Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 4

With Day 4 about to begin, the rest of our “Ones to Watch” will be on the dohyo for their second match. During day 3 action, Wakaichiro went down to defeat after taking a bad step during his match and launching himself from the dohyo. He came out very strong at the tachiai, and frankly looked like he was doing some damage to Kamitani before that stumble took him down. Amakaze picked up his second win, Hoshoryu lost to former Makuuchi rikishi Seiro, while Roga and Musashikuni both picked up their first wins.

Naya vs Fujiazuma – Both are looking for their first win. Fujiazuma is a former Juryo mainstay, so this will be a hard match for Naya. Neither of these rikishi are really in promotion range this basho, unless the top ranks all go down to make-koshi.

Wakamotoharu vs Akua – Again Akua is in a Ones to Watch head to head match. Both rikishi are 1-0, so the winner will join the leader group. These two actually have some history together, with Wakamotoharu holding a slight 3-2 edge.

Midorifuji vs Asabenkei – Midorifuji won their only prior match, but it’s just the one match, though it was just at Natsu. Speed will likely be the order of the day.

Terunofuji vs Onojo – Former Ozeki continues his march to return to the salaried ranks, though he is now at the bottom end of Makushita with a long road ahead. His sumo still seems off, mostly due to mobility issues from his unrepairable knees.

Shoji vs Tsugaruumi – Another 1-0 bracket match, Shoji is up against long serving Sandanme mainstay Tsugaruumi, who has suffered several absenceses in his 45 tournament sumo career.

Kitanowaka vs Chiyooga – After dominating Jonikuchi, Kitanowaka finds himself in mid Jonidan, and facing relative newcomer Chiyooga on day 4 for his second match. I think Kitanowaka may still be a bit under ranked at Jonidan 46, but lets see if anyone can slow him down.

Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 3

Welcome to an abbreviated “Ones to Watch”, has Herouth has done her marvelous job of providing sumo fans with a feast of video goodies from the lower divisions. Day 3 features bounts from Wakaichiro, Amakaze, Musashikuni and Hoshoryu.

Hoshoryu vs Seiro – Hoshoryu certainly punched his card for “Serious Contender” on day 2, and now he faces the highest ranked rikishi in Makshita: Former Makuuchi rikishi – Seiro. As both me have 1 wins, this will help form the field of promotion contenders for September. Time to shine little dragon!

Wakatakamoto vs Terao – Another 1-0 bracket match, this rematch of an Osaka 2017 bout will give Wakatakamoto a chance to even the score.

Roga vs Fujita – Roga got a close look at the Nagoya clay in his day 2 loss, and looked quite out-classed. This was always a possibility once he crossed into Makushita, but I expect he will bounce back and fight hard for 4 wins.

Musashikuni vs Kaizen – I don’t know what kind of physical problems Musashikuni is still nursing, but he continues to struggle, even at a greatly reduced rank. His fans can only hope he can pull it together.

Amakaze vs Baraki – I continue to think that Amakaze is probably under-ranked right now, so I expect him to dominate the majority of his matches. Baraki spent two tournaments in Makushita, and has been largely in Sandanme for his 40 basho career.

Wakaichiro vs Kamitani – This will be an interesting match for Wakaichiro. Kamitani is a 17 year old rikishi in his 9th tournament, and he has had a largely upward path leading to this, his first ever Sandanme posting.

Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 2

Roga’s Ready To Rumble…

It was a great day 1 in the lower divisions, jammed full of fantastic sumo action. From our list, I can report that Kitanowaka, Amakaze, Shoji, Wakatakamoto, Midorifuji and Wakamotoharu all won – opening the Nagoya swamp tournament 1-0. But day 1 was nearly the delicate appetizer to the double wide, muck encrusted battle Royale that is day 2. With many of our most eagerly anticipated rikishi on the dohyo day 2, it’s time to stay up late and follow the results any way you can. Will I be tired and bedraggled at work tomorrow? Sure! But it will be completely worth it.

How does this roster of awesome strike you…

Hoshoryu vs Irodori – This match is a run-away beer truck, careening down hill. It cannot be stopped, it will not be stopped! I would rather they both won, but this is one hell of a Makushita joi-jin this July, and it’s time to start stacking up the bodies beside the dohyo.

Akua vs Naya – Oh hell yes! Both of them are strong, low and heavy. Akua really wants to build a path back to Juryo, but it’s time for Naya to test his sumo against the elite.

