Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 14

First make-koshi for Hoshoryu

I have a short report for you today. You all know that Enho finally got his kachi-koshi today. Let’s take a look at some of Hakuho’s other uchi-deshi.

In Jonidan, the biggish Toma suffered his first loss on Day 11, so he dropped out of the yusho race there, and today, with a balance of 5-1, engaged with Yoshii from Nakagawa beya. Toma is on the left (he is really hard to miss), and Yoshii on the right:

Yoshii turns out to be far from a pushover, and even managed to throw the humongous Toma with an uwatenage. Not exactly your Mongolian “roll’er-over-in-the-clover”, but still. I’m really hoping Toma will start losing some of that extra poundage, and show something better than Orora-zumo. In any case, he is 5-2, kachi-koshi, and will keep moving up.

At Sandanme, we meet Hakuho’s oldest – and apparently most damaged – uchi-deshi, Yamaguchi. He comes into this match with 3-3, so the winner is kachi-koshi and the loser, make-koshi. On the left we have Tochimitsuru, from Kasugano beya.

Yamaguchi doesn’t offer much in the way of resistance, and is make-koshi. He will drop further down in Sandanme.

Makushita

Akua, our aquatic rikishi from Tatsunami beya meets Nishikifuji from Isegahama beya. Nishikifuji and Midorifuji are the biggest new hopes in Isegahama beya, a heya which two years ago sported six sekitori, including a Yokozuna and an Ozeki, and now only two of them remain.

Nishikifuji is ranked Ms8w, and he and Akua are both 5-1 as they stare at each other across the dohyo. Akua is on the left, Nishikifuji on the right:

Akua is very efficient this basho – a quick katasukashi in this case. He finishes it 6-1, while Nishikifuji will have to settle for 5-2 and will have a chance of ramming himself against the gateway to Heaven in Aki.

His heya mate, the tiny deputy pixie Midorifuji, is similarly 5-1 (though ranked a little lower, at Ms11w). He is facing our Hungarian friend, Masutoo, here on the left.

Mastoo is not letting Midorifuji try any pixie dust on him. The big Hungarian has his second 6-1 basho in a row, and will start smelling the heady perfume of silk mawashi across the barrier next basho. Midorifuji will settle for 5-2, and he, too, will be in that hot neighborhood.

The last Makushita bout (though not the last Makushita wrestler fighting) is between Tamaki and Hoshoryu. This is a life-or-death bout. The two are not just fighting for kachi-koshi vs. make-koshi, but also, at their rank, for a very probable ticket to Juryo, which only the winner can take. Hoshoryu is on the right, Tamaki on the left:

Hoshoryu’s hand touches the surface of the dohyo. The gyoji notices immediately and points his gunbai, but the two are not paying attention and keep fighting. But even if that finger did not touch the dohyo, Hoshoryu was completely out of balance for most of it, and would have lost anyway.

He suffers the first make-koshi of his career. The Japanese press tells us that he was still wearing his game face (he is really overdoing it in the staredowns, methinks) as he was walking down the hana-michi, but in the shitakubeya he broke out in tears, and the only thing he said to the reporters was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.

Kid’s 20 years old. This was his one chance to match his uncle’s speedy ascent from Jonokuchi to the sekitori ranks, and he blew it. He will get there, but it will probably take a couple of basho now that his make-koshi will send him a few ranks down. I’m sure it stings as hell.

Tamaki, on the other hand, enjoyed the limelight today, surrounded by press and media people.

Juryo

Kaisho, Ms4w from Asakayama beya was sent into Juryo today to fight Arawashi. Kaisho was 3-3 and needed a kachi-koshi. Arawashi was already make-koshi, 5-8, but needs to tread carefully. Kaisho is on the left, Arawashi is nursing an eye injury, on the right.

Despite Arawashi’s efforts, Kaisho manages to get a good grip and yorikiri the veteran. Arawashi is 5-9, and is edging towards the danger zone. Kaisho, on the other hand, is kachi-koshi, and may be considered for promotion if there are enough demoted Juryo members, and Wakamotoharu doesn’t improve from his five wins tomorrow.

So tomorrow is the big day, senshuraku, with some exciting playoffs, and some familiar names like Wakamotoharu and, of course, Terunofuji, who will be facing the very dangerous henka artist Shiraishi.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 4

Not-quite-kaiju

Usually, Nagoya basho is a hot and slippery mess. But this one is full of lovely sumo and good fights. But first, let’s take a look at today’s maezumo, to follow up on the newcomers, before continuing with the ranked matches.

