Ones To Watch – Nagoya Day 1

Welcome back to our feature where we dig into some of the action further down the banzuke; in the divisions below Juryo. It’s a combination of hard-charging young up-and-comers battling against fading stars and mainstay rikishi returning from injury. The action here is frequently hit or miss, but as we love to say about the upper Makushita, these rikishi are almost to the salaried ranks, and the battles here are sometimes more action packed than most of the televised matches for that day.

Day 1 action is light for our roster that we are watching, with most of the heavy action apparently slated for day 2. But lets go over who is on the dohyo to start the tournament in the sweat box that is Nagoya.

Wakamotoharu vs Fujiazuma – After a single basho as a sekitori, Onami brother Wakamotoharu could do no better than a 3-4 make koshi in May, and finds himself at Makushita 5, well back in the pack and possibly out of range to bid for promotion in any real sense. He faces former Maegashira 4 Fujiazuma, who at 32 years is finding his body struggling to support his sumo.

Midorifuji vs Hokutokawa – Midorifuji is not on a meteoric rise up the banzuke, but it’s notable that he has racked up 4 consecutive kachi-koshi since Aki 2018. This approach has put him at Makushita 11, his highest ever rank. His opponent, Hokutokawa, sat out Osaka with injuries, but came roaring back, and is likewise fighting at his highest ever rank.

Wakatakamoto vs Inoue – Further down the torikumi, we find another Onami brother. Wakatakamoto is looking to bounce back after a 2-5 make koshi in May, and fight his way to the higher spots in the division. He faces 19 year old Inoue, who is at his highest ever rank, and has been kachi-koshi in the last 3 tournaments.

Shoji vs Genbumaru – Shoji is one good tournament away from breaking back into Makushita, and possibly bypassing Musashigawa’s flagging scion Musashikuni. Genbumaru, his opponent, is fighting near his highest ever rank.

Amakaze vs Kototora – Former Juryo mainstay Amakaze has produced 6-1 and 5-2 records since his return from a 8 month kyujo. He has also become a bit of an internet star for videos showing him enthusiastically eating all manner of goodies. I expect him to have little trouble with Kototora, as I think Amakaze is under-ranking right now.

Kitanowaka vs Ota – Kitanowaka was very impressive in his first basho, resulting in a 6-1 record and a solid move into Jonidan. He faces a long serving veteran in Ota, who has been ranked as high as Makushita. I expect Ota will faithfully undertake the tempering of young Kitanowaka, who is fresh from the wide open play-yard of Jonikuchi.