Aki Day 6 – Bouts from the lower divisions

I owe you yesterday’s bouts before I start collecting today’s from the depths of Twitter and YouTube. Let’s go!

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Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Senshuraku

Do not irritate the kaiju

Here we are, at the end of what turned out to be a very interesting basho – and not just in the top division. Princes were dethroned (Hoshoryu and Naya make-koshi), new ones are in the making (one fresh nephew, and one Hakuho replica in maezumo). Let’s see what the last day brought us.

Jonokuchi

The big story in Jonokuchi was, of course, the three-way playoff between members of the same heya, Naruto beya. Marusho, Sakurai and Motobayashi did not allow themselves to be eliminated till the very end.

A three-way playoff (“tomoe ketteisen”) works like this – no matter at what division: two rikishi mount the dohyo, say A and B, and the third, rikishi C, awaits. Suppose A wins. B then descends the dohyo and waits, and C mounts it and takes on A. Should A win again, they yusho is his. if not, C stays on the dohyo, B joins him, and this continues until one of them wins two in a row.

So theoretically, this can go on until the cows come home. In practice, there is seldom symmetry of power, and the strongest one emerges pretty quickly.

Here is today’s three-way playoff. The yobidashi here also happens to be from Naruto beya – yobidashi kenta, who is nicknamed “Maeken” by his heya-mates. We start with Marusho on the right, Sakurai on the left, and Motobayashi waiting.

Well, Sakurai’s and Motobayashi’s university sumo experience tells. Marusho is merely a graduate of a good high-school sumo program. Sakurai wins the first bout, Motobayashi replaces Marusho and beats Sakurai, and then beats Marusho for the yusho. Motobayashi is a graduate of Kinki University, which produced many top-division wrestlers. In his school days he was considered Takakeisho’s rival, but he opted to continue his education when the future Ozeki left school for Takanohana beya.

Jonidan

Though the yusho has already been decided in Jonidan (Tokisakae), there were still rikishi who did not complete the seven matches. First, let’s take a look at long-legged Kitanowaka, the Hakkaku beya charmer, facing Tenei from Takadagawa beya. Both are 4-2, Kitanowaka is on the left.

Ah, we have ourselves a crane operator here. Kitanowaka finishes 5-2, and will get a decent bump up the ranks come Aki.

Next, we keep our watch out for Roman, the crew-cut man from Tatsunami beya. He is coming up against Isamufuji from Isegahama beya, and they are both 5-1. Roman is on the right:

This develops into a kind of dance in which both wrestlers try to keep their opponents from reaching the mawashi or any other hand hold. Eventually Roman catches an arm and pulls. He is now 6-1, and will get an even nicer bump up the ranks.

Finally, one we haven’t covered in these posts, but we all know and love. Well, at least, those of us who have been around before Isegahama beya lost its Yokozuna, and with him, its hold on the yumitori position.

I’m speaking of Satonofuji, of course. He is deeply make-koshi as he comes into this day, with 1-5, facing Shiraseyama from Kise beya with the same miserable result. One wonders why the 42 years old doesn’t call it quits yet. I’m guessing he has a couple of goals, yet. One is probably doing the yumi-tori shiki in Aminishiki’s retirement ceremony. The other may be that he is waiting to braid the last rope for his oyakata – the red one for his 60th birthday, to be used in the “kanreki dohyo-iri” performed by former yokozuna on that occasion.

Be that as it may, he has to go up the dohyo until then and do sumo, and here he is, facing us, while Shiraseyama is with his back to us.

It’s a bit of a slippiotoshi, one has to admit, but at least Satonofuji finishes senshuraku with a sweet taste.

Sandanme

In Sandanme we have yet another playoff, and it, too, is a playoff within the same heya – Asatenmai, the 38 years old from Takasago beya, faces Terasawa, the 24 years old who is just making his first steps in the sumo world. This is just a plain, single-bout playoff. Asatenmai on the right.

Hmm. I get a different atmosphere here than the amicable competition that ruled the Naruto three-way-playoff. Terasawa sends his ani-deshi (big-brother-heya-mate, similar to a sempai) off the dohyo and doesn’t even look back as he makes his way to his own starting point. Bad blood? Low-ranked rikishi operate in a seniority system, where the older ani-deshi boss them around.

