Lower Division Yusho Roundup

Jonokuchi

In the end, the Jonokuchi title came down to one bout: undefeated Inoue against Tsukubayama, a Jonidan-ranked wrestler with one-loss. I was a bit puzzled by the pairing, frankly. Inoue had faced both Chiyoshishi and Goseiryu on his path to the yusho, so I had assumed he would face Raiho. Instead, Inoue faced Tsukubayama, a young man from…you guessed it…Tsukuba city in Ibaraki prefecture. He’s another young’un who started his sumo career last summer and has remained in Jonidan but at Jonidan 91, even a 6th win would likely not be enough to secure a promotion to Sandanme.

Inoue pressed forward and defeated Tsukubayama, without breaking a sweat. Tsukabayama half-heartedly tried a henka, shifting to his right at the tachiai. Inoue’s coming off an injury, so he’s not going to be charging headlong into the crowd. Inoue just pivoted left and bulled forward, shoving Tsukubayama out. Congratulations, Inoue, on the yusho!

Chiyoshishi tossed Takabaho for a dominant ouchie-ta-ouchie win. And lastly, Raiho defeated Goseiryu. Raiho latched on quickly to Goseiryu’s belt with his left-hand, and then came down hard with his right, throwing Goseiryu to the ground.

Jonidan

The Jonidan yusho race came down to three wrestlers with 6 wins; Chiyoyamato, Yurikisho, and Kaiho. Higher-ranked Kaiho was paired against Sandanme yusho contender, Taiyo. Chiyoyamato faced Yurikisho in the bout from the tweet below.

With Yurikisho’s victory assured, he still had to wait for the Kaiho bout to know whether he won outright or would need to fight in a playoff. Kaiho won, meaning there would be a Jonidan playoff.

Sandanme

In Sandanme, the Kaiho victory meant Taiyo was out of the race and the winner would be one of two men. You’ll remember Arauma as the Jonokuchi yusho contender from January, who beat Atamifuji on their first meeting but then lost in their playoff rematch. This tournament, he faced the Kinbozan, who debuts in sandanme because of his success at the university level. Kinbozan was 10cm taller, and 30kg heavier and used all of that mass to overpower Arauma. Atamifuji awaits both, as they will be promoted to Makushita but Atamifuji is already nearing the precipice to Juryo.

Makushita

Ryuden won the Makushita yusho with straight-forward oshi-zumo against former Juryo wrestler, Chiyonoumi. This victory marks his return to action after serving a suspension. Along the way he did face several former sekitori, including Chiyonoumi, so his path to yusho was not easy.

He will need to do it again in January for promotion to Juryo, but that will be even more difficult with many wrestlers, including Atamifuji, fighting for the few slots which open up.

Juryo

Lastly, Ichiyamamoto claimed the Juryo yusho with an impressive 13-2 record. He’s virtually assured a slot in Makuuchi with Hakuho’s retirement, Asanoyama’s suspension, Shohozan’s demotion, and possible demotions for Kaisei and Kagayaki.

I couldn’t get all of the bouts into the video, so I supplemented with some of these clips from YouTube. I did manage to get the yusho ceremony so that’s tacked onto the end of the video at the top.

Kyushu 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 4

The Jonokuchi yusho race has narrowed this week to three contenders as of tonight’s action. Three bouts between five undefeated wrestlers had the potential to bring it down to two but Goseiryu’s adventures in Jonidan have not presented a challenge as of yet. Today, he made quick work of Asashorei with a bit of a hit-and-shift at the tachiai, leading to a thrust-down to finish.

Chiyoshishi took no chances with Gaia and broke him down immediately after the tachiai. Gaia’s henka was not fast enough to evade Chiyoshishi’s right paw. The nodowa, paired with a firm left hand grip at the back of proved devastating as Gaia had no counter, and was thrust down on his back in mere seconds.

Inoue followed Chiyoshishi’s lead with a right-handed nodowa at the tachiai, but he had no need for the ferocity in order to send Daishojo out of the ring. This likely sets up an exciting Chiyoshishi/Inoue bout on Monday with Goseiryu likely paired, again, with the lowest undefeated Jonidan combatant.

Goseiryu, Chiyoshishi and Inoue were the first three to kachi-koshi and have secured promotion to Jonidan. Gaia may have already seen enough success to put himself through to Jonidan, as well. It’s very possible that the eventual yusho winner may have one loss on his record since a Goseiryu vs Chiyoshishi/Inoue bout will feature later this week – if Goseiryu wins again.

Though the yusho race has narrowed, action obviously continues in the division and I want to bring you a great pairing of wrestlers who are one-win off the pace, Azumayama vs Wakaonehara. Azumayama’s only loss was to Daitenshin but Wakaonehara had the rough first bout against an amped Raiho. These guys bring quality sumo and a lot of effort on a normal day…but today we get a treat. This was the bout of the day in Jonokuchi, so I wanted to share this epic marathon bout.

If you’ve got four minutes to spare, this is worth it. It’s also funny for the interplay with the gyoji, 21-year-old Shikirmori Tomokimi. After such a marathon, he points the right way but loses his hat…then appears to want to give the win to Azumayama for recovering his hat. The look of disappointment and confusion as Azumayama turns to walk away from his loss is just one of those wonderful moments I love down in Jonokuchi, where the yobidashi and gyoji (as well as the wrestlers) are still learning their craft. I have to give Tomokimi-kun credit for getting the right call. I was lost and I’m sure would have caused a mono-ii (judge’s conference) and sashi-chigae (reversal).

Aki 2021: Jonokuchi Match Day 5

The schedulers did not pit Setonoumi against Mifuneyama. Mifuneyama was needed for another bout in Jonidan, against an undefeated Kogomaru so Setonoumi faced Agadzumazakura. Despite the advantage of a matta, telegraphing exactly what Setonoumi was going to do, Agadzumazakura was caught completely wrong-footed and blasted from the dohyo. Mifuneyama’s tsuppari was too much for Kogomaru as the latter rikishi’s knee buckled and he fell backwards. Both men remain undefeated.

There are now four challengers with one loss if they decide to avoid the battle of the undefeated until a possible seventh bout. Kokuryunami made short work of Chiyofuku so I skipped that bout. Instead, I have Kototaiko in an entertaining battle with Tamanotora. Ito then out-leaned Ariake and Watanabe muscled Wakayutaka over the tawara to remain one back.

Leaders: Setonoumi & Mifuneyama

Chasers: Kokuryunami, Kototaiko, Ito, Watanabe

Unfortunately, there was not much to the Byakuen or Kato bouts as they were quickly defeated. Kato seemed to regress a bit, looking like his previous performances in the last tournament. We’ll keep an eye on them going forward but today I’ve decided to add a great bout with Nangu from Jonidan. At first I just wanted to add him to the post because his shiko is usually much better than the average low-ranker. However, he actually won the bout with a nice shitatenage.

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.