A quick update on the lower divisions for day 7, another roster full of action. Day 6 action saw Amakaze, Terunofuji and Naya bring in white stars.
Akua vs Toyohibiki – Former Makuuchi mainstay Toyohibiki takes on Akua, as the next stop on Akua’s drive to return to Juryo. Toyohibiki has struggled since going kyujo from Juryo in Hatsu 2018.
Midorifuji vs Kototebakari – A 2-1 bracket match, compact powerhouse Midorifuji will face fast rising star Kototebakari from Sadogatake heya. Kototebakari has been in professional sumo for 8 basho, and has been on a rapid upward ascent. Given their size and sumo style, this could be a barn-burner match.
Musashikuni vs Takaryu – Like Musashikuni, Takaryu rose quickly into Makushita, and has been trying to find a way past “the wall”. This 2-1 bracket will see who advances, and who will struggle to get to kachi-koshi this tournament.
Naya vs Kotoryusei – This 3-0 bracket match does in fact have Makushitia yusho implications. The winner will take home a kachi-koshi on day 7 (quite a feat) and advance to the increasingly narrow yusho contender group. Naya continues to look strong, confident and absolutely sure of his sumo.
Shoji vs Hagane – A 1-2 bracket match, Musashigawa’s Shoji will be fighting to pick up his second win, and pull even for the tournament.
Wakaichiro vs Kotourasaki – Our Texan sumotori will be facing Sandanme 100 Kotourasaki from Sadogatake heya. A relative light weight (68kg), he has a Jonidan yusho to his name. After an opening win, Wakaichiro has left the dohyo disappointed for the past 2 matches. A win today would put him even for the tournament.
Terunofuji vs Teraosho – After dispatching the gargantuan Sakaefuji on day 6, Terunofuji is 3-0 for Haru, and faces a long serving lower division rikishi, Teraosho. Thus far, Terunofuji seems to be maintaining his knees well, even against truly massive opponents.
Here is little Chiyotaiyo again. Unfortunately, he demonstrates to us why he is likely to stick in Jonidan for a long while – maybe even a year – despite his talent. Here he is vs. Goketsuyama.
By the way, I would say the length of his hair indicates a chon-mage by senshuraku. But maybe that’s just because of his proportions.
Bruce already brought you the Ura video. To that, I can add Torakio vs. Shoketsu:
This is actually a very good bout. Starts with a tsuppari. Torakio gets a morozashi, then loses one hand, still tries to push Shoketsu out, but Shoketsu reverses him and pushes him out.
Torakio, though, is still a sore loser. There was a distinct shove there at the end. Torakio out of the sandanme yusho race.
Then there is Kototekbakari vs. Inoe:
Nice attempt at a trip, but this was Kototebakari’s win by kotenage.
There were a number of fine bouts in Makushita today, but the only individual bout I have is – who else – Hoshoryu, here vs. Tanabe:
What doesn’t work with tsuppari and doesn’t work with yori, works with hineri. Not one of Hoshoryu’s most powerful matches, but he is still in the Makushita yusho race, which also features names like Sokokurai, Chiyootori, Wakamotoharu, the older Taka twin, and a bit surprisingly, Kyokusoten.
Because Kisenosato has gone kyujo, once again a Juryo wrestler has to fill in at Makuuchi, and therefore, a Makushita wrestler has to fill in at Juryo. Today we start with Toyohibiki, 0-3 before this match.
Shimanoumi may have been distracted by the fact that he is the only man in Juryo so far to have defeated Enho, as well as that bad balance Toyohibiki came into this bout with. But it’s the Makushita rikishi who takes about one second to sweep Shimanoumi off the dohyo.
Chiyonoumi, with a worrying 1-4, enters this match with Gokushindo, who seems to continue the same strategy as yesterday – stalling and keeping his opponent at arm’s length. Chiyonoumi tries everything in his tsuki-oshi arsenal, and eventually enters a leaning contest with Gokushindo. Gokushindo relies on two pillars for legs and trusts in his stance, but Chiyonoumi eventually manages to pull him down for a very precious second win.
Tobizaru enthusiastically rains tsuppari at Tomokaze’s chest. Tomokaze, somehow, doesn’t look too impressed. Waits a bit for Tobizaru to spend all the bullets in his magazine, and then gives him three or four shoves out. This is Tobizaru’s first loss this tournament, and now nobody in Juryo is zensho.
