, and the “female guests” that they promised only enhance the image of the “stupid broad who doesn’t understand sports and needs to be told basic things”. Bah.

But all this doesn’t make for bad sumo, right? So let’s go through the bouts:

Asanoyama got a Juryo rival today, Kyokutaisei, who was not really a match for the revamped Asanoyama. Yorikiri within the blink of an eye.

Ishiura was impressive in the first three days but now seems to be slumping back. We’ll have to see if he really improved when the sample size grows a bit. Ryuden did not let him do anything, really, and rebalanced his score a bit.

Daiamami, tells us Abema TV, has a pre-bout routine in which he pulls at his nose. Hmm… I prefer Arawashi’s salty mawashi. His bout with Yutakayama starts with some tsuppari, he follows with a nodowa. Yutakayama overcommits as he pushes him forward, but who got out first? Quite a long monoii ensues, and although Yutakayama was already flying out of control, Daiamami touched first, so Yutakayama gets the oshidashi win.

Nishikigi seemed to be in control of the bout, but Daieisho circled, causing Nishikigi to lose balance and winning by hatakikomi.

Abi and Kagayaki are of the same age. Abi just advanced from Juryo, and Kagayaki has more Makuuchi experience and looked strong in the beginning of the basho. He also has a slight height advantage over the Shikoroyama Peter Pan. But all of this list of advantages doesn’t do much for the buxom rikishi, as Abi moves quickly and pulls him down for a hikiotoshi.

Takekaze‘s game plan has been pulling down Daishomaru. Tried once, didn’t work, tried again. Tsukiotoshi and the old man’s first win this basho.

Sokokurai can’t seem to produce whatever magic he produced in Juryo. Kotoyuki pushes him out very easily for a tsukidashi.

Shohozan and Chiyomaru start with a tsuppari barrage, but Shohozan tries to get a mawashi grip. Chiyomaru evades and evades, but eventually Shohozan catches on and pushes him towards the edge. Chiyomaru only manages to stop himself when his toes are already outside. Hikiotoshi.

Now, the Aminishiki vs. Chiyonokuni battle did not look good. First, there’s Uncle Sumo’s sumo. I mean, it isn’t there. He can’t catch a grip on his rivals nape for one of the pull downs he likes, and he can’t get inside for a mawashi grip. But the worst part is that as Chiyonokuni rolls him to the exactly same corner when he ended up yesterday,  Uncle lands badly and hurts his right leg – the one with the snapped ligament and the brace. He had to go to the shitaku-beya leaning on someone’s shoulder. He will make a decision whether to go kyujo or not tomorrow morning.

aminishiki-hurt
Aminishiki. Couldn’t get back on the dohyo for the bow.

Next to Kaisei, Chiyoshoma looks like a teen. However, after he finishes his Harumafuji-like shikiri, they both struggle for a mawashi grip. Chiyoshoma gets a secure shitate grip, and uses it for a shitatenage. Once Kaisei is on the floor, Chiyoshoma gives him a helping hand up. Now that’s the Chiyoshoma I want to see.

Tochiozan doesn’t manage to get any grip on Ikioi, and starts to back away as Ikioi pushes, but then manages to catch at Ikioi’s neck and pull him down for a hatakikomi.

In the battle of the “Ikemen” (manly men), Okinoumi just can’t repeat his success from the previous basho. Endo fights him for the grip, and they end up in a hidari-yotsu, but apparently Endo’s hold is stronger and he pushes relentlessly for the yori-kiri.

Takarafuji, however, is back in the land of white stars. Arawashi doesn’t seem to even pose a problem for him. A harite, a nodowa, and an oshi-dashi. This despite the TV team (Kasugano oyakata commentating) speaking at length about the type of yotsu each of them prefers.

Shodai gets a good grip on Ichinojo, and proves to him that even mountains can be moved. Losing to Shodai, Ichinojo? Ichinojo gets his favorite grip first, but Shodai manages to switch grips without penalty, gets him all the way to the edge, and then dances a bit on the tawara and lets Ichinojo’s momentum do the rest. The Yokozuna must be thinking “Is it that easy?”.

BTW, In the “fun facts” box on Abema TV, they wrote that Ichinojo can sleep on the back of a horse. The TV team – especially Kasugano oyakata – start to crack jokes about the poor horses in Mongolia and Ichinojo’s weight…

What was supposed to be the highlight of the evening, the tadpole battle, ended up with Takakeisho doing the splits within seconds, and Onosho with another easy win.

Mitakeumi and Tamawashi get into a pushing battle. But Mitakeumi is the stronger one of these two, and Tamawashi can do nothing but retreat until he’s out.

Although he lost to Hokutofuji twice already, in addition to one fusen, Takayasu is fearless as he comes to the dohyo today. Takayasu combines a mawashi grip with oshi, and expertly gets Hokutofuji out in an oshidashi. Keeps himself within one loss of the leader group.

