Bruce is back from his business road trip, so it’s wall to wall sumo time! And what a night to get rolling. As Herouth mentioned, none other than risking star Hoshoryu will step onto the dohyo for a Juryo bout, when he takes on Juryo 13w Kizakiumi who clocks in at 2-3. Are you excited? I know I am. If Hoshoryu can hit kachi-koshi this tournament, there is a small but not zero chance he could make his Sekitori debut in September.
Elsewhere we have Wakaichiro, and a swarm of other favorites fighting their 3rd match. Let’s take a look at day 6:
Hoshoryu vs Kizakiumi – I think everyone wants Hoshoryu to score a win. Can he actually go toe to toe in Juryo and come out without that slippery clay on him? I want to find out…
Wakamotoharu vs Kaisho – A 1-1 bracket match, the winner would advance to the 2-1 bracket, thought neither of them are likely to contend for the yusho, and both are outside promotion range. So this one is for glory.
Naya vs Tsukahara – If Naya wins, we could conceivably see Naya face Wakamotoharu, which would be amazing. Both of these rikishi are in the 1-1 bracket, so like the match above, they are fighting purely for kachi-koshi at this time, and a chance to advance a bit closer to the Juryo line. Naya won their only prior match.
Masutoo vs Wakatakamoto – A 2-0 bracket match, this is the 3rd time these rikishi have met 3 times in the past, with Wakatakamoto taking 2 of them. I note that Masutoo has a distinct weight advantage over Wakatakamoto.
Yoshoyama vs Roga – Roga bounced back from his first match loss, and is looking to pull up to 2-1, possibly scoring a rematch against Terunofuji in the process (we all hope). Yoshoyama is another Mongolian rising star, from Tokitsukaze heya. This is probably going to be an excellent match.
Oginosho vs Musashikuni – Another 1-1 bracket match, Musashikuni is in range to be re-promoted to Makushita if he can make it to his 4th win. He has faced Oginosho twice before, losing them both.
Hamadayama vs Wakaichiro – Hamadayama is a 27 year old vet, and Wakaichiro is going to have his hands full. But he needs to bring his score up to 2-1, if he wants to reach his goal of a kachi-koshi in Sandanme. Here’s to hoping that his new-found strength and fighting spirit carries the day.
Kitanowaka vs Kirizakura – Yeah, it’s Jonidan, but this kid Kitanowaka is going places. He is 2-0, and if he can win out, I would not be surprised if he did not contend for the Jonidan yusho.
I’d like to start today with some maezumo. Nine wrestlers are participating in maezumo this basho. Of them, five are formerly ranked rikishi who are coming back from banzuke-gai status, which is where you get if you don’t show up to any match while ranked in Jonokuchi. The other four are new ones – three who passed the new recruit health checkup prior to this basho, and one who passed it in the previous basho, but had to wait for his visa to be approved.
This latter one is Takanoiwa’s nephew, Sukhbat, who graduated from the famous Saitama Sakae high school, and really should have belonged to the Hoshoryu/Naya generation. However, he was looking for a heya at the height of the Harumafuji scandal, in 2018, and the well-oiled Mongolian placement machine was not willing to work for him. That is, until Harumafuji and Takanoiwa reconciled. You can read all about him finding his way into the sumo world in our coverage of Takanoiwa’s danpatsu-shiki.
He now has a new shikona – Hokutenkai, “Heavenly Sea Of the North” – which is a variation on the name of a former Ozeki that he looked up to: Hokutenyu. It is a bit surprising that a young Mongolian rikishi would look up to an Ozeki who was active in the ’80s, but there you go.
After all this time, the man was starved for the dohyo. And you can see that very well in today’s maezumo bout.
Another interesting figure in maezumo is Hakuho’s latest recruit, Hasegawa. Half Japanese, half Mongolian, he grew up in Japan, but then moved to Ulaanbaatar, where he attended a Japanese school and played basketball.
This 16 years old, unlike Hakuho’s other recruits, doesn’t have much of a sumo experience. He did not belong to any sumo dojo as a kid, but he did participate in a major competition during his primary school days, where he drew the attention of one of Hakuho’s contacts, who tipped the Yokozuna. Tall, lanky, 16 year-old with a background more in basketball than in sumo. Hmm… whom does that remind you of?
That lack of experience did show in his maezumo bout.
The other two new faces in maezumo are Hisasue, who joins Kokonoe beya, and the gigantic Konno, who joins the fast-growing Naruto beya.
Here is a video showing first the preparations of all the participants, and then the bouts themselves, starting with Senho (left) vs. Bariki (right), then Hisasue (left) vs Konno (right), then finally, poor Urutora from Shikihide beya (left) vs. Hokutenkai (right):
Senho (meaning “A thousand pengs”, or “A thousand Phoenixes”) seems to have spent a little bit too much time around Ishiura. Yeah, I know, no sumo experience, shouldn’t expect much at this stage. Hokutenkai, on the other hand, is starved for sumo, full of self-confidence, and I wouldn’t want to be standing on the dohyo opposite him right now.
