Kyushu 2019, Day 9, Bouts From The Lower Divisions

Today we have lots of matches that affect the yusho races in the various divisions. An interesting situation is developing in Makushita. But let’s start from the bottom.

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Kyushu 2019, Day 1, Bouts From The Lower Divisions

Kyushu basho is off to a great start, with some exciting sumo all around. Let’s tune in!

Jonokuchi

The day started with a match between Okunihisashi, from Nakagawa beya, who has been banzuke-gai for a while and returns this basho, and Tatsunami beya’s latest recruit, Yutakanami, here on the right:

Looks like Tatsunami oyakata got lucky with his pick this time. This boy goes on the “ones to watch” list.

We continue our watch Hakuho’s latest recruit, Senho, who had a meh basho in Aki, to see if the Dai-Yokozuna’s Midas touch is still effective. Senho, on the left, faces Shishimaru from Tagonoura beya.

While Senho’s tachiai is still naive, and his body language is still hesitant, he certainly learned how to yori-kiri like a pro.

At the top of Jonokuchi we meet Yamane, from Naruto beya. He is not quite in the same category as his formidable heya mates (Motobayashi, Sakurai, Marusho, and Mishima), but he is definitely the cutest. He meets Ogitora from Dewanoumi beya, on the right.

Too high, cutie-pie. It’s Ogitora who walks away with the white star.

Jonidan

The next division’s bouts start with Fujinoteru (the off-brand rikishi) from Onoe beya on the left, attempting to get his first white star from Shoryudo, a Shikihide beya opponent. Fujinoteru on the left.

That, my friends, was a sleek tsutaezori, and it’s only the 17th time it has been performed in Grand Sumo. You don’t need flashy back bends to perform that, apparently. It’s Fujinoteru’s win.

The next bout features the man best known for flashy back bends. That’s Ura. He is back, and he is here to conquer Jonidan. The first hurdle is Daishojo from Oitekaze beya, on the left.

Wham! This was a bout with one wrestler and one crash-test dummy. Sorry, Daishojo. Ura safely carries the white star back home.

Another one of my favorite watch list is Chiyotaiyo, the stick insect from Kokonoe beya. He is on the left, and Asahinishiki, from Asahiyama beya, is on the right.

Although Chiyotaiyo seems to have put on a half-kilo, maybe even a whole one, it is also apparent that he has leg issues. Too bad. I hope we’ll see better sumo from him in the coming days, because he certainly has some waza.

Last from Jonidan, our all time favorite bow twirler (emeritus), Satonofuji. On the right, the 42 years old faces Shunpo from Minezaki beya, less than half his age.

We can argue about this opening move. Is it a henka? Is it a half-henka? A HNH? A hit-and-shift? Whatever it is, Satonofuji is not here to get an easy slap-down. He grabs Shunpo and practices some heave-ho. Okuridashi.

Sandanme

Let’s start with Kaishu, from Musashigawa beya, whom we have been following for a while. Today he faced Miyabishin, from Futagoyama beya. Kaishu is on the left.

Kaishu makes up for his lack of weight with an extra helping of aggressiveness. He is all over Miyabishin in a jiffy, and ends up with a yori-kiri.

Now we move on to the first big gun from Naruto beya, Sakurai. His opponent today, on the right, is Oka, whom we formerly knew as Minatoryu, Ichinojo’s slightly cheeky tsukebito.

I was very surprised to learn that Sakurai lost on the first day. It’s certainly not something he is used to. We’ll see how he bounces back. Oka goes back to Minato beya with a white star in his belt.

We move from Naruto beya’s lead charmer to Hakkaku beya’s holder of the same position. Kitanowaka, a sujo favorite, stands opposite Kawabuchi from Shikoroyama beya. Kitanowaka is on the left.

And he is definitely not here just to be eyed by the ladies. Kawabuchi barely knows what hit him.

Finally, the top Naruto, Motobayashi. The man who wants to join the 21 club this basho. He also meets a Shikoroyama opponent, Seigo this time. Motobayashi is on the left.

If Motobayashi’s style reminds you of Takakeisho, you’re not alone. He considers himself a rival of the current Ozeki, who was in high school at the same time as he, and their score against each other is 2-2. Motobayashi chose to continue to university when Takakeisho opted to join the sumo world, but they have similar size, similar style, and similar ambition, and he hopes to catch up with his old rival.