In the following video, we have:

  • Kotoomura (veteran) – Hokutenkai (new)
  • Omura (veteran) – Konno (new)
  • Urutora (veteran) – Bariki (veteran)
  • Hisasue (new) – Kochikara (veteran, sort of)
  • Kotoomura (again) – Senho (new)

Kotoomura got a fundamental yori-kiri from Hokutenkai. That man is not taking any prisoners. While Konno from Naruto and Hisasue from Kokonoe will have no good news to report to their oyakata, Hakuho’s Senho, despite looking as green as a fresh leaf, shows that he has some signs of sumo in him, not just henka. He can’t do a tachiai properly, but he is 2-0 in maezumo.

Jonidan

From Senho we move to Hakuho’s next youngest uchi-deshi, Toma, who is not quite as gangly as Senho (but on the other hand, he doesn’t have a cool shikona). Toma here attacks from the left, and Asanoshima from Takasago, from the right:

Toma is 2-0, keeping himself in the race for the Jonidan yusho. But the main contender for that is our next contestant, the dreamy Kitanowaka. Here he is on the right, with Chiyooga from Kokonoe beya on the left:

This one proved to be quite a challenge for Prince Charming, as Chiyooga is quite a sticky wrestler. But the Hakkaku man prevails.

Sandanme

So here is our friend Narutaki – the friendly guy from Isenoumi beya, who is rumored to be a good English speaker, by the way – on the left, vs. Izumigawa of Minezaki beya on the right.

Narutaki leaves the “nice” off the dohyo, and goes straight at Izumigawa. He is now 2-0.

Then there is Shoji, from Musashigawa beya. Here on the left, with Tsugaruumi from Tamanoi beya on the right.

The smaller guy does not pose much of a problem for Shoji. Oshidashi.

Makushita

We open Makushita with Shiraishi who, if you recall, is Natsu’s Sandanme yusho winner and a generally strong guy. But I’m not really happy with his sumo today (right, facing Keitenkai on the left):

He starts with a failed henka attempt, and then after engaging he does some backwards sumo. Ummm.

The highlight match of the lower Makushita was slated to be Terunofuji vs. Onojo (Takadagawa beya). Onojo is a regular Sandanme wrestler, with a few peeks into Makushita. Shouldn’t be a problem for a former Ozeki. But don’t place your bets yet:

Terunofuji allows Onojo to morozashi him. Morozashi – having both arms inside. The morozashi itself is danger. Having a morozashi with a firm grip on your opponent’s mawashi is usually a winning position. There are a couple of ways to get out of it – a double outside grip on the mawashi, which we have seen Tochinoshin perform in the past – gives good leverage for a lift. A double kime, which is what Terunofuji is attempting here, may be able to choke your opponent’s grip – if this was Nishikigi – or a lift, if you are the original Terunofuji who had knees.

But this Terunofuji doesn’t have them. And while he attempts his power sumo again and again, eventually the stubborn Onojo, who doesn’t let go of that mawashi grip throughout the dance, prevails. Terunofuji will not have the Makushita yusho this tournament.

Following the bout, he told the press the reason why the bout went the way it went. “I was planning to grab his mawashi, but my finger got loose”.

Finger? So as it turns out, the former Ozeki was practicing with Shodai. Yes, a Makuuchi guy and a favorite practice toy for Yokozuna and the like. And while he did this, he managed to damage his finger. Thank you, Shodai. We appreciate your vast contribution to Sumo. 🙄

So now we have a kaiju with no knees and no grip. Lovely.

We move on to Kototebakari, here on the left, facing Nishikifuji, one of Isegahama’s sekitori hopefuls, on the right:

Kototebakari is not here to cater to the hopes of anybody but himself.

This post is getting too depressing on the Isegahama front (Tomisakae also lost his bout. So let’s hope Midorifuji (right) can do something against Asabenkei, the Takasago guy who has sekitori experience, on the left:

Yes! Thank you, pixie. You made an Isegahama fan happy.

Middle Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, is facing Akua. Both former sekitori and wanting to get back there as fast as possible, thank you very much. Akua on the left, Wakamotoharu on the right:

Alas, the man from Fukushima fails, and only little brother Wakatakakage is left to save the family pride today.

