The “Ones to Watch” have a light roster for day 10, but what we lack in bulk we make up in intensity. That’s right, the much hoped for Ura vs Hoshoryu is on the torikumi for day 10.
Shoji vs Kototaiki – Both rikishi have 3-1 records, so this match is for kachi-koshi. Kototaiki had to re-set his sumo career in 2015 when he took an extended leave to treat an injury, and re-entered via maezumo. Now a Sandanme mainstay, he’s fighting at close to his highest career rank.
Naya vs Mitotsukasa – A 2-2 bracket match, Naya (Makushita) is taking on a Sandanme rikishi for his day 10 match. Irumagawa heya’s Mitotsukasa is a former university rikishi, who is working to return to Makushita. Should be a solid match.
Wakatakamoto vs Okinofuji – Another 2-2 bracket match, the lowest rank of the Waka* brothers takes on Makushita mainstay Okinofuji. Okinofuji has spent most of the last 2 years in mid Makushita, and will be a tough competitor.
Ura vs Hoshoryu – Maybe the biggest hype around a Makushita match this basho. We have Ura, who has hit the point of his recovery where he actually is having to work for a win, and we have young dynamo Hoshoryu who has reached a rank where his overwhelming natural ability is no longer enough. I am going to guess this match will only last a blink of an eye, but everyone will be watching.
Ichiyamamoto vs Mugendai – A 3-1 bracket match, with kachi-koshi on the line. Mugendai is a solid fighter who was formerly in Musashigawa heya, whose highest ever rank was Makushita 5.
Akua vs Kaisho – The top Makushita match of day 10, Akua’s bid to return to Juryo for Osaka needs him to win out, and to get there he needs to take down Tomozuna heya’s Kaisho, who is fighting well at his highest ever rank.
A smaller lineup of our “Ones to Watch” for Saturday, but there are some find Makushita matches to track, as we get towards the half way point for many of these rikishi. The competition for what may be just a handful of Juryo slots will be increasingly brutal as we near the conclusion of Hatsu, and we will be watching with interest.
Kenho vs Kirizakura – Kenho is winless, and another loss today would mean a make-koshi, and a demotion back down to Jonidan. Compared to Kenho’s amazing bulk, 100kg Kirizakura is a light-weight, but I am sure we will see some high-agility small-man sumo tonight.
Naya vs Terao – Naya is looking fairly solid thus far, and comes into this 2-1 bracket looking for his next win. Terao has been knocking around Makushita for the bulk of the last several years, and bring a serious challenge to Kaio’s grandson.
Wakatakamoto vs Ohata – Another 2-1 bracket match we see the lower ranked Waka brother up against a fairly young opponent in Ohata. Ohata, from Tokitsukaze heya, is near his highest ever rank, and seems to be competing well. Should be a good match.
Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – Near the half way point, only a handful of Makushita rikishi are still unbeaten, and these two are the highest ranked. This is a Darwin match, and may have a direct impact on if Wakamotoharu has a shot at breaking in Juryo. With this much on the line, it’s going to be a flat out battle!
Akua vs Kiribayama – Both rikishi enter this match with 2-1 records, but Akua has beaten Kiribayama in both of their prior matches. Both are ranked high enough that its possible they could be considered for elevation to Sekitori, so there is a lot on the line for them both.
We close out act 1 with a tight group of our “ones to watch”. The Makushita Waka* brothers are in action today, and that includes a throw down between Akua and Wakamotoharu! Act 1 is where we found out who is hot, and who is not, and try to figure out who might have a chance at the yusho. The first 5 days of action has been full of fun matches in the lower divisions, and we can expect an exciting ride for the next 10 days.
Naya vs Kirinofuji – A 2-0 bracket match, Naya has been very dominant so far, and shown some great sumo. His match against Kirinofuji has him against a rikishi who seems more comfortable in Sandanme rather than Makushita, so I give Naya a moderate edge.
Wakatakamoto vs Masutoo – In the 1-1 bracket, Wakatakamoto takes on 32 year old veteran Masutoo from Chiganoura heya. Masutoo has struggled with injuries, but is a dependable mid to upper Makushita rikishi. This is a good even match.
Midorifuji vs Tenkaiho – Midorifuji finds himself 0-2 to start Hatsu, and is up against winless Tenkaiho. Tenkaiho may sound familiar, because he is a former Maegashira and Juryo rikishi who has been fighting much lower down the banzuke since mid 2016. Could be a rough match.
Hoshoryu vs Higonojo – After a rough first match, Hoshoryu came back with energy and fighting spirit on day 4, and elevated himself to the 1-1 bracket. Today he faces 34 year old Kise heya veteran Higonojo. It’s going to be a wild match.
Akua vs Wakamotoharu – The “Ones to Watch” match of the night, Near the top of the 2-0 bracket, and likely slugging it out for a possibility to move to Juryo for March are these two. Who is more likely to win? No clue, but can’t wait to see them battle it out.
Day 2 was a non-stop feast of some bright young stars of sumo. We got to see Ura blast someone off the dohyo, we saw Hoshoryu struggle, and we saw Akua stuff Chiyonoo into dumpster. Onward to day 3, it’s another great night of lower division action, with may of the rikishi we are tracking back on the dohyo for more battles.
Wakamotoharu vs Takanofuji – All three Waka* brothers will fight on day 3, with Wakamotoharu just withing reach of joining his brother as a Sekitori. Takanofuji’s only trip to Juryo was interrupted with an injury that pushed him back down the pile. He’s hungry.
