Makushita Yusho Race Heats Up

Tonight there are three yusho race elimination matches in Makushita between 3-0 record-holders with kachi-koshi on the line as well as a slot in another to follow. The headliner in tonight’s action is Abi. The former Komusubi will face Shinohara. Shinohara is certainly a young one-to-watch, having won first yusho last year in his debut tournament…the “silent basho” back in Osaka.

That’s right, the same tournament that saw the debut of Nabatame, Hayatefuji, and Taiyo (all of whom he defeated in that first tournament). Others to debut in that same tournament were Kirameki and Takeoka. A solid recruiting class. Thanks to the SumoDB, YouTube, and Twitter, there are several videos of him in action out there but Abi will clearly be his biggest challenge yet. One bout of interest would be this one against former sekitori Takaryu, from Hatsu.

He’s got a complimentary oshi-style so this bout against Abi should be a bit of a slap-fest, if the two get into it. He’s also got a great hatakikomi weapon at his disposal. In a similar move, he got wrapped up here against Hokutoshu but at the tawara tries ottsuke to dislodge Hokutoshu’s arm before deciding to bring him down with Midorifuji’s patented katasukashi.

With his fast, powerful tachiai, Shinohara will be an interesting challenge but should certainly be out of his league against someone who has faced Hakuho four times, including this kinboshi. There were a few videos online but I chose this one because it’s over so quickly so the slow-mo replay is helpful. Some of the other videos made me really miss zabuton-throwing.

Tomorrow, a bit further down the banzuke, Tomokaze is up for his kachi-koshi in another yusho race elimination bout.

Abi and Gokushindo Survive, For Now

A massive thank you, Herouth, for diving into the news sources and cutting to the chase. In short, the Abi saga, and his career, is not over — yet.

The Kyokai is holding onto Abi’s resignation. They have decided to punish him quite severely with a three tournament suspension and 50% cut in pay. He will have to accept the punishment, pledge in writing to not break the rules or cause further trouble, and he will also be required to move back into Shikoroyama-beya so he will be under direct supervision.

Save me Jebus

Gokushindo has been revealed to be the lower-ranked wrestler who accompanied Abi. He has been suspended for two tournaments. We have also learned that Abi had *many* excursions to the “night business” which contravened the Kyokai’s rules. This was not a couple of times but a pattern of behavior which he then attempted to cover up.

A key question that comes out of this is, will there be any changes to the strict rules the NSK imposed to prevent a COVID outbreak? Abi was joined on his outings by supporters. Despite Abi’s punishment, one would doubt that the supporter’s backing will be turned away. However, he finally may have the “out” that he needed to turn down the supporter as now, his career apparently hangs in the balance.

In a sense, was Abi going out to hostess clubs or was Abi the host? And what happens when you get your favorite host fired? Would the backer continue to be a supporter when Abi’s career is over? Or would he move on to another wrestler? With Abi now grounded, will the supporter need to find a good night out somewhere else?

Fans provide key financial backing to wrestlers, stables, and the Kyokai. We have seen how the end of Jungyo, cancelling and curtailing of tournaments, and severing of contact with the public has impacted the Kyokai. They fought to hold the March and July tournaments. They needed to hold the July tournament as much as we needed to see it. But they had to do it safely. Let’s hope we can all find some sort of balance.

In closing, I apologize, I’m not full of answers today; I’m full of more questions. The question that will be answered first, and likely in the coming days, is “will Abi accept this?” As Leonid reported, at least Shikoroyama-oyakata can celebrate Oki’s rise to the salaried ranks. He may be heyagashira soon.

Abi hands in intai documents

Japanese press reports that Abi has handed in his intai documents, according to Shikoroyama oyakata.

The board convenes on August 6th to discuss his punishment, and will also decide whether or not to accept his resignation. However, the chances of it not being accepted are said to be slim.

Abi Kyujo

With Shikoroyama in the broadcast booth, he explained Abi’s sudden kyujo. After his match yesterday, he went out to dinner with a few people. This contravenes the COVID-related precautions. Once ex-Terao found out, he notified the Kyokai and the decision was made to hold Abi kyujo. No timing on the withdrawal was provided but I wonder if it will be the common 14-day quarantine. Mitakeumi will get the freebie win today. Tomorrow’s schedule will be revised since Abi was set to take on Asanoyama.