Jonokuchi Match Day 6

At the beginning of Match Day 6, there were two undefeated Jonokuchi leaders. Since Shunrai was a new recruit and lower on the banzuke than Mogamizakura, and they needed Mogamizakura to face the lowest-ranked Jonidan leader, the Kyokai did not pit Shunrai and Mogamizakura against each other. Instead, Shunrai faced 4-1 Takashoki. Shunrai quickly wrapped up Takashoki at the tachiai; Takashoki’s arms flailing like a desperate, angry kraken. Shunrai plowed forward and forced the beast over the edge. Arrr…matey…ye’ stand at 6-0.

Mogamizakura was paired with the lowest-ranked undefeated Jonidan wrestler, Tanimoto. Sadly, there will be no yusho celebration at Shikihide beya. Tanimoto shifted left at the rather slow tachiai, and then drove forward to usher Mogamizakura safely over the tawara.

So, where do things in Jonokuchi stand? Basically, it’s Shunrai’s title to lose. If he wins tomorrow, he will win the yusho. I believe he will face the lowest undefeated Jonidan wrestler, Tanimoto. If he loses, senshuraku will have a barnyard brawl with the remaining 6-1 contenders. That field will be whittled down from the current 5-1 group as several go head-to-head. That 5-1 group is Mogamizakura, Kiryuko, Mukainakano and Abe.

I’ve got the video of Kiryuko’s exciting and hard-fought win over Miyagi and an extra, bonus bout of Chiyofuku versus Byakuen. Miyagi and Kiryuko both fought very hard to stay in this title chase. Miyagi clung to the tawara as long as he could but Kiryuko was too powerful and forced both to tumble hard over the edge. The ending of the bout, we also see Kiryuko’s deep bow as he headed down the hanamichi.

As for Byakuen, he will face serious challenges in Jonidan if he happens to get kachi-koshi. But the kid has heart so it’s good to see him win. Just before their bout, the video pans over to see Mukainakano, one of the chase group, come in and take a seat. The video starts a bit earlier than I usually crop the videos, I wanted to catch the early few moments of the day and the announcer stating the beginning of Jonokuchi.

*Note: I am a bit puzzled by the pairing off of Asasorai and Abe. Rather than having both Jonokuchi wrestlers face each other, the schedulers have put both against Jonidan competition. It doesn’t make sense as an “exchange” bout, like what we see up in Juryo and Makuuchi where a loser from the higher division faces demotion and a winner from the lower division can earn promotion. In each case, all of these guys are moving up the banzuke. If Asasorai and Abe faced each other, it would guarantee one 4-1 wrestler would fall off the pace.*

Speaking of Jonidan

The Jonokuchi champion from Natsu, Fujiseiun, is in the lead for the Jonidan yusho. Here’s his quick win against Higanzan. Fujiseiun should be paired against Osanai while we saw that the third wrestler, Tanimoto, would face Shunrai. If Shunrai wins, the yusho is his and the Jonidan winner of Fujiseiun/Osanai will win that yusho. However, if Shunrai loses, we get the big playoff down there and then Tanimoto would face Fujiseiun/Osanai. As a reminder, the playoffs would take place on senshuraku, if needed.

The next report will be on Friday, at the close of Match Day 7, and we’ll see then if we’ll have a playoff. Right now, though, it looks like Shunrai has this one in the bag.

Jonokuchi Match Day 4

I’m mixing things up today because I want to start with a treat. The first match of nakabi (Day 8, the middle day) was a great, wild one featuring Byakuen vs Daitensho. This bout was not one of consequence in the yusho race but it speaks to one of the great things about Jonokuchi. If you’d listened to our recent podcast, you’ve heard Josh talk about three qualities of sumo wrestlers, their heart, technique, and the body. Down here, there are often guys with lots of heart but little in the way of technique and they’ve not bulked up yet. Byakuen has a lot of heart and that’s on display in this fight. I hope you enjoy.

The Yusho Race

Heading into Match Day four, there’s an odd number of leaders with 3-0 records. As he’s the lowest ranked leader on the banzuke, Kiryuko gets a bit of torikumi luck with a match up against 2-1 Arikawa. It’s the second bout in the video. Kiryuko dominates.