In any case, Terasawa wins the Sandanme yusho.

Makushita

We start Makushita with the former Ozeki, Terunofuji, having his last bout. His opponent is one we have also been following – Natsu basho’s Sandanme yusho winner, Shiraishi. I have not been happy about Shiraishi’s bouts, mostly because of his henka or half-henka in the first ones. And I’m even less happy about this one, although he makes it pretty clear he is not going for a henka today.

Seriously, what is this? I get that he has some injury in the shoulder and the arm. But what is this? He starts the bout two thirds of the way from the shikiri-sen to the tawara. He tries to keep himself so far away from Terunofuji that his own tsuppari almost doesn’t hit him. This looks more like that Laurel and Hardy Battle of the Century. Shiraishi should be thankful he belongs to Tamanoi beya rather than Futagoyama, or he would have his ass kicked all over Twitter.

Next we have ourselves an Onami – the eldest one, in fact, Wakatakamoto. He faces Tochimaru from Kasugano beya, and they are both comfortably kachi-koshi, 4-2, hoping to increase their fortunes and banzuke chances. Wakatakamoto is on the left:

Alas, the eldest Onami drops this one, and once again fails to catch up with his little brothers.

Going up the Makushita banzuke, we have Seiro facing Kototebakari. Both are kachi-koshi, 4-2, and Seiro get a salary next basho. Kototebakari, again, is trying to win an extra match to improve his own position next basho. Seiro is on the left, Kototebakari on the right.

Seiro makes short work of the Sadogatake man, who usually shows a bit more fighting spirit than that. I guess kachi-koshi will do that to you. Seiro is 5-2, Kototebakari 4-3.

Juryo

At the very bottom of Juryo, we have another Onami brother, Wakamotoharu, making a visit that may open the door for him to return to the salaried ranks. He is 5-1, and at Ms5w, 6-1 can certainly propel him into Juryo. However, he is facing Kotonowaka, who is 7-7, and needs this win to avoid dropping back into Makushita, disappointing his father, and bringing shame to the shikona he inherited from him.

Wakamotoharu on the right, Kotonowaka on the left:

We see glimpses here of the old Kotokamatani, in what looks like a typical top-Makushita brawl more than a Juryo match. Kotonowaka saves himself from demotion. He may not advance much, but he stays in the silk zone, and gets to keep his huuuuge oicho.

I shall finish this report, showing you that Ishiura can still do sumo that’s more easy on the eyes than his frequent henka. The foe is Mitoryu from Nishikido beya, and I think I don’t need to tell you which is which.

Round and round and round you go, Mitoryu. Ishiura will probably get back into Makuuchi, qualifying for Hakuho’s dohyo-iri again. The big question, of course, is whethe Hakuho himself will qualify for it come Aki.

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.

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Day 10 – Ones To Watch In The Lower Division

Today’s post merges our daily “Ones To Watch” with my erratic video coverage of the lower divisions. Enjoy!

Kasugaryu. Seems to have a weird pact with the Great Cat Of The Kokugikan

Jonidan

None of our “Ones to watch” or “Ones to be flattened by” featured today in Jonokuchi, so we skip right to Jonidan. Satonofuji, the legendary bow twirler, won his first day, but then suffered three consecutive losses. Can he still salvage a kachi-koshi? The road there goes through Kotomanabe (the “nabe” in that name is actually the same as in “chanko-nabe”, a pot!)

Two years older than Aminishiki, Satonofuji is still sumo-worthy.

Next we have Wakaichiro’s bout, which Andy captured for us. Wakaichiro faces Takataisho, who is known as the tsukebito who survived Takanoiwa.

Nice work! Our man from Texas may yet get that kachi-koshi!

Sandanme

The following footage is not recommended to the feint-of-heart. Kasugaryu, our current yumi-tori performer from the wonderful photo at the top, faces Tanakayama, and not only loses, but dislocates his knee.

The most bizarre scene follows, wherein Kasugaryu, with an expression that says more “not again!” than “ow!”, resets his own knee, then limps over to make his bow.

Ow.