Resuming our regular programming, the sky almost fell today. Take a look at what happened in the Hattorizakura (right) vs. Yamamoto (left) bout:
A monoii. An actual monoii. And Hattorizakura seemed to be able to carry a bout of sumo against somebody twice his size. Wait, what was that shadow passing my window? Oh, a flying pig.
Continuing the adventure of the closely-shorn Roman from Tatsunami beya, here we have him vs. Kotokogyoku (let’s see you pronounce that three times in a row). Sadogatake man on the left, crew-cut Roman on the right:
Whoa. “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou”, I said, “art sure no craven”. At this rate Roman is a serious contender for the Jonidan yusho. I wonder how odd it will look to TV viewers if he does. BTW, Roman is not the only shorn rikishi in Tatsunami beya. There is another one, Yukiamami, who was also absent through Natsu, and is now back in Jonokuchi. Twitter is full of question marks about these two.
We continue to watch Amakaze on his trail back to fame and his beloved kesho-mawashi. Today he faces Baraki (left) who is one of Shikihide beya’s top ranking men, and famous for a stint in Shokkiri.
Amakaze nearly flattens the homunculus.
Next up is American-born Musashikuni (left) facing Kaizen from Asakayama beya (right).
Sorry it’s just a half-video. In any case, Kuni recovers from his initial loss, and is now 1:1.
A bit late, but I got Wakaichiro! So here he is. Kamitani from Michinoku beya attacks from the left, Wakaichiro from the right:
Frustrating misstep there for the young Texan. We hope he will bounce back. At least he is genki enough to lightly jump back up the dohyo. He is now 1:1.
We continue to follow Genki, the Former Turtle, here on the left, facing Kaito from Asakayama beya (right). They start this match with 1-0 each.
This time Genki is not as overwhelming as he was on day 1. He is now 1-1.
Aoi, who almost had an arm torn off by former kaiju Terunofuji yesterday, faced a slightly less fearful rival today – the Tokitsukaze Mongolian, Yoshoyama. Aoi on the left, Yoshoyama on the right:
Yoshoyama recovers from his first defeat for a 1-1, while Aoi probably curses his luck for having faced him with two consecutive Mongolians.
Recovering Hakuyozan (left) faces Nogami from Oguruma (right) for what should have been a relatively easy match for the more experienced recovering former sekitori.
However, it is Nogami who prevails, and you can see the frustration on Hakuyozan’s face, as he is now 1-1, and at Ms10, this one loss may well have blocked him from a quick return to his sekitori status.
Eldest Onami brother Wakatakamoto faced Terao from Shikoroyama beya today. Waka on the left, Terao The Third on the right:
This is one of those uncontrolled spirals of death kind of pushes, where the pusher cannot stop himself and just hopes he will fall after his rival is out. Terao doesn’t have the presence of mind to sidestep, and so Wakatakamoto is now 2-0.
Next, what is going on with our favorite Russian/Mongolian wolf, Roga? Can he recover from that initial blow? Here on the right, he faces Fujita, of Shikoroyama beya, on the left.
Yes, much better, Roga. Yorikiri. And that length of hair should put him in a chon-mage already.
Finally, we have our highlight bout, in which Hoshoryu gets to meet Seiro, a Mongolian with real sekitori experience and even a couple of visits to Makuuchi. Hoshoryu on the far side, Seiro with his backside to us:
Seiro doesn’t allow Hoshoryu to fully engage with him, using a technique similar to Ryuden’s to keep him away. Eventually Hoshoryu loses his footing, and looks pretty sour. It’s 1-1 to the famous nephew, and he can only afford one additional loss if he wants to be a sekitori by Aki.
Welcome to an abbreviated “Ones to Watch”, has Herouth has done her marvelous job of providing sumo fans with a feast of video goodies from the lower divisions. Day 3 features bounts from Wakaichiro, Amakaze, Musashikuni and Hoshoryu.
Hoshoryu vs Seiro – Hoshoryu certainly punched his card for “Serious Contender” on day 2, and now he faces the highest ranked rikishi in Makshita: Former Makuuchi rikishi – Seiro. As both me have 1 wins, this will help form the field of promotion contenders for September. Time to shine little dragon!
Wakatakamoto vs Terao – Another 1-0 bracket match, this rematch of an Osaka 2017 bout will give Wakatakamoto a chance to even the score.
Roga vs Fujita – Roga got a close look at the Nagoya clay in his day 2 loss, and looked quite out-classed. This was always a possibility once he crossed into Makushita, but I expect he will bounce back and fight hard for 4 wins.
Musashikuni vs Kaizen – I don’t know what kind of physical problems Musashikuni is still nursing, but he continues to struggle, even at a greatly reduced rank. His fans can only hope he can pull it together.
Amakaze vs Baraki – I continue to think that Amakaze is probably under-ranked right now, so I expect him to dominate the majority of his matches. Baraki spent two tournaments in Makushita, and has been largely in Sandanme for his 40 basho career.
Wakaichiro vs Kamitani – This will be an interesting match for Wakaichiro. Kamitani is a 17 year old rikishi in his 9th tournament, and he has had a largely upward path leading to this, his first ever Sandanme posting.
Day two, and we had a lot of big names in the lower divisions. Let’s work our way from the bottom.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.