Lower Division Yusho Aki 2022

We’ve still got one undecided lower-division yusho race. But since most of them are already in the books, I wanted to give you all an update.


If you despair of the parity in Makuuchi, you may not want to see Juryo. Last night, Tochimusashi clinched the yusho when Hokuseiho lost to Kotokuzan — even though he lost his own bout to Atamifuji. Hokuseiho had been leading the yusho race into Week 2 until he lost three bouts in a row, falling to Kitanowaka, Kagayaki, and Tohakuryu. Tochimusashi’s win comes in his first tournament in the division, a feat Tomokaze accomplished back in Kyushu 2018.


Pardon me while I get a little teary-eyed, remembering Tomokaze’s charge up the banzuke, devastating knee-injury, and struggles to make it back to sekitori status. Sadly, he closed out Aki 2-5 from within the Makushita promotion zone. He’ll need to look to 2023.

With the news of Jokoryu’s retirement this week, we get another reminder of how grueling this climb is. Jokoryu began his career with a memorable, pace-setting string of white stars (27 w/ 3 division titles + one playoff loss). And then when Enho made his run, Jokoryu stopped him at 21 wins. Bringing us back full circle, today’s yusho hopeful, Hokuseiho, had his eyes on the streak to start his career but lost his first bouts after returning from Covid kyujo.


In the biggest upset of the tournament, Asanoyama did not win the Makushita title. As Leonid covered, the Coyote got caught out by a wily Roadrunner who goes by the shikona, Yuma. Instead, Daiseiryu won, using much the same technique as Asanoyama. I think Yuma just had designs on taking Daiseiryu on head-on, trying for one pulldown — not as intimidated by the journeyman as he was by the former Ozeki. If he’d used his roadrunner tactic, he might have won the yusho.

I am also encouraged by Setonoumi’s strong performance. We’ve seen him come back from serious injury and win lower division yusho. Now, he’s gone 6-1 from his best rank ever at Makushita 56, opposite Asonoyama (not to be confused with Asanoyama, the former Ozeki). He’ll be thrown into the middle of the division in Kyushu so it will be exciting to continue to watch him.


Oshoumi blitzed poor Wakanosho at the snap, capping off his zensho-yusho in Sandanme. That string of wins included bouts against Hakuho recruit Ishii and former Jonokuchi title winner and Oshiogawa recruit, Kazekeno. Kototebakari’s hopes were dashed in an earlier loss to Shosei, who is competing in Makushita. Kototebakari will fight for a 6th win tonight. While he’s likely earned his promotion to Makushita, that 6th win will lock it in and probably a 20-rank difference when the Kyushu banzuke comes out.


The Jonidan title comes down to a senshuraku playoff between Takahashi and Chiyodaigo. I will post an update after that is decided. Takahashi won the Jonokuchi yusho race back in Nagoya, defeating Kazuto in the playoff. Chiyodaigo is a journeyman whose peak rank was in Makushita, so clearly no slouch but he’s had several non-Covid kyujo lately, along with the Kasugano-beya Covid kyujo. Given the way he knocked out Toshunryu, I’d say this kid wants it. Those were some haymakers. They say hatakikomi but that’s one of the most fierce hatakikomi I can remember.


In a surprise to absolutely no one, Miyagino-oyakata’s mammoth-thighed recruit, Otani, obliterated all comers in the lowest division to claim the yusho. His dame-oshi (shoves “after the bell,” so-to-speak) will hurt his chances at growing a significant fanbase. Aoiyama comes to mind as someone who fans dislike because of this, while Kaisei gets plaudits for helping his opponents avoid falls. ダメ, pronounced “DAH-MEH,” (not like the title as in, Dame Judi Dench), is a Japanese admonishment which basically translates as, “don’t!” and oshi is from “push,” as in the kimarite oshidashi. If you’ve already won the bout, you’re not supposed to shove your opponent off the dohyo.

Hopefully our regular Jonokuchi division coverage will make its return in Kyushu, but there’s a rather small recruiting class again which might make for another dud of a race. I may double-up by following the Jonidan (or Juryo?) race, as well. But we’ll see.

Nagoya 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 7

Who said that winning anything would be easy in this tournament? Well, it sure looked like it for about two weeks in the bottom division. A win for Takahashi here would have clinched the Jonokuchi division yusho. Kazuto would not go quietly into that good night. After the tachiai, Kazuto buried the crown of his head into Takahashi’s chin. This disrupts Takahashi’s game plan, lifting his upper body.

Kazuto tried to get some forward momentum going but when Plan A failed, he moved to Plan B and tried a quick slap-down… but missed. Plan C? RUN! Kazuto backed away, cycling around the dohyo with Takahashi in hot pursuit. Seeing no options, Kazuto planted at the tawara and made a last ditch effort, collecting it all to launch forward into Takahashi. What do you know, it worked! He corralled Takahashi squarely and drove through the dohyo, sending Takahashi to his first loss. This win sealed a ticket for a rematch in a prime time yusho playoff on senshuraku.

The Jonidan yusho was claimed by Hitoshi. That’s his second yusho in Jonidan. He won last year but after several tournaments kyujo, re-entered Jonokuchi last tournament. He featured in the opening days of the yusho race in May before losing to Yamato and Kazekeno, both of whom eventually fought in that play-off, Kazekeno claiming the title.

Speaking of Kazekeno, he finished with a strong sixth win. His only loss was to Miyagino prospect Ishii. This is another strong group of competitors who will find themselves in Sandanme in September. Unfortunately, Yamato won’t be able to join them yet because he got caught up in Musashigawa’s covid kyujo earlier in the tournament, and will finish with a 2-2-3 make-koshi including a loss to veteran Tochihayate. It will be very interesting to see where he ends up on that banzuke.

