Jonokuchi Match Day 5

Shonanzakura Competes

Match Day 5 brought several surprises. First up, I wanted to show the valiant efforts put forth by Shonanzakura. He had two great bouts — one against Higohikari and the other against Kato. Often, when Shonanzakura mounts the dohyo and surveys his opponent, you just see fear in his eyes. I’ve seen that fear in Kato, as well. Several times this tournament, he’s curled up his arms or turned his back after the tachiai, to protect himself.

I can’t say that I blame them. I’ve not climbed up there to face a 300 lb linebacker with no pads (or pants) and I imagine that first few times would be rather intimidating. There was no intimidation yesterday as Shonanzakura powered through a nodowa or today as he nearly worked Kato over the edge. Still, the outcomes were as everyone predicted…despite much more drama than usual. That losing streak may come to an end sooner than we thought.

The Yusho Race

Shonanzakura’s effort would not be the only shocker of this Match Day. Kiryuko fell to Mogamizakura in the first bout of 4-0 undefeated wrestlers. Kiryuko appeared to want to drive forward but his foot slipped and he came to a knee. There may be some celebrations at Shikihide-beya! With Mogamizakura moving to 5-0, Shunrai would have to defeat Iwata in order to stay on pace. He did his job, and he did it in rather dominant fashion with a well-executed throw in the middle of the ring. This sets up a Shunrai/Mogamizakura bout on Match Day 6 for sole possession of the lead.

This also means that unless the winner also wins on Day 7, the door is still open for potential playoffs among 6-1 wrestlers. There’s quite a number at 4-1. Six wrestlers, including the aforementioned Kiryuko. Miyagi, Asasorai, Mukainakano, Abe, and Takashoki are all still in this race and sure set up the possibility of several great bouts over the coming days. In the video above, I included Asasorai’s victory over Matsugi as a bonus because I found that particularly hard-fought and entertaining. Enjoy!

Nagoya 2021 Jonokuchi Preview

Bruce has brought you the preview of tonight’s Makuuchi action. In just a few hours, though, action starts with Shonanzakura mounting the dohyo against Byakuen. Byakuen is one of the ten fresh faces that we first saw during maezumo in May. There are a total of 49 wrestlers in the bottom division this tournament. Aside from being great prime-time viewing here in the Eastern US, the division is always an interesting mix of guys. Other than the amateur champions who qualify for privileged placement in Sandanme or Makushita, all careers begin here.

Do not scoff at light-weights here. Hakuho, Harumafuji, Kakuryu, Akebono, Takanohana, Wakanohana (those last three from the same class)…the list goes on. And some of these young men are unrecognizable the next time they don a kesho mawashi. Other former Jonokuchi standouts never rise to the pros but sure do have talent, and it’s wicked fun to see some quality throws and trips down here. I hope for a few tonight…except in the Shonanzakura bout. Please treat him gently, Byakuen.

The next bout features ex-Tokitsukaze oyakata’s younger son, Shunrai. He has been paired against Hattori, who is now wrestling with the shikona Tamatensho. Shunrai’s elder brother, Kiryuko, will likely fight tomorrow. The next bout features Nobehara against Hitoshi, former Sawadasho. Both guys are sitting in the front row, next to each other, to the right of Mukainakano. I’m tipping this bout to be a good one. From here, none of the remaining bouts include “rookies.”

Next up we have a couple of more veteran wrestlers. Kyonosato is famously Itadaki’s YouTube co-star. I would say “as he reviews Itadaki’s fine chanko”…but there’s usually more eating than reviewing. Kyonosato was kyujo in May after two straight 2-5 tournaments to begin the year, so he has plummeted down the banzuke into Jonokuchi. Arikawa was also kyujo in May after being injured in March and, consequently, missing the last half of Haru. In this bout, I’m not looking for an early yusho contender, I’m just hoping both guys have recovered.

Fujimusashi also returns from May kyujo while Chiyofuji may as well have been kyujo, going 0-7 last basho. Both are 16 and debuted last year but their records are already quite interesting stories. Each has had a successful 5-2 basho under their belts…but each have also had terrible ones. Matsuzawa faces Mihonoumi in the next bout. Matsuzawa’s first tournament was in May but he was unable to get out of Jonokuchi. Mihonoumi, of Musashigawa-beya, on the other hand, pulled out half-way through Natsu.

For the next two bouts, Abe vs Sonoshun and Asasorai vs Takashoki, each had more success last tournament, picking up 3 wins each in their first full tournament. I wonder if either will be motivated enough by being so close to kachi-koshi that they push harder this tournament and secure promotion.

The Kirinohana vs Higohikari bout is probably going to be a good opportunity to get a beer. Kirinohana debuted last spring but has not yet cleared Jonokuchi. I guess the plus side of never registering a kachi-koshi is that his rank continues to rise, though at a rather slow pace. His opponent, Higohikari has been in the sumo world since 2003 but has so far topped out at Jonidan 57, spending the last year and a half in the bottom division. Stay in the kitchen at the fridge for a little longer. Even if you only have one kind of beer in your fridge — and even if it’s that weak, mass-produced, barley-and-sugar infused fizzy-water that’s common here — it’s worth hanging out there just to find which can/bottle is coldest. Shiraishizakura vs Sawanofuji is the kind of bout that makes you think they’re just in this for the free chanko. When someone wins, it doesn’t matter which way the gumbai points. Just take a swig and thank the Gods that we’re in Jonidan. The action will get better from here, I promise.

The Jonokuchi schedule for tomorrow has not been posted but I would presume Miyagi Yo and Mukainakano will be on the bill.