Next up, Taniguchi faced Mogamizakura. Both of these guys have sumo bodies but Mogamizakura powered through Taniguchi for a yorikiri win. Lastly, we head back a night to Totsuka native Abe against Shunrai. After a solid tachiai and a tussle for belt grips, Shunrai came out on top, quickly driving through Abe and sending him over the bales.

Still undefeated and kachi-koshi:

  • Kiryuko
  • Shunrai
  • Mogamizakura

These three wrestlers have punched their tickets to Jonidan. Now, though, the race gets complicated. With two brothers who can only fight in a playoff, the wrestlers with one loss are back in the picture. Starting at the top of the banzuke,

  • Matsugi
  • Taniguchi
  • Abe
  • Mihonoumi
  • Mukainakano
  • Miyagi
  • Tamatensho

Given Kiryuko’s bout against a 2-1 opponent today, I would not be surprised if he faces Mogamizakura and then Shunrai could face Tamatensho or Miyagi. The Shunrai/Miyagi bout could derail the playoff between brothers.

At the other end of the yusho chase, Kato, Higohikari, and Shonanzakura are make-koshi and will likely remain in Jonokuchi in September. Kato had his first tournament in May where he racked up 1 win against Sano, who is kyujo this tournament. Frankly, Shonanzakura demonstrated more heart and technique in his bout against Kyonosato than we have seen yet from Kato. I would not be surprised if the two are paired off tomorrow. This bout would present the highest potential for Shonanzakura to end his streak and I wonder if the days of 70, 80, 90, 100 bout losing streaks are over.

Jonokuchi Match Day 3

There are five bouts of 2-0 wrestlers on this Match Day:

  1. Kiryuko vs Mukainakano
  2. Asasorai vs Taniguchi
  3. Mogamizakura vs Asahimaru
  4. Shunrai vs Mihonoumi
  5. Abe vs Kokuryunami

Today, I wanted to give y’all more of a sense of the atmosphere for the Jonokuchi bouts. Rather than crop out everything this time, I start each clip with the yobidashi’s sing-song introduction of the wrestlers and I ended it with the announcer’s declaration of the victor’s name and kimarite. Each bout is about two minutes so all Jonokuchi bouts take about 20 minutes total. Well, that’s unless it’s today’s high-stakes Nobehara-Miyagi bout with 4 matta AND a mono-ii. I’m only being half-facetious there about the “high stakes” since to have any hope of staying in the yusho race both really wanted to win. But this is Jonokuchi, guys. Get ‘er going.

The Bouts

Kiryuko wrapped up Mukainakano’s mawashi pretty quickly after the tachiai and used his low center of gravity to drive through his opponent. Mukainakano tried to pivot at the edge but he needs to work on that inasu. I also appreciate a Homosho-esque rei.

Asasorai is a good grappler for a smaller opponent but geez does he pay for his persistance. Stay with this one to the end. This is one heck of a sukuinage slam. Even my back hurts. He needs to work on timing those trip attempts a bit better and it was great to see him swing the larger Taniguchi around the ring. But as he tired and got winded, Taniguchi seemed to decide he’d had enough scrappiness.

Mogamizakura is a pretty big guy, from the Kagayaki mold. He struggled a bit to finish off Asahimaru but he was in no real danger. Mihonoumi met Shunrai head on with a fierce tachiai but couldn’t follow-up with a concerted attack. Shunrai wrapped him up around the upper body and moved him back and out quickly. Similarly, Abe made fairly quick work of Kokuryunami.

Looking Ahead

The brothers will only face each other if there’s a playoff. I get the sense that both are head-and-shoulders above the skill of Mogamizakura, Tanuguchi, and Abe. It’s possible that they could be the only wrestlers at 4-0 so I would think at that point we’d see them pair back up with some one-loss opponents and possibly face a Jonidan opponent.