When Bruce pointed out this strange occurrence this morning on my Twitter feed, I was sure by the end of the day we will see Satonofuji or Shohoryu covering for the bow man in the closing ceremony, but no:

What is this man made of? 😨

On we go to the less bizarre parts of Sandanme, and we have our “One To Watch”, Shoji from Musashigawa beya, facing Sumanoumi:

Nice survival at the edge there. Shoji is now 3-2 and closer to a kachi-koshi.

Finally, the main match of interest in Sandanme today has been that of former Ozeki Terunofuji vs. Fujitaisei of Fujishima beya.

Angry, or rather, exasperated yori-kiri it is. In the previous bout he said he made a mistake in thinking his opponent stepped outside when he didn’t. This time he made damn well sure.

Makushita

We start at the bottom, with the official American One To Watch, Musashikuni. He is facing Genkaiho from Otake beya (Same “ho” as in “Hakuho” and “Enho” – there are lots of these).

Genkaiho tries an arm lock there, but Musashikuni’s determination and better strength determine the result. Musashikuni maintains his chance of a kachi-koshi.

What’s up with Akua/Aqua then? He is facing Kaisho:

Aaaand… he is kachi-koshi within the blink of an eye, setting Kaisho gently on the floor by going backwards in a big arc.

Let’s take a peek at Isegahama’s back-flipping Tomisakae. He is faced with Ryusei, both are 3-1, and one of them will be kachi-koshi after this bout:

Alas, it is not our back-flipping hyperactive Tomisakae. Ryusei is kachi-koshi, and Tomisakae will have to look for his in the next bout.

Wakatakamoto faced Kizenryu today. At 1-3 he was with his back to the wall in his attempt to keep up with his little brothers (sorry, only partial footage here):

Although Wakatakamoto is the one who breaks the stalemate, Kizenryu is the one who takes advantage of his movement for a kotenage. The eldest Onami is make-koshi.

Our final match of the day is between Kototebakari and Kotokuzan. Note that Kotokuzan is not one of the Sadogatake Kotos (or he wouldn’t be facing Kototebakari) – it’s actually Kōtokuzan, from Arashio beya, who was hoping to become Sekitori before his oyakata retires.

This marks Kotokuzan’s third loss, and he needs to win out to avoid increasing his distance from the Heaven/Hell line at the top of Makushita. Kototebakari is now in a more comfortable position, though of course, at his level, he would have liked to be 5-0 rather than 3-2. Wouldn’t we all.

What are we expecting tomorrow?

In Jonidan, Wakaichiro returns to the dohyo to face Nakai. Hopefully, he can complete his kachi-koshi this day!

Amakaze is to face the sandanme-tsukedashi, Shiraishi, in what could be a very challenging match for both of them. Shiraishi is a strong up-and-comer, Amakaze has sekitori experience and newfound confidence. The winner stays in the yusho race, the loser… doesn’t.

Terunofuji ascends the dohyo again. Now that he has ensured his kachi-koshi, he will want to increase his winning margin to 5-1 against Asadaimon from Takazago beya.

Roga will want to achieve his kachi-koshi vs. Aratora from Isenoumi beya.

Naya is going to have a very fierce match tomorrow vs. Takanofuji (former Takayoshitoshi) who is very determined to regain his sekitori status and keep up with his “little” twin brother Takagenji. Both wrestlers are in the yusho race, and this is going to be deadly.

Hoshoryu is facing Fujiazuma, hoping not to give himself a make-koshi as a birthday present. Yes, Hoshoryu is 20 years old as of today, which in Japan is the age of majority. Many happy returns! Both wrestlers are 2-3 and this is going to be a killer bout.

Ichiyamamoto is going to face Kotokamatani. The winner of this match is kachi-koshi, and Ichiyamamoto will fiercely try to get his kachi-koshi now to be able to extend it enough to skip over the head of his rival on his way to sekitori-land.

Wakamotoharu gets to face Kizenryu, who gave his older brother his make-koshi today. The loser of this bout is make-koshi, and Wakamotoharu will want to avoid that like the plague, avenge his brother and regain his own sekitori status.

Nary a dull moment on day 11! Onwards and upwards!