Finally, Fujiazuma from Tamanoi beya is facing Prince Naya. Naya was rather devastated by yesterday’s matta-that-wasn’t-a-matta. He seems totally out of confidence, and of course causes a matta, which causes him to really lose his bearings. Let’s see how it goes from there (Fujiazuma left, Naya right):

The oshi specialist Naya gets himself entangled in a sloppy yotsu match. But somehow, he manages to survive and throw Fujiazuma with a sukuinage, to even his score. 1-1. Get a hold of yourself, kid.

Nagoya Storyline #3 – The Makushita Joi-Jin

Some readers are wondering – what is a “Joi-Jin”? In general, it’s the top 10 or so ranks of any lower division, and in the case of Makushita for Nagoya, it’s jam-packed with some rather potent rikishi. Some of them are veterans pushing hard to return to sekitori status, others are up and coming youngsters fighting their way up the banzuke. As we have said before on Tachiai, the top end of Makushita, especially during week 2, is where some of the most flat out, 110% sumo takes place. We expect Nagoya, given who is in the joi for Makushita, to be especially frantic.

It’s important to note that unlike the top 2 divisions, matches go by pairing rikishi who have the same record for all 7 of their matches. So after the first match, all of the 1-0 will fight other 1-0, and all of the 0-1 rikishi will pair off with other 0-1 fighters. This narrows down the 100-200 strong divisions into a workable yusho elimination bracket by match 6 or so in most cases. Because of the vigorous competition in the Makushita joi, many of its members count themselves blessed if they can simply exit the basho with kachi-koshi (4 wins). Lets take a look at who is in the joi this time.

EastRankWest
SeiroMs1Irodori
DaiseidoMs2Hoshoryu
TamakiMs3Churanoumi
ChiyootoriMs4Kaisho
FujiazumaMs5Wakamotoharu
ChiyonokuniMs6Naya
AkuaMs7Tsukahara
KototebakariMs8Nishikifuji
BushozanMs9Chiyosakae
HakuyozanMs10Nogami

There are quite a few notables here

Seiro – Long time Juryo mainstay Seiro finds himself the top man in Makushita after a 7-8 make-koshi at Juryo 14. A simply 4 wins will put him back in a kesho-mawashi for September.
Irodori – A 6-9 in his Juryo debut in May put him back in Makushita, like Seiro, he needs both a kachi-koshi and some poor performance at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke to return.
Daiseido – After finishing 3-12 at Osaka, he dripped out of Juryo far enough down into Makushita that 5-2 finish at Natsu could take him no higher than Makushita 2.
Hoshoryu – Some readers get frustrated when we mention this, but this fellow is in fact former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew. He has been plugging away with excellent speed / agility sumo, and he’s on the cusp now of a promotable rank. This guy, if he can stay healthy, is likely a future star.
Churanoumi – Former Nihon University athlete, he’s won 3 yusho (including a 7-0 Makushita yusho in Osaka) and already been in Juryo twice.
Chiyootori – Long-serving Maegashira, he has been plagued by injuries and is now fighting to try to return to the salaried ranks. At one point in 2018, he was ranked in Sandanme, but has been fighting back.
Wakamotoharu – After a Makushita yusho in January, and a 5-10 debut as a sekitori in Osaka, this Onami brother is outside the range to likely be promoted with a simple kachi-koshi, he’s going to have to run up the score.
Chiyonokuni – Did you wonder where Makuuchi mainstay Chiyonokuni ended up after he brutally injured his knee? Right here, in the briar patch. A healthy Chiyonokuni can take these guys to the cleaners, but I am going to guess he is lucky to be at 75%. It could get ugly.
Naya – Another young, up and coming rikishi from a sumo family, he has been on a slower upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu, but his sumo is coming to gether very well. He’s not at a promotable rank unless something crazy happens, but his last 2 tournaments featured 6-1 records.
Akua – I have to admit, I really like Akua’s sumo. I want to see him march ahead on the banzuke, but his accumulated injuries seem to have capped his performance.
Kototebakari – Another young man on a rocket ride up the banzuke, this 19 year old rikishi from Chiba has only had one make-koshi in his professional sumo career.

As you can see, even looking into a handful of these rikishi, there is a lot of talent, and a lot of drive to win. It’s going to be tough staying up to watch the top Makushita matchs, but I suspect for Nagoya, there may be a lot of great sumo action to follow from this group.