Makushita

We start by introducing a youngster who should probably be on our “ones to watch” list. The reason? He made it to Makushita, being only 17 years old. That’s not at all common. Even Hakuho and Ama were 18 when they hit Makushita. Kisenosato did make it at 17. The boy had straight kachi-koshi since he enlisted. His name is Tanakayama, and he is from Sakaigawa beya. On the opposite side (the left) we have Fukuyama from Fujishima beya.

Unfortunately, this was a bad match to follow that grandiose introduction, as Tanakayama is defeated in his first bout. It is the second time it happens in his career, and he has a good chance of keeping up his kachi-koshi machine going.

Next, we continue our follow up of the “Chiyoshoma wannabe”, Shiraishi. The man from Tamanoi beya is on the right, facing Bushozan from Fujishima beya.

The reason I call him “Chiyoshoma wannabe” is that he is quickly gaining notoriety for a backward moving sumo style, despite considerable bodily strength. Bushozan is not letting himself get slapped down, though, and shows the young rascal the way out.

Do you want another rare kimarite? Say no more! Here are Kizenryu (Kise) and Ichiki (Tamanoi). This was quite a prolonged bout, with lots of twists and turns, so it has been split over two videos. It starts with Ichiki with his back to us, and the taller Kizenryu facing us.

The kimarite is harimanage. And here it is from a better angle:

Kizenryu’s expression is worth a chuckle.

We move to the upper part of Makushita, and start with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, who has been practicing with Makuuchi wrestlers before the basho, eyeing the Makushita yusho, which he’ll need if he wants to return to Juryo by Hatsu.

Terunofuji is on the right, and his opponent is Tsurubayashi from Kise beya.

Off the Tachiai, Terunofuji gets pushed all the way to the Tawara. He manages to circle and turn Tsurubayashi back, and catch him in a double “kime” (crucifixion by armpits).

But seriously, I’m getting very tired of those dame-oshi. As soon as the gyoji goes “shobu-ari”, let go. It’s dangerous, and it’s unsportsmanlike. And I’m a fan, dammit.

Next up is his heya-mate and former tsukebito, Tomisakae, the back-flipping rikishi. He meets Shonannoum (Takadagawa beya, left). But he looks almost more banged up than Terunofuji.

No back-flipping or acrobatics today. Shonannoumi takes this one decisively.

Next up, Chiyonoumi (Kokonoe), who dropped from Juryo, wants to get back there as soon as possible. Opposite him is Seiro (Shikoroyama), recuperating from Aseptic Meningitis, and hoping to also regain his place in Juryo. Seiro is on the right.

Chiyonoumi is on the attack from the get-go, and Seiro circles and circles but can’t get away. But unlike you-know-who, Chiyonoumi grabs hold of Seiro as soon as he’s out to prevent him from falling. Yay sportsmanship! Go go Bonito man!

The Makushita matches end with yet another Kokonoe man, Chiyootori, who needs a kachi-koshi to regain his long lost sekitori status. But his way is blocked by Asagyokusei (Takasago), who lost it just now and also wants back. Chiyootori, if you can’t recognize him, is on the right.

Although Chiyootori starts with great vigor, Asagyokusei traps him in his arms and finishes off with a tsukiotoshi. Chiyootori has plenty of time to pick those 4 wins elsewhere, though.

BTW, if you noticed, he is wearing a black tabi sock. When rikishi have wounds or injury in their feet, they are allowed to wear tabi socks to cover it. In Makushita and below, the tabi is black. Sekitori are allowed to wear white ones.

Juryo

Almost all of today’s matches in Juryo were fun. We have newcomers, like the rikishi formerly known as Kototebakari (memorize “Kotoshoho”), and the much celebrated Hoshoryu, and the returning Aqua and Wakamotoharu. We have Kotonowaka, who is the bees knees if he’s healthy (he was kyujo from the latter part of the Jungyo). And there are veterans who are gaining back some of their power, like Ikioi and Kaisei.

Luckily, I found a YouTube Channel that aspires to bring Juryo digests every day. I’m not sure if it will stay around long, as Abema TV tend to be very impatient with the use of their materials, but for the time being, enjoy:

Hoshoryu is off to a good start! Akiseyama is very sticky, but his legs are his weakness and Hoshoryu made good use of that with this uchigake. He even got a Twitter compliment from his uncle.

Kotoshoho continues in his usual aggressive style, and beats veteran Gagamaru by yorikiri.

Now, Akua (Aqua) vs. the hapless Wakamotoharu. He is not going to be out-performed by his younger heya-mate when it comes to leg techniques. That kakenage deserves a replay.