Jonokuchi Match Day One, Nagoya 2021

Day 1 began with Shonanzakura facing Tatsunami’s recruit, Byakuen. It’s amusing to see a bit of nerves from young Byakuen pre-tachiai. Standing 171cm and weighing in at 67kg, Byakuen is 9cm shorter and nearly 19kg (~40 lbs) lighter than the more experienced Shonanzakura. Shonanzakura actually gets the jump on his opponent. But despite the physical disadvantage and complete lack of timing, Byakuen shot out like a bullet and blasted Mr. Futility off the dohyo.

My apologies while I work on the logistics here. My videos of the next bouts were terrible, which is unfortunate because the next couple of bouts featured a few nice throws. I will work out the glitches. Shunrai easily won his first bout against Tamatensho with a sukuinage. He drove Tamatensho back to the tawara while seeking a belt grip with his right hand. But when Tamatensho’s foot reached the bales, Shunrai quickly twisted him down from the left. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Sakamoto brothers rise up the banzuke, and which one makes it further.

Hitoshi followed that up with a kakenage, tripping up Nobehara. This was a great bout with both rikishi of similar, solid build. Hitoshi was “cornered” at the bales but twisted to throw Nobehara. I think it was actually Nobehara who initiated the “kake” but Hitoshi used the leverage to push Nobehara over. Kyonosato put in a valiant effort but Arikawa escorted the Isenoumi-beya taste tester out of the ring for the yorikiri win.

This victory started an Eastern rout as the next five gunbai also pointed stage left. Fujimusashi, Mihonoumi, Abe, Asasorai, and Kirinohana all claimed victory. The best of these bouts was Asasorai’s uwatedashinage win over Takashoki. Kirinohana caught out Higohikari’s henka attempt, easily. I anticipate a poor showing from Higohikari during this tournament, and possibly kyujo as he did not seem close to 100%. Lastly, Sawanofuji and Shiraishizakura put together a great bout with Sawanofuji winning with a kotenage.

Part 2

Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch the second half of the action which occurred tonight, July 4. I’d hoped to get back earlier from the cookout…but it was a good cookout. If I find any footage, I’ll post it. Kiryuko replicated his brother’s success by defeating Daitensho.

Veteran Kokuryunami was able to get to rookie Daitenshin’s mawashi and defeated him with a sukuinage. In the headline bout, Mukainakano defeated Miyagi by tsukitaoshi and Takatairiku followed that up with another tsukitaoshi against Kato. Tamanotora and Kyokutaiga defeated fellow classmates, Yoshinofuji and Takabaho, respectively. Taniguchi and Mogamizakura bested their veteran opponents, Sawaisamu and Moriurara. Lastly, Asahimaru beat Matsugi.

Looking Ahead

The “Winners bracket” after Day 1 is:

  1. Byakuen
  2. Kiryuko
  3. Shunrai
  4. Mukainakano
  5. Hitoshi
  6. Kokuryunami
  7. Arikawa
  8. Fujimusashi
  9. Takatairiku
  10. Mihonoumi
  11. Tamanotora
  12. Abe
  13. Kyokutaiga
  14. Asasorai
  15. Taniguchi
  16. Kirinohana
  17. Mogamizakura
  18. Sawanofuji
  19. Asahimaru

The first half of Match Day 2 will actually offer the bulk of the yusho race bouts. Eight bouts, involving 15 of these men will happen tonight. First up, young Byakuen will be thrown into the fire now. If his timing was off against Shonanzakura, he may want to be better prepared for Mukainakano. Next, Kiryuko will fight Hitoshi. Shunrai will likely face Arikawa tomorrow, but that’s it for the “rookie” bouts tonight.

The other winner bracket bouts are:

  • Fujimusashi vs Kokuryunami
  • Abe vs Tamanotora
  • Asasorai vs Kyokutaiga
  • Kirinohana vs Taniguchi
  • Mogaizakura vs Sawanofuji
  • Asahimaru vs (Jonidan) Kirimaru

Along with the likely Shunrai/Arikawa bout, tomorrow’s schedule will likely put Takakairiku against Mihonoumi. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t see the second day matches I can’t really pick a complete list of favorites but I must say Shunrai and Hitoshi definitely impressed me during the Day 1 action. Asasorai also had a great throw but I can’t see him being competitive against some of the top recruits but it should certainly be interesting.