Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 2

If eyes could kill…

Day two, and we had a lot of big names in the lower divisions. Let’s work our way from the bottom.

Jonokuchi

We would be remiss, of course, if we didn’t share Hattorizakura’s first bout with you. In 4k. Yes. Aliens researching Earth culture 1000 years from now will find footage of Hattorizakura matches in 4k.

Our lad is on the East, right, facing Kotoyamato from Sadogatake beya on the left.

The yobidashi is… fitting. But why would Kotoyamato be using such a fierce nodowa against Hattorizakura?

Jonidan

The following bout is interesting, not so much because of its sumo content, but because of Roman’s hairdo. Roman is a young rikishi, recruited in May 2018, who suffered injury in Haru 2019, and was kyujo for the entire Natsu. He was then rumored to have retired, because he was seen with a crew cut, also, not in the same city as his heya.

Then, all of a sudden, here he is, back on the dohyo, taped massively like any rikishi coming back from kyujo. I would have written this all down as some silly Internet rumor. Only… the haircut part seems to have been true. That’s not rikishi hairdo. There have been some strange goings-on at Tatsunami beya – Hitenryu, who was supposed to have started working as a Wakamonogashira (was listed as such in Wikipedia) but hasn’t, their latest recruit, who resigned with a broken arm, and this strange thing with Roman’s hair.

Roman on the left faces Mogaminishiki from Kise beya on the right.

For someone just back from injury and who knows what else, he is pretty genki.

Sandanme

Our journey into Sandanme starts with Tachiai’s favorite, Wakaichiro, who faced Kotootomo from Sadogatake beya for his first match. Wakaichiro is on the East, right, and Kotootomo attacks from the left.

Very good deashi on Wakaichiro’s part, for a straight up oshidashi. It was Wakaichiro’s birthday yesterday. It’s good to start another year in one’s life on the right foot!

Next up I have Narutaki, one of my Jungyo favorites, not least because of his huge big brother Kyonosato. Narutaki himself is not so huge, and looks especially small in this match, in which he faces Hokutoo, the 196cm wrestler from Hakkaku beya. Narutaki attacks from the right, but I’m sure you can see that for yourselves.

Very convincing sumo! Hit-and-shift, then push for an oshidashi.

Next up is Daitenma. I couldn’t find any bouts of his last basho, so I’m excited to find one now. He is Azumazeki’s beya recently recruited Mongolian. This is only his fourth ranked basho, and he had solid 5-2 in each of his previous ones. He is also as thin and gangly as you’d expect a young Mongolian with a bright future to be… Here he is on the East (right), facing Nakao from Onoe beya.

It’s nice to see this kind of yotsu battle in Sandanme. If he manages to put on some serious weight, the 187cm Mongolian will get far.

We reach the top of the Sandanme division with the representative of the USA, Musashikuni. He faces Asakishin from Takasago beya who is attacking from the left.

Ah… well. I’d like to see him start low and bend his knees.

Makushita

We’re up to the next division, and start straight off with the former Ozeki Terunofuj, facing Aoi from Shikoroyama beya. Although Aoi is about the same age as Terunofuji, he is just a Sandanme-Makushita regular. We are informed that in June, Terunofuji started practicing moshi-ai for the first time since his dropped. So we expect him to be less rusty than the previous two basho. Let’s take a look. Teru on the left, Aoi on the right.

The former Ozeki was aiming straight for that shoulder.

One thing to note is the yobidashi who calls Terunofuji’s name. That’s Yobidashi Teruya from his own heya. The two (together with Shunba) transferred from Magaki beya to Isegahama and are very close friends. Not sure Teruya ever expected to call his friend’s name on his shift.

Next up, we have Shiraishi, who won the Sandanme yusho after having landed straight in that division (Sandanme-tsukedashi). Shiraishi on the left faces Kotorikisen from Sadogatake on the right.

Shiraishi seems to continue just where he left off in Natsu. I wouldn’t be surprised if they match him with Terunofuji next.

Kyokusoten is one of my old favorites, though he is not one of the strongest rikishi around, especially not for a Mongolian. He’s just a nice guy, who is sought after as a tsukebito by other Mongolians. Currently he is serving under Kakuryu. Here he is facing Hokaho, from Miyagino beya. What was Miyagino oyakata thinking when he named him that? Anyway, Hokaho on the left, Kyokusoten on the right.

Hokaho seems to be the stronger of the two. Next time, Kyokusoten!

We continue on the theme of Mongolians in Makushita. Let’s take a look at Roga, Futagoyama’s star. He is facing Keitenkai from Onomatsu beya on the left.

Another Mongolian down. Roga is still lacking in experience.