Toyonoshima, Ikioi, Kyokutaisei and Kaisei seem to be genki. Kotonowaka seems to have come back from that kyujo with vigor. Takagenji, on the other hand, is very sloppy in that bout with Kiribayama.

And with this we complete our day’s report, tomorrow is also full of great matches!

Nagoya Storyline #3 – The Makushita Joi-Jin

Some readers are wondering – what is a “Joi-Jin”? In general, it’s the top 10 or so ranks of any lower division, and in the case of Makushita for Nagoya, it’s jam-packed with some rather potent rikishi. Some of them are veterans pushing hard to return to sekitori status, others are up and coming youngsters fighting their way up the banzuke. As we have said before on Tachiai, the top end of Makushita, especially during week 2, is where some of the most flat out, 110% sumo takes place. We expect Nagoya, given who is in the joi for Makushita, to be especially frantic.

It’s important to note that unlike the top 2 divisions, matches go by pairing rikishi who have the same record for all 7 of their matches. So after the first match, all of the 1-0 will fight other 1-0, and all of the 0-1 rikishi will pair off with other 0-1 fighters. This narrows down the 100-200 strong divisions into a workable yusho elimination bracket by match 6 or so in most cases. Because of the vigorous competition in the Makushita joi, many of its members count themselves blessed if they can simply exit the basho with kachi-koshi (4 wins). Lets take a look at who is in the joi this time.

EastRankWest
SeiroMs1Irodori
DaiseidoMs2Hoshoryu
TamakiMs3Churanoumi
ChiyootoriMs4Kaisho
FujiazumaMs5Wakamotoharu
ChiyonokuniMs6Naya
AkuaMs7Tsukahara
KototebakariMs8Nishikifuji
BushozanMs9Chiyosakae
HakuyozanMs10Nogami

There are quite a few notables here

Seiro – Long time Juryo mainstay Seiro finds himself the top man in Makushita after a 7-8 make-koshi at Juryo 14. A simply 4 wins will put him back in a kesho-mawashi for September.
Irodori – A 6-9 in his Juryo debut in May put him back in Makushita, like Seiro, he needs both a kachi-koshi and some poor performance at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke to return.
Daiseido – After finishing 3-12 at Osaka, he dripped out of Juryo far enough down into Makushita that 5-2 finish at Natsu could take him no higher than Makushita 2.
Hoshoryu – Some readers get frustrated when we mention this, but this fellow is in fact former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew. He has been plugging away with excellent speed / agility sumo, and he’s on the cusp now of a promotable rank. This guy, if he can stay healthy, is likely a future star.
Churanoumi – Former Nihon University athlete, he’s won 3 yusho (including a 7-0 Makushita yusho in Osaka) and already been in Juryo twice.
Chiyootori – Long-serving Maegashira, he has been plagued by injuries and is now fighting to try to return to the salaried ranks. At one point in 2018, he was ranked in Sandanme, but has been fighting back.
Wakamotoharu – After a Makushita yusho in January, and a 5-10 debut as a sekitori in Osaka, this Onami brother is outside the range to likely be promoted with a simple kachi-koshi, he’s going to have to run up the score.
Chiyonokuni – Did you wonder where Makuuchi mainstay Chiyonokuni ended up after he brutally injured his knee? Right here, in the briar patch. A healthy Chiyonokuni can take these guys to the cleaners, but I am going to guess he is lucky to be at 75%. It could get ugly.
Naya – Another young, up and coming rikishi from a sumo family, he has been on a slower upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu, but his sumo is coming to gether very well. He’s not at a promotable rank unless something crazy happens, but his last 2 tournaments featured 6-1 records.
Akua – I have to admit, I really like Akua’s sumo. I want to see him march ahead on the banzuke, but his accumulated injuries seem to have capped his performance.
Kototebakari – Another young man on a rocket ride up the banzuke, this 19 year old rikishi from Chiba has only had one make-koshi in his professional sumo career.

As you can see, even looking into a handful of these rikishi, there is a lot of talent, and a lot of drive to win. It’s going to be tough staying up to watch the top Makushita matchs, but I suspect for Nagoya, there may be a lot of great sumo action to follow from this group.

Lower divisions – Days 13 and 14

Hey, Hoshoryu, Asashoryu called and asked for his game face to be returned

Hey, I owe you readers two days of randomly picked lower division bouts!

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