Moving up to Sandanme, Asanoyama claimed the yusho there. But, as Leonid covered, the Makushita yusho was also a bit of a surprise with Yoshii’s close win over Kinbozan. Lastly, Ryuden claimed the Juryo title with his win over Myogiryu last night.

Nagoya 2022: Jonokuchi Match Day 6

A quick one today.

Undefeated Takahashi faced 5-1 Noguchi and completely outclassed the youngster. Takahashi is 6-0 and will face Kazuto tonight in tonight’s opening bout and what should be more of a challenge. If Takahashi wins, he will claim the yusho outright. If not, Kazuto will have a shot to snatch the title in a senshuraku playoff. Sadly, Jokoki gets robbed of his opportunity due to Musashigawa’s Covid kyujo. Covid may end up being the biggest risk here in Takahashi’s otherwise direct run to the yusho.

Up in Jonidan, Hitoshi defeated Aron with similar ease and likewise moves to 6-0. Rinko had a bit more of a challenge with Tanji but also won a one-sided bout. The excitement here is that this sets up a battle between Hitoshi and Rinko for the Jonidan title tonight. Both men will climb into Sandanme in September where they will face more stiffer competition.

Speaking of Sandanme, Asanoyama will face Daiseizan with an opportunity to take the yusho outright tonight if Shinohara falls to Hanafusa. If Shinohara wins, the winner of the Asanoyama/Daiseizan bout will fight Shinohara in a playoff on senshuraku. Lastly, as Leonid has mentioned, Yoshii will face Kinbozan for the Makushita title tonight. So lots at stake, that’s for sure!


Natsu 2022: Jonokuchi Playoff!


Before the Emperor’s Cup would end up falling to whomever was too slow to get out of the way, four young lads mounted the dohyo in an exciting playoff for the Jonokuchi title. It must be quite the change in atmosphere for the youngsters who fought in relative silence over the past fortnight. Now they get to come on after the conclusion of the Juryo action to a packed, relatively raucous, arena.

You may ask, why do they do these playoffs after the conclusion of Juryo and before the Makuuchi dohyo-iri? Well, sometimes there’s also a Juryo Playoff, like today. To allow for that, they conduct all of the lower division playoffs, and the yusho presentation ceremony, before the top division action starts. This way if there’s a makuuchi playoff, they can just get right to it. And if there’s not a Makuuchi playoff, well, the party’s over and everyone goes outside to line up for the parade. (It’s nice to have those back.)

Jonokuchi Playoff

Back to the Jonokuchi contest. Today we’ve got Kazekeno (the favorite), Yamato (the leg puller), Tanji (the pup), and Arise (the other guy). When the four walked out, they drew lots to determine who faced whom. Kazekeno drew Tanji for the first bout and Yamato paired off with Arise.

Jonokuchi Semi-finals

In Bout #1, Kazekeno took on Tanji. I didn’t realize until now that Tanji is only 15. When I was 15 I was giggling to Beavis and Butthead, playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and occasionally braving the Carolina sunshine to play roller hockey. Instead, Tanji has set out on a very interesting career path. Today, that path intersected with Oshiogawa-beya’s recruit from Chuo University. Kazekeno came out and hit the youngster so hard, the whole crowd gasped. “Finish Him.” While Tanji staggered and tried to regain his balance, Kazekeno hit him again, putting Tanji on his ass.

I’m confident that we will see the youngster make considerable progress. At 17, while I would have been working up the courage to ask a girl to prom, this kid will be battling to reach sekitori. When he’s 22, I’m calling sanyaku for this kid. Mark my words.

In Bout #2, Yamato wrapped up Arise’s leg and forced the poor kid to bunny hop around the ring before dumping him in the corner. I guess Arise doesn’t read Tachiai because the leg grab is kind of Yamato’s thing. While it works, keep doing it. Am I right? Yamato’s victory set up a rematch final between Yamato and Kazekeno.

Jonokuchi Final

One way to defeat someone who’s going to grab your leg or trip you is to never give them the chance. Come out hot and hit ’em hard, just like with Tanji. Yamato looked a bit “over-genki” and came off the line early. Matta. Regular readers of Tachiai would know this is when my Spider-sense kicks in, looks like a henka is incoming.

And what do you know, Yamato shifts to the left at the tachiai! But Kazekeno must have known what was up because he didn’t plow forward. Instead, he waited and played it conservative and patient. He fended off a few of Yamato’s attempts at a leg grab and with the last one, struck down with just enough speed and force to send Yamato tumbling.

Party at Oshiogawa-beya tonight!

Jonidan Playoff Extra

But first, we’ve got a little more sumo. I bring you, the Jonidan yusho playoff.

It’s nice to see when a wrestler prepares for a bout. Hanafusa had a plan and put it into action immediately. He locked in quickly on Kototebakari’s right arm and rotated while seeking a belt grip with his own right arm to execute a throw. Kototebakari struggled to fight him off while maintaining his balance in this death spin. As Kototebakari approached the tawara, Hanafusa abandoned the attempted belt grab and brought his hand down on his opponent’s shoulder, attempting a katasukashi pulldown. But Kototebakari resisted, maintained his balance, wrapped up Hanafusa’s shoulder and threw him out of the ring while he jumped out to the side. Kototebakari maintained one foot alive in the ring just long enough to claim the win. What a thrilling bout!


Well, that’s the end of my Jonokuchi coverage, and the bonus Jonidan footage. Above is a picture of all of the lower division yusho winners. Left to right we’ve got Nishikifuji (Juryo), Oshoma (Makushita), Kamitani (Sandanme), Kototebakari (Jonidan), and Kazekeno (Jonokuchi). We look forward to bringing you more action from the lower divisions in July, as well as news on new recruits in the interim.