As hopeless sumo fans, the crew at Tachiai are following many fine rikishi who are fighting their way through he lower divisions (yes, more than just Wakaichiro!). Out of more than a dozen “ones to watch”, only a handful are in action on day 1. Some notable matches
Wakamotoharu vs. Gokushindo – Another of the Waka* brothers takes on Gokushindo, as he battles to regain Sekitori status. This has the potential to be a real firecracker of a match.
Midorifuji vs. Sakigake – Midorifuji has certainly hit the Makushita “wall” and has found the competition thick and fierce. Today he takes on former Juryo man Sakigake.
Naya vs. Aomihama – Taiho’s grandson returns to Makushita, at the very last slot of the division. This time we look to see if he can hit and hold this highly competitive division. He faces off against veteran Aomihama, who suffered a disappointing 1-6 tournament in November.
Torakio vs. Taichiyama – Torakio is still working hard to escape Sandanme, and he starts Hatsu near his all time high rank of Sandanme 28. He seems to be an even match for Taichiyama, who is still struggling to recover from injuries.
Hattorizakura vs. Denpoya – In spite of his cringe worthy career record of 2-130 (no, not a typo), people love this skinny little guy, and always hope he can find enough genki to win something. His opponent, Denpoya, who is in his first tournament as a professional rikishi, is likely happy to have a nearly assured win for his first match as a pro.
Some notables that are not on the day 1 fight card: Kenho, Musashikuni, Ura, Shoji Hoshoryu and Akua.
A reminder that NHK World Japan will have the final hour of the top division live over their streaming service overnight US time. Work has it that Gunning will be doing the color commentary, and it’s never dull with him in the booth.