Naya, the scion of Taiho, has been showing a lot of improvement lately and was expected to, maybe, surpass his rival, Hoshoryu, this time around. Here he faces a serious obstacle in the form of Akua from Tatsunami beya, who had a couple of stints in Juryo. But I think Naya wasn’t expecting the bout between them to develop as it eventually did. Akua on the left, Naya on the right:

Naya thought this was a matta. He looks at the shimpan, he looks at the gyoji, but to no avail. At least he is not standing at the base of the dohyo trying to monoii the decision. Hard life lesson: if the ref didn’t call it, it’s not a matta. No matter if your hand didn’t touch the ground.

But anyway, ouch.

The last bout in Makushita today was between Hoshoryu and Irodori. Again, there were many expectations of this bout. Irodori (right) has some sekitori experience. But Hoshoryu (left) is not letting that intimidate him. Quite the contrary. The bout starts with a long stare-down, and Irodori eventually gives in. Then there’s a matta, but Hoshoryu is unfazed.

When they get down to the bout itself, it’s all too easy. The psychological warfare was clearly favoring the young Mongolian.

Juryo

I’m not going to share the bout which may or may not have been Aminishiki’s last. Instead, let us concentrate on the newcomers to Juryo. Two of them who lost the previous day are facing each other today. Kotonowaka on the left vs. Kizakiumi on the right:

Kotonowaka The Second doesn’t seem to find his Juryo legs yet. It’s his second loss, to exactly those people he should beat to avoid the return to Makushita.

The third Juryo newcomer is Ichiyamamoto, and he actually seems to feel right at home in Juryo. Ichiyamamoto on the left faces Akiseyama on the right.

Wait a minute… why does this seem familiar? Hey, Ichiyamamoto, Abi called and asked for his Sumo back. Come to think of it, he really needs it back quickly.

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.

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.

Low Division bouts – Day 3

Kotokamatani wearing an oicho-mage for his Juryo visit today

Here are a few bouts I collected for day 3.

Down in Jonokuchi, Toma, Hakuho’s gigantic uchi-deshi, had his second bout for this basho, vs. Ito, and his first monoii.

Ow, ow, ow. Poor Ito. He looks completely out of it. Well, 206kg falling on top of you is no small matter (see what I did there?). He is lucky the shimpan did not decide on a torinaoshi.

First loss for Toma, then.

Edit: This bout from the TV angle. The Isamiashi is much clearer:

Edit: I found Kitanowaka’s bout vs. Tokisakae – here it is:

Mmm. That man belongs at least in Sandanme at the moment, if not Makushita.

The rest of the videos I found are from Makushita. Let’s start with Tomisakae, who faces Tanabe.

Yeah, the video doesn’t include the tachiai. But Tomisakae, Isegahama’s back-flipping rikishi, seems to be serious this basho.

The famous Naya vs. Koba:

This bout reminds me of a Takakeisho bout. Could it be he is influencing his tsukebito already? Naya does well to maintain his balance as Koba tries to dispatch him near the edge there, and then actually wins by pulling wildly – which will not always work for him.

The match between Hoshoryu and Jokoryu today was all over the Japanese press. “Hoshoryu’s first bout with a former san-yaku wrestler”, the titles shouted. Let’s see how this went, in NattoSumo’s excellent clip:

Hoshoryu said, in an interview after this bout: “I guessed that he will go for a slap, and slap he did. By the time I had reacted he already had his arms well inside. I am glad I was still able to push forward”.

Yes, it wasn’t a bout Hoshoryu should be too proud of. His Tachiai was, indeed, not quite fast enough for a good opponent.

As for that monoii – NattoSumo says he doesn’t understand exactly what happened. Well, the sportscaster is saying “It seems Hoshoryu’s leg was out first… but by then, Jokoryu was already out of balance. The commentator agrees: “He had no body” (that’s like saying his body was dead). But says the word “bimyo” – which means this is not clear-cut. The kyogi (discussion of a monoii) proceeds, and Onomatsu oyakata announces – surprisingly clearly – that they were discussing the leg, but decided with the judge. So it seems that they indeed judged Jokoryu’s body to be dead.

Hoshoryu is 2-0, and fans expect him to be matched next with Takanofuji (the former Takayoshitoshi, you know), who is also 2-0 and looking very aggressive.

Ichiyamamoto vs. Fujiazuma:

Compared to all the above drops and falls, this bout looks positively serene.

We venture into Juryo, where Kotokamatani is visiting to balance the odd number of sekitori in this basho. For this reason, he gets a fine-looking oicho-mage. He goes against our friend Akiseyama:

Akiseyama uses every bit of his experience, but Kotokamatani plants his head and exhibits a lot of patience. He is rewarded by becoming todays blob on the NSK’s “Fan-chosen Fighting Spirit Rikishi” list (Makushita rikishi don’t have a photo in the NSK app, so they are shown as a rikishi-shaped blob if they get elected for that list).

Let’s finish with Aminishiki, who is facing Irodori, the newbie. Aminishiki tends to win first encounters:

And indeed he does, in his usual style. Your opponent gets too enthusiastic about his tsuppari? Move a little sideways and let him enjoy the view from below the dohyo.