Akua vs Seiro – It’s steak, and lobster with both Akua and Wakamotoharu in action. It will be worth staying up just to see this match. Seiro is a former lower Maegashira, a Mongolian from Shikoroyama heya. He dropped out of Juryo in September following an injury, and like most of the “Wall” crew, he is ready to tear his opponent’s head off to return to Sekitori status.
Ura vs Chiyosakae – Ura submarined and ejected Takakento like a JMSDF torpedo, and on day 3 he draws Chiyosakae, a Makushita veteran from Kokonoe heya. He has been ranked as high as MS7 last year, but has been struggling to produce much above a 4 win kachi-koshi.
Wakatakamoto vs Hokutokawa – Another Waka* brother on the dohyo! this time he faces off against Hakkaku heya’s Hokutokawa. Hokutokawa as been unable to rank above mid-Makushita, and will provide a fairly solid opponent.
Naya vs Dairaido – Former Juryo Sekitori Dairaido will be quite a test for young Naya. This opponent will be no easy push over, in spite of the fact that he sufferd a significant injury in 2016 that saw him drop back down to Jonidan.
Shoji vs Okinoiwa – Okinoiwa is a mid-Sandanme mainstay, and I will be interested to see of Shoji can bounce back from his first match loss.
Torakio vs Kotonoumi – Torakio takes on a young rikishi from Sadogatake heya, who has never ranked above Sandandme.
Wakaichiro vs Miyakogawa – Wakaichiro looked strong and confident in his day 1 win, and we are all hoping that he has overcome the mechanical injuries he had been nursing at Kyushu. Day 3 he’s against Miyakogawa, from Isenoumi heya. Another newcommer, Miyakogawa has yet to break out of Jonidan, and had a fairly rough time of it in Kyushu.
Join me as I dig through YouTube and Twitter for the bouts that never make it to the mainstream feeds.
Hattorizakura-Denpoya. Denpoya is the latest recruit at Isegahama, one of six men from Aomori prefecture. Unlike most of the recent recruits by that heya, he actually has the size for sumo. But he went 1-3 at maezumo and has a lot to learn. His lucky stars arranged for him to face Hattorizakura on the first day, after Watai from Chiganoura beya became a no-show.
Take a look at this rather amusing bout between the two:
What you see here is the bout begin in jikan-mae. That’s a rarity in itself. Looks like Denpoya is so green he doesn’t get the whole shikiri ritual yet. But Hattorizakura goes ahead and meets him, sort of. And so the gyoji starts conducting it as a bout – which, if this is indeed jikan-mae tachiai, is not a mistake. I suppose the shimpan considered this to be a matta rather than a jikan-mae with mutual consent. So they go at it again. No worries – Hattorizakura is there to dispense white stars for everybody.
Soon after this bout came one between two other beginners – Shimomura and Daitenma. I am keeping an eye on Daitenma as I always watch out for foreigners. But this bout (sorry, I don’t have footage) went to Shimomura. So Daitenma is not going to be the next Mongolian to enter the 21 club.
Apart from Wakaichiro’s bout, which you have already seen in Bruce’s post, there were several bouts that drew my eye. I give you the ever-popular Colin PowellSatonofuji vs. Azumaiwa. I’m glad to see Satonofuji still active. I thought he might decide to call it quits after Harumafuji’s retirement ceremony, where he performed what was probably his last yumi-tori shiki. However, I guess he likes his life just as it is:
Go Satonofuji! He even attempts a death-spin there.
Another veteran in Jonidan is Hanakaze, mostly famous for being the oldest active rikishi (aged 48). If he gets through Hatsu and Haru safely, he will be the first rikishi almost a century to do sumo over three different eras. However, this is not a good start:
Another match of interest in this division is the one between Takataisho and Miyakomotoharu. Takataisho is the tsukebito Takanoiwa has beaten up, buying himself a one-way ticket to the barber shop. On previous occasions (yes, I’m looking at you, Takanofuji, formerly Takayoshitoshi), the victims quickly found themselves out of the world of sumo, so I am keeping an eye on Takataisho, to see that he doesn’t suffer a similar fate. So far, he seems to be doing well. He now serves as Takakeisho’s tsukebito. And here is how he looks on the dohyo:
Whoa, Miyakomotoharu, you don’t have to take the winner down with you, you know. Takataisho seems to be genki. Good!
Yes, I’m skipping Sandanme, as I haven’t found any footage from it. In Makushita, we open with Naya vs. Aomihama.
Straightforward oshi-zumo, and Naya gets his first gold star.
As we followed young Narutaki and his big brother Kyonosato through the Jungyo, I thought you may be interested in Narutaki‘s bout vs. Yokoe.
Unfortunately, Narutaki gets beaten rather spectacularly. He says he was very tense because this was his first Makushita bout.
And now we get into the “purgatory” part of Makushita, and we continue to follow Kototebakari as he takes on Tennozan.
A monoii is called. It takes Chiganoura oyakata quite some time to get up on the dohyo and he seems to be struggling with his link to the video room, but that’s his weapon of choice for the discussion. The video room says “dotai” – both down at the same time – so a torinaoshi it is, and this time Kototebakari gets a clean cut win.
Finally, we have a bout between two familiar names: Gokushindo, who had a very short visit to Juryo before dropping back to Makushita, and Wakamotoharu, also known as the second most gifted Onami brother
This is an entertaining bout between two rikishi who obviously have technique. But Gokushindo needs to work on his power.