After winning a lengthy stamina bout yesterday, Toyonoshima loses a short one today. Azumaryu tries to catch his mawashi, decides it’s too low for him, and just gives him a couple of shoves outside.
Enho’s bout starts, as usual, with a scramble, as Enho throws himself inside and secures his favorite left hand inside grip. Jokoryu can’t defend against the little wasp, but of course he has an excellent outside grip himself. He is stable. It seems that it should be easy to shake Enho off. Well, not if the pixie in the red mawashi has anything to say about that. Which of course he has. Jokoryu tries that throw, and discovers that Enho is… sticky. He lowers his body. He wraps a leg around Jokoryu’s. He is like that small dog who enthusiastically humps your leg and just won’t let go. Enho attempts his throw once, Jokoryu spins around but is still steady. So Enho attempts it a second time, and this time he gets it. Jokoryu floored, Enho has a nosebleed for his troubles. Yet another excellent bout.
Both Chiyonoo and Kyokushuho are 1-4 coming into this day. The two grab each other. Kyokushuho takes a few seconds to assess the situation, then walks the Kokonoe man outside.
Mitoryu and Tsurugisho get good right hand inside grips on each other, lean for a while, and then, as tsurugisho starts maneuvering Mitoryu to the side, Mitoryu pulls him down and drops him to his knees. Sukuinage, and you don’t see it in this footage, but Tsurugisho has a mighty disappointed expression on his face.
Hakuyozan dispatches of Takekaze rather easily. Takekaze keeps a balanced score.
Kyokutaisei doesn’t look like he is on his way back to Makuuchi. Akiseyama pulls him down pretty early off the tachiai.
Terutsuyoshi today opts for a henka. Or is that a HNH? He then follows it up with some strong shoves and Wakatakakage finds himself on the floor. Terutsuyoshi, like Enho, keeps himself in the leader group.
For once, Ishiura wins by a hatakikomi which is not the result of a henka. He go straight forward at the tachiai, and only then pulls and sidesteps.
Hidenoumi manages to slip his right hand inside under Daishoho’s arm. Daishoho applies an ottsuke, then a lock, and they grapple on the other side, when Hidenoumi manages to slip in the second into a morozashi. You’ll then see Daishoho trying the same thing Nishikigi did later to Tochiozan – only a lot less effectively. While Nishikigi knew his ability to hold his armpits locked is limited and immediately stepped forward, Daishoho here delays. Also, his arm lock is not as efficient as his elbows are more open than Nishikigi’s were and Hidenoumi gets a grip on the back of his mawashi. At some point Daishoho even releases and rests his tired arm muscles. Hidenoumi then manages to use that morozashi to effect and walks him over the bales.
The bout between Tokushoryu and Yago starts as an exchange of rhythmic shoves. Then Yago decides he has enough, lands a yotsu hold, and finishes with a classic yori-kiri.
So if you’re short on henkas, and feel you have missed them in the Makuuchi bout, Kotoeko here demonstrates a big, fat henka that has Takagenji rolling his eyes in frustration at the other edge of the dohyo.
Yesterday all my YouTube sources dried up all of a sudden, so I decided to collect the little material that I had from two days. This doesn’t matter much in the divisions below Juryo, as mostly the wrestlers have bouts on alternating days. But it does mean that I’ll have to concentrate on today’s Juryo rather than yesterday’s.
What I have from day 3 are mostly Makushita bouts from the top of the division.
Here is the hottest thing in Isegahama, the back-flipping Tomisakae, vs. Wakamotoharu – that’s Wakatakakage’s slightly older brother (the oldest is Wakatakamoto).
After a matta, Tomisakae drives straight forward and quickly dispatches of the Arashio man. Note that he is then called over by the one of the shimpan and scolded for something. I’m not sure what that would be. Maybe that little jump of glee at the end?
Then we have Sokokurai, who means business. And in this case, it’s a very long business transaction:
Sokokurai has Tokushinho in a morozashi, but Tokushinho is bigger than Sokokurai and gets a soto-yotsu (both hands outside) grip. First he only gets the outer layer of Sokokurai’s mawashi, but then manages to get a hold of the lower layer with his right hand. Sokokurai releases one hand and tries a throw, but it doesn’t work. Tokushino starts forward, but Sokokurai rallies and reasserts his morozashi. Tokushinho, however, starts marching forward again, and Sokokurai is running out of stamina. But he is not the only one. Eventually a little shift and Tokushinho drops to the floor. It’s called a shitatenage, but it was more like an underarm release than an underarm throw.