Now, Tochinoshin‘s bout with Goeido is one for the history books. Kasugano oyakata at the commentator seat looked like a cat who swallowed a bowl of cream. At first, the two battled for a grip, each denying the other his hold and looking for his own opening. Tochinoshin managed to secure a firm grip, and started pushing Goeido relentlessly towards the tawara. Goeido didn’t go out without a fight, though, and tried a leg trip. Tochinoshin maintained perfect balance, and kept applying his unbelievable force. Goeido joins Takayasu in the “1 behind” group. Great match.

tochinoshin-goeido

Kakuryu keeps sailing from one bout to the next with poise and hinkaku… Chiyotairyu is really no match, as Kakuryu gets a grip on him right off the tachiai and lifts and pushes, lifts and pushes until the Sumo Elvis passes the bales. I was relieved to see that Kakuryu’s attempt at gaburi-yori yesterday vs. Ichinojo (didn’t work, he had to change tactics and move the mountain sideways to win) did not cause him to wake up this morning with his back wrecked again. Keep up the good work, Yokozuna!

And now, to the musubi-no-ichiban. The last bout of the day. Yokozuna Kisenosato vs. Yokozuna bane, Yoshikaze. And the man in the green mawashi was not giving the crippled Yokozuna an inch of slack. Yoshikaze tried a pulldown at first, then got into a morozashi, and dropped him unceremoniously off the dohyo. He went down to offer him a hand up, which Kisenosato rejected. Things are not looking good for the one-year-old Yokozuna.

yokozunameter-hatsu-2018-day5

So Hakuho is out for repairs, Kisenosato has a serious kinboshi leak, and only Kakuryu is in a state of “Need a Yokozuna? I’m right here!”.

Yusho Arasoi

The leader list is now down to four:

  • Yokozuna Kakuryu
  • Sekiwake Mitakeumi
  • M3 Tochinoshin
  • M16 Asanoyama

(Asanoyama? “Been there, done that, got the sansho”)

Day 4 Undercard Matches to Watch

 

Day 3 was a day of firsts and saw many first-time meetings between rikishi in the top division. Day 3 also marked the first official bouts (maezumo) of a brand new crop of rikishi making their professional debuts. Included in this group were legendary Yokozuna Taiho’s grandson Naya and the former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew Houshouryu. While their careers may have just started, these two have very bright futures ahead of them. If they can channel the spirit of their forebearers, they may one day become stars of the sport! With Day 3 in the books, let’s move on to Day 4, which has just as many exciting bouts on the undercard!

Daiamami vs. Myogiryu

Day 4 starts off with Myogiryu making a return to our TV screens for the first time since he pulled out of the Kyushu Basho in November. He will take on Daiamami, who I imagine is still trying to recover from being henka’d out of his mawashi by Ishiura yesterday. Daiamami has the size and strength to be a real threat, but he needs to get his sumo up to Makuuchi levels if he wants to stay in the division come March. These two have met three times prior, with Myogiryu leading 2-1.

Ishiura vs. Nishikigi

It looks like a stint in Juryo was just what Ishiura needed to get his sumo back on track! With three straight wins, he finds himself at the top of the leaderboard and one win ahead of his stablemate Yokozuna Hakuho. His Day 4 opponent is Nishikigi, who has only one win after three days. Nishikigi has spent the last three Basho straddling the line between Makuuchi and Juryo, and will need to start posting wins or he’ll be back in the second division before he knows it. Ishiura has dominated their rivalry 7-2.

Abi vs. Ryuden

It’s the face-off of the Makuuchi rookies! Neither Abi or Ryuden have had a great start this Basho, and both come into Day 4 with matching 1-2 records. After two days of over-committing on his thrusting attacks, Abi managed to get his tsuppari going against Grampa Bullfrog Takekaze to pick up his first win. Ryuden, on the other hand, started strong but has been out-muscled in his last two matches. This meeting should be an interesting one, as both fighters use very different styles. Abi and Ryuden have faced off only once before, in a bout won by Abi.

Asanoyama vs. Yutakayama

Don’t worry, you’re not seeing double! Asanoyama takes on his perfect twin Yutakayama, complete with matching oichomage, on Day 4. Asanoyama has been hot as of late and is looking like the confident young rikishi who won our hearts at Aki. With three straight wins, he has a share of the leaderboard going into Wednesday. His doppelganger Yutakayama, however, is struggling much like the last time he entered Makuuchi. Tomorrow marks the fourth time these look-alikes have clashed, and Yutakayama will be trying to even their series to 2-2.

Takekaze vs. Daieisho

Tadpole Daieisho will get a glimpse into his future when he meets Grampa Bullfrog on the dohyo tomorrow. Takekaze has not found much success in the new year and comes into Day 4 winless. Takekaze is the second oldest active rikishi in Makuuchi after Aminishiki, and as such, the possibility of retirement grows every Basho. But like Aminishiki, Grandpa Bullfrog still has a few tricks in the bag, and we may see them if his winless streak continues. Better stay on your toes Daieisho!

Shohozan vs. Aminishiki

Shohozan, you better not play too rough tomorrow! If you break Uncle Sumo, I don’t know if I’ll forgive you. After a terrible tournament in November, it looks like Shohozan has remembered that he’s one of the toughest S.O.B.’s on the dohyo, and he’s been brutalizing almost everyone he’s faced so far. Enter Aminishiki, who seemed a bit lost and confused today in his bout with Sokokurai. He will need to be focused tomorrow, or Shohozan may lay a beat down on him. Luckily for Uncle Sumo, the numbers are on his size, and he has an overwhelming 11-4 lead over Shohozan. Shohozan has lost the last nine times he’s faced the wily veteran, will tomorrow be the day the streak ends?