Keitenkai vs Roga – Keitenkai had made it all the way to Juryo before injury saw him sit out almost a full year, and end up back in Jonokuchi by the time he returned. Back to back 7-0 yusho for both Jonidan and Jonokuchi put him on the path back, but his injuries have never quite healed, and he has had 5 consecutive make-koshi tournaments. Now he battles a hit rising star in Roga. This will be a great benchmark on how far Roga’s natural strength and energy can take him.

Terunofuji vs Aoi – Aoi is flighting close to his highest ever rank, and as a prize for this effort, he gets to face a well motivated former Ozeki looking to climb back into the paid ranks. Terunofuji looked greatly improved during Natsu, but his knees are still a shambles. Nobody knows how he is going to fare in Makushita, but it’s going to be worth watching.

Asakishin vs Musashikuni – I am quite sure Musashikuni is quite frustrated to find himself back in Sandanme, but after 3 consecutive make-koshi tournaments, there was no room left to drop further down the Makushita banzuke. If it helps, his opponent, Asakishin, has fared no better, and in fact lost their only prior match.

Wakaichiro vs Kotootomo – Wakaichiro has stated that he will accept nothing short of a kachi-koshi in Sandanme this time. He managed 4 wins at Sandanme 94 West in Nagoya last year, but struggled following a set of mechanical injuries. He looks stronger, bigger and healthier now. His sumo technique has also greatly improved. Perhaps the hot, swampy conditions of Nagoya will remind him of his native Texas, and give him the extra edge.

Hattorizakura vs Kotoyamato – With the earthquakes in California, many are looking for further signs and portents of impending doom. We are keeping a close eye on sumo’s perpetual loss leader, Hattorizakura, for any sign of actual sumo. If it should happen, it may only be seconds before everyone needs to duck and cover. We will keep you posted.

*It should be noted that Chiyonokuni is not on the torikumi for day 2, and may in fact not participate in Nagoya. We hope our favorite “Grumpy Badger” can heal up and return soon.

Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 1

Welcome back to our feature where we dig into some of the action further down the banzuke; in the divisions below Juryo. It’s a combination of hard-charging young up-and-comers battling against fading stars and mainstay rikishi returning from injury. The action here is frequently hit or miss, but as we love to say about the upper Makushita, these rikishi are almost to the salaried ranks, and the battles here are sometimes more action packed than most of the televised matches for that day.

Day 1 action is light for our roster that we are watching, with most of the heavy action apparently slated for day 2. But lets go over who is on the dohyo to start the tournament in the sweat box that is Nagoya.

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – After a single basho as a sekitori, Onami brother Wakamotoharu could do no better than a 3-4 make koshi in May, and finds himself at Makushita 5, well back in the pack and possibly out of range to bid for promotion in any real sense. He faces former Maegashira 4 Fujiazuma, who at 32 years is finding his body struggling to support his sumo.

Midorifuji vs Hokutokawa – Midorifuji is not on a meteoric rise up the banzuke, but it’s notable that he has racked up 4 consecutive kachi-koshi since Aki 2018. This approach has put him at Makushita 11, his highest ever rank. His opponent, Hokutokawa, sat out Osaka with injuries, but came roaring back, and is likewise fighting at his highest ever rank.

Wakatakamoto vs Inoue – Further down the torikumi, we find another Onami brother. Wakatakamoto is looking to bounce back after a 2-5 make koshi in May, and fight his way to the higher spots in the division. He faces 19 year old Inoue, who is at his highest ever rank, and has been kachi-koshi in the last 3 tournaments.

Shoji vs Genbumaru – Shoji is one good tournament away from breaking back into Makushita, and possibly bypassing Musashigawa’s flagging scion Musashikuni. Genbumaru, his opponent, is fighting near his highest ever rank.

Amakaze vs Kototora – Former Juryo mainstay Amakaze has produced 6-1 and 5-2 records since his return from a 8 month kyujo. He has also become a bit of an internet star for videos showing him enthusiastically eating all manner of goodies. I expect him to have little trouble with Kototora, as I think Amakaze is under-ranking right now.

Kitanowaka vs Ota – Kitanowaka was very impressive in his first basho, resulting in a 6-1 record and a solid move into Jonidan. He faces a long serving veteran in Ota, who has been ranked as high as Makushita. I expect Ota will faithfully undertake the tempering of young Kitanowaka, who is fresh from the wide open play-yard of Jonikuchi.