Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 9

Yokozuna-level mind games, Hoshoryu

We start our coverage at the most predictable point of the torikumi – our friend Hattorizakura. Today he faced one of the lesser Narutos, Yamane with his back to us, who was 1-3. Hattorizakura himself was 0-4.

The result was about as unpredictable as a fusensho. Yamane improves to 2-3.

Jonidan

Our friend Homarefuji had a meeting with Sumo’s main Elvis figure – Mutsukaze, the man with the great mutton chops, but also a great singing voice. The footage starts mid-bout, with Homarefuji on the left holding on to Mutsukaze on the right.

Homarefuji again engages in a yotsu battle, and it seems also a stamina battle, as we can hear the huffing and puffing. The Isegahama man improves to 5-0, and remains in contention for the Jonidan yusho.

Sandanme

Wakaichiro mounted the dohyo to face Azumasho from Tamanoi beya. Both 2-2. Wakaichiro attacks from the left, Azumasho from the right.

It didn’t go well for the young Texan, who got caught in a hold he doesn’t know how to solve. Note how he picks up and re-arranges the shimpan’s sandals, which he probably disarranged in his fall, on his way back up on the dohyo. Ever a polite boy.

The shimpan, by the way, have two pairs of sandals with them. One pair is used for getting in and out of the arena, and one is used for mounting the dohyo in case of a monoii discussion.

Another match of interest today took place between Dairaido from Takadagawa beya, and Amakaze, yet another one of the recoverers we follow. Dairaido is an interesting fella, he is 39 years old, and has an experience of six basho in Juryo, back in 2006. 13 years after tasting the taste of heaven, he is still toiling in the lower divisions.

Here Amakaze is on the left, and Dairaido on the right:

For a 39 years old who is lighter and smaller than Amakaze, Dairaido is full of genki. Amakaze makes a grave mistake in the middle, and is late to get his bearings before Dairaido leads him out. Amakaze now 3-2. He will probably get his kachi-koshi, but his way back up to glory is going to be slow.

Makushita

Makushita is where it’s at this basho. We start at the bottom with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, who wants to get his kachi-koshi today. He is on the right, while Keitenkai – that’s the guy who beat Roga on day 1 – attacks from the left.

The former Ozeki has a problem getting any mawashi grip with his left hand, due to the dislocated finger. In addition, Keitenkai gets inside low – trying something of a submarine attack, I’d assume. But that’s about it from him. He is out of his league, and Terunofuji executes a kotenage. Keitenkai ends up with a bonus: a face full of gift-wrapped Ozeki junk.

Terunofuji is kachi-koshi, 4-1, and will hope to end 6-1.

Next, all Onami brothers were in action today, and the first we run into is Wakatakamoto, the eldest brother. He is on the left, facing Sagatsukasa from the little-known Irumagawa beya, on the right. Both are 3-1.

Sagatsukasa is 37 years old. Yet another odd case of someone who had a sekitori career – a real one, 22 basho in Juryo including yusho, 6 in Makuuchi. And yet he chooses not to retire but to continue in the lower division for years.

But all that experience tells. Sagatsukasa tries all sorts of wiles, and the first bout ends in a monoii and a torinaoushi.

In the Torinaoshi, it seems Wakatakamoto is trying a henka. This gets Sagatsukasa a bit pissed off, I believe, and he sets a beautiful trip, for the “chongake” kimarite.

Next, our buddies Akua and Midorifuji set out to try and maintain their perfect records. Aqua is on the left, and Midorifuji on the right, in this footage from SumoSoul’s Twitter:

The Deputy Pixie doesn’t manage to get anything going, really, and gets a hatakikomi, and a send off away from the Makushita yusho. Akua improves to 5-0.

Naya, who hurt his foot yesterday, mounts the dohyo today with some serious taping on his ankle. on the left, facing Churanoumi on the right, both are 1-3 and have “no tomorrow” – the loser is make-koshi.