Here is Tomokaze, facing another rather hot name, Irodori:
Irodori starts the attack, but then Tomokaze changes the direction and puts Iridori between himself and the closest line of bales, where he goes ahead and pushes him. Tomokaze is 2-0 at the moment.
Finally, we have Toyonoshima vs. Toyohibiki:
Those two go back a long way. Most of their past 14 meetings were in Makuuchi.
Toyohibiki goes for the attack, but Toyonoshima does a little dance around and reverses the fates. The ancient one is now 2-0.
Here is the Juryo digest for day three, for those who do not want to miss a single bout, but I am leaving it uncommented:
We start the action in Day 4 with two Jonokuchi bouts. First, we cannot do without Hattorizakura.
Here he meets Takanoryu again. Takanoryu has only ever beaten two other rikishi. One of them twice before. Can you guess who that is?
Hattorizakura tries to stick it on the bales, but his heel goes lower and lower and eventually the shimpan signals to the gyoji that the bout is actually over.
Next up is a bout with a little more talent. It’s my favorite stick insect, the underfed Chiyotaiyo, vs. Hayasaka:
(Extra bout – Akatsuki vs. Kyonosato)
Chiyotaiyo seems to be very popular – gets a lot of calls from the spectators. He launches himself at Hayasaka, grabs an arm, and wins by tottari. My guess is that this time he is not staying in Jonokuchi. 2-0 for the Kokonoe string bean. Feed him, Chiyotaikai!
Up we go to Jonidan, where we have a bout between Tsushida – the Jonokuchi yusho winner from Nagoya, and an expected contender for the Jonidan yusho in Aki – facing the now famous Kasugaryu, Hakuho’s tsukebito, and current yumi-tori performer.
34 years old Kasugaryu is certainly giving Tsushida a run for his money. Nice legwork, and it’s amazing how he manages to survive most of this bout on one foot. But eventually this causes him be turned around and Tsushida shows him the lovely view at the bottom of the dohyo.
Moving up to Sandanme, we have Torakio meeting Matsuda.
Now, this looks completely different than Torakio’s first bout. So I suppose that one should be attributed to ring rust? We’ll see over the coming 10 days. He patiently works his way to Matsuda’s mawashi, and then picks him and leads him to the edge. That really looked like mature sumo.
Now, we move up to Makushita. And we concentrate on its lower part this time. First, what is Naya up to? Here is his bout with Hitachigo:
He suffers a similar kind of setback to that suffered by Ura in his second bout. Now he has virtually lost his chance of a Yusho (well, there have been yusho which were won with 6-1 in Makushita, but it’s relatively rare). No yusho means no shortcuts up the banzuke. If Hoshoryu manages a 7-0, let alone a yusho, he will leave Taiho’s grandson way behind him.
Speaking of Hoshoryu, here is his bout vs. Sadanosato:
Hoshoryu’s style is usually going for the mawashi and attempting a throw – a typical style for Mongolians (Tamawashi a well-known exception). But in this particular bout he chooses to switch to tsuki-oshi. It’s not really forced on him by his opponent. This is a surprising flexibility from someone not yet 20.
OK, we now move up to Juryo, and here is your digest for the day:
Due to Seiro’s kyujo, a rikishi from Makushita is called up to do a Juryo torikumi. It’s the yo-yo, Kizenryu, facing Akua in his retina-damaging shimekomi. This turns out to be a protracted battle, in which both sides are doing their best to deny access to their mawashi. But Akua is again left winless, with nothing to show for his great effort. He is probably going back to Makushita yet again.
Now, if you have watched Kintamayama today, you will have seen that Enho’s bout with Gagamaru came after two very strange mattas. Enho explains:
“I was seriously scared. When we had the matta, my opponent’s face went boiling red. Well, his head was very low, so it was clear that I should go to the right. That was so strong on my mind that before I knew it I found myself flying. It’s the first time in my life I have flown”.
Personally, I was not too enthusiastic about that Hassotobi, having seen its sister being performed over and over again in the Jungyo by Enho’s stablemate, Ishiura. It’s not good sumo and I’m sure Hakuho is not going to proudly tweet about it. But the spectators at the Kokugikan loved it, and Enho made it to the kanto-seishin (the crowd fighting-spirit favorites list). What is he going to do when he gets to Makuuchi and has to face the likes of Chiyomaru, Chiyotairyu and Kaisei?
