Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 2

If eyes could kill…

Day two, and we had a lot of big names in the lower divisions. Let’s work our way from the bottom.

Jonokuchi

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?

Jonidan

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.

Sandanme

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.

Makushita

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.

Juryo

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.

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.

Lower divisions – Days 11 and 12

Hoshoryu avoided a make-koshi on his birthday

Today I’m trying to catch up on two days of lower division action. Let’s start with day 11, May 22.

Continue reading

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.