Naya executes what seems like his best sumo this basho, but ends it limping heavily. He evades the make-koshi for now, but Churanoumi is not going back to Juryo this time around.

Our next Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, faces Seiro, the Shikoroyama wolf. Both are 3-1, looking for their kachi-koshi. Seiro on the left, Wakamotoharu on the right.

Haru nearly finds himself outside, when he realizes Seiro is out of balance, and quickly reverses his fortunes. Kachi koshi for the middle Onami. Wakatakakage also lost today, by the way, so Wakamotoharu was the only happy Onami on the way home.

Finally, the highlight of the day, the bout between Chiyootori, yet another hugely experienced former sekitori, and 20 year old Hoshoryu. Though I’m sure it’s easy to tell apart Chiyomaru’s brother from the slim Hoshoryu, I’ll still mention that Chiyootori is on the left and Hoshoryu on the right.

I recommend that you do not skip directly to the tachiai in this footage, but take a look at the pre-game. Chiyootori is slapping his belly emitting a “whoosh” from his lips as he does. Hoshoryu, on the other hand, concentrate on staring so hard you think either his eyes or his lips might fall off. He is giving Chiyootori the full “Asashoryu Face” treatment. This continues well after the gyoji reverses his gunbai – something which Hakuho got reprimanded for only a few days ago.

But then, Hoshoryu is not (yet) a Yokozuna.

Hustle, hustle, uwatedashinage. Hoshoryu improves to 3-2. I’m not sure whether a 4-3 will be enough for him to advance – it depends on the number of men dropping from Juryo. He will need that number to be at least three, or either of the Ms1 rikishi to have a make-koshi – and currently only Aminishiki is certain to drop, and Seiro and Irodori are 3-2.

Of course, first he needs that fourth win.

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.

Natsu Day 12 – Ones To Watch

Day 11 was chock-ablock with our “Ones to Watch” cohorts, and that leaves day 12 with a light schedule. On day 11, we had the yusho candidates facing each other, and the few remaining undefeated in our list all took their first loss. This included Naya losing to Takanofuji, who will face Chiyoarashi for the Makushita yusho. In Sandanme, Amakaze lost to Toyo University entrant Shiraishi, who will go on to contest for the yusho on day 13.

I also am happy to report that Wakaichiro picked up his 4th win and secure his kachi-koshi after a worrying 0-2 start. He battled back from a cold opening to a winning record, with one match left to decide how large his July promotion will be. For reasons I don’t understand, he always fights better in Tokyo.

For those following the return of former Ozeki Terunofuji, he also won decisively on day 11, improving to 5-1. Roga also won, securing his kachi-koshi in a very one-sided match against Aratora.

Day 12 Matches

Wakatakamoto vs Jokoryu – Both men hold a make-koshi (1-4), and for Jokoryu this derails any hope he might have of returning to the salaried ranks any time soon. Experience edge goes to Jokoryu, and I think I would give a health advantage to Wakatakamoto.

Midorifuji vs Chiyootori – The former Komusubi, Chiyootori, is one win away from a winning record, if he can get past Midorifuji. Chiyootori is not ranked high enough to make it back to Juryo this tournament, but he could possibly get to that position by Aki with some skill and some luck.

Akua vs Bushozan – Both men have their 4th win already, and now they are fighting for rank in the Makushita joi-jin for Nagoya. Bushozan is fighting just below his highest ever rank, where Akua seeks to return to Juryo soon.

Musashikuni vs Keitenkai – Musashikuni can still reach kachi-koshi, but he needs to win his 2 remaining matches. His oppoennt, Keitenkai, was injured on day 2 of Aki 2012, and spent the next year struggling to recover and re-ascend the banzuke.

Shoji vs Hikarugenji – Winner of this match is kachi-koshi. Their one prior match was taken by Osaka native Hikarugenji.

Kitanowaka vs Ryuga – This match is actually to determine where to rank both of these 4-1 rikishi for the Nagoya banzuke. I would expect both of them to make the cut for Jonidan, but where is the quesiton.