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.

Bouts From the Lower Divisions – Day 13

Naruto oyakata, on duty today, with his 7-0 deshi Sakurai

We’re back on track! Today, although there were few “big names” on the torikumi list, there were many important matches. All the yusho deciders in Makushita or below were played today, resulting either in yusho winners, or in playoffs to take place on Senshuraku. We’ll go through these bouts, as well as some of our usual ones of interest.

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Lower divisions – Days 13 and 14

Hey, Hoshoryu, Asashoryu called and asked for his game face to be returned

Hey, I owe you readers two days of randomly picked lower division bouts!

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Natsu Day 13 – Ones To Watch

Naya Gives An Opponent A Flying Lesson..

With just a couple of days left, its time for our “Ones to Watch” to head to their final matches of Natsu. Many of the rikishi we are following managed to already score their 4th win, taking the pressure off for the final day. While none of them are in competition for divisional yusho, most of them have fought well this May, and will find themselves with new, more difficult challenges in Nagoya.

This will be a great day of lower division sumo, as most of the yusho will be decided today as the remaining 6-0 rikishi face off to find the best of each division. The action in Makushita the past 2 days has been extraordinary, in many cases exceeding what we have seen in Juryo and Makuuchi for nearly every match. The playoffs are a bit akward this time, as some of the divisions have 3 undefeated rikishi. In that case two of them meet head to head, and the third takes on a 5-1 rikishi, with a playoff on Sunday if needed to decide the yusho.

Makushita:
Takanofuji (Ms2w) vs Chiyoarashi (Ms35e)

Sandanme:
Shiraishi (Sd100TD) vs Hokutotsubasa (Sd22w)
and
Hokutokawa (Sd12w) vs Kirinoryu (Ms56e)

with a playoff on senshuraku if needed.

Jonidan:
Tochikamiyama (Jd42w) vs Terasawa (Jd14w)
and
Ito (Jk20e) vs Okinohama (Jd78w)

Yes, a Jonokuchi undefeated against a Jonidan

Jonokuchi:
Watanabe (Jk11e) vs Kawabuchi (Jk24e)

Indeed, this time the lower division yusho races are a complete and utter mess. Let the best man win!

Day 13 Matches

Wakamotoharu vs Shiba – Both rikishi already have a losing record tally for Natsu, this match is to see how far down the banzuke they will fall. This is especially bitter for Wakamotoharu, who needed a simple kachi-koshi to join his brother in Juryo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Akiseyama – In the mean time, Juryo promotion candidate Ichiyamamoto visits sumo’s 2nd highest division to try his skill against Akiseyama, who is in need of a couple more wins to secure his Juryo spot in July. So this could in effect be an “exchange bout” -lksumo.

Wakatakamoto vs Shonannoumi – It’s Onami brother madness, with all 3 of them on the dohyo today. Sadly, Wakatakamoto shares his brother’s make-koshi result for Natsu, and will find himself pushed down the banzuke in July. The only prior match with Shonannoumi was last year during Natsu, and Wakatakamoto prevailed.

Naya vs Bushozan – Naya is possibly going to join the Makushita joi for Nagoya, and this 5-1 bracket match will decide the magnitude of his promotion. No matter who wins this one, there will be a good chance of a Naya vs Bushozan rematch in 2 months time.

Terunofuji vs Daishozen – A Sandanme 5-1 match. The disappointment was evident on Terunofuji’s face when he stumbled to his only defeat on day 8 against Sd51w Daishosei. Today’s opponent, Daishozen, is tiny compared to Terunofuji. I am going to look for another stand-up tachiai, grab-and-toss kimarite today.

Shoji vs Koshinoryu – This 3-3 “Darwin Match” will see the winner get their kachi-koshi and the loser relegated to demotion with a make-koshi. This is their first ever match, and we will be hoping for some solid sumo from Shoji, who may soon have Wakaichiro chasing him.

Kitanowaka vs Chiyooume – While I am sure he is disappinted to not be fighting for the Jonokuchi yusho, Kitanowaka is blasting his way out of sumo’s lowest division no matter what. A win today would likely seal his rank into the lower quartile of Jonidan for the sweat-box that is Nagoya.

Hattorizakura vs Nangu – They found someone with an 0-6 recored for Hattorizakura to face! Poor Nangu has been kyujo since the start of the basho, but comes back for his final match: against sumo’s wagoto mainstay. Congrats Nangu on your impending win!