Azumaryu suffers his first loss with some serious pressure from Tokushoryu.
Chiyonoumi started his comeback after his first loss yesterday. Today he faced Jokoryu (who is the first one I see daring to wear a brown mawashi), and aims some massive thrusts at him. Go, go, Kochi-man.
Tobizaru is also on the mend from his disastrous first two days. He changed his shimekomi, by the way, to something that looks like banana-milk or Badam-milk color.
Mitoryu faces Shimanoumi. Some fierce nodowa and Shimanoumi is pushed away. Mitoryu continues to dominate with 4-0.
Terutsuyoshi, however, had excellent first two days, but has now followed them with two consecutive losses. This time he doesn’t manage to keep his grip as he did in the first day.
Wakatakakage suffers his first loss at the hands of the rebounding Tsurugisho.
Takekaze is doing the push-me-pull-you, and ends up luckily inside the ring.
The Hidenoumi-Takagenji bout seemed pretty simultaneous to me. I expected a torinaoshi, but it went to Hidenoumi. I’m not complaining, mind you.
The Kyokushuho-Meisei bout was fine, but I don’t really get how Meisei made it into the kanto-seishin list.
Yago made the same mistake twice in the same bout. In both cases he tried to pull and failed. He is much better moving forward. He loses too much ground when pulling.
Akiseyama secures a grip and tries to trip the tripper, Arawashi. He also tries to lift him and take him aside. Arawashi shows what he is made of – and keeps his balance perfectly. The way he uses his feet to change his center of gravity is superb.
Aminishiki’s bout was a very short version of “Crime and Punishment”. Daishoho saw his henka and raised him a hatakikomi.
That’s it for day 4. By now, day 5 action has already started in the lower divisions. Hope you enjoyed this collection!
In completing his perfect yusho, Yokozuna Hakuho has made it clear that he is back in form and ready to resume his reign as the dai-Yokozua. It’s been a long, difficult road for Hakuho. After he injured his foot in Nagoya, he chose to miss Aki and undergo an operation to reconstruct his big toe and to fix parts of his knee. The recovery was not easy. The surgery and immobility afterwords had a bigger impact than I am sure he expected. As a result he has been under performing for months.
In that period, we have seen some rikish who would normally be eking out kachi-koshi scores here and there truly excel. This is in part because to top predator (and some of his cohorts) have been under performing, in culling rikishi from the ranks.
You can think of it this way, for Hakuho to get to 15 wins, the rest of Makuuchi had to absorb 15 losses. With Hakuho kyujo, someone else got those 15 wins. Everyone’s score increased. You got to see Kisenosato finally make Yokozuna, you got to see Goeido take a zensho yusho. You got to see Kakuryu rack up (at last) a yusho himself. It’s been a great year without a Hakuho. But now he is back, and he is genki and he is ready to rule once more.
A sign of that include his late pushes after a match have returned, so maybe he feels he is fine and will stay fine, and he is free to be Hakuho the great. This has huge implications for sumo for the next year or two. Specifically the other Yokozuna and anyone wishing to follow Takayasu up the Ozeki trail.
For a long time nobody but Hakuho could yusho. When he is / was healthy he is / was unstoppable. We saw that again here during Natsu. Is he back to that level? He wants you to think he is, to be sure. But is he? Maybe? But it’s clear that the one armed Yokozuna needs a repair job if he wants to contend once more. It would be brutally sad if Kisenosato had to follow Kakuryu into a series of revolving kyujos due to a combination of untreated and unresolved injuries, and a mighty, nearly unbeatable uber-sumotori at the top of the heap.
Chiyonokuni finished 2-13. He’s much better than that, and I think he still has a lot of promise. He just peaked hard when a lot of other sekitori were flailing, and he got caught in a storm of beat downs by everyone. He will recover, he will be back. He’s one to watch.
Okinoumi & Takarafuji finished 3-12. Both are old for rikishi, both have various performance limiting injuries. This is one of the problems with Makuuchi at the moment, its full of guys in their 30s. As a pure meritocracy, it’s full of people who can win, and those that can’t win go away over time. We are in one of those times, but because of the way the banzuke works, it could take a long time before fading veterans make way for the up and coming hard chargers.
Daieisho, Aoiyama, Takekaze, Toyohibiki, Myogiryu & Yutakayama finished 4-11. You might expect there to be a brutal banzuke thump down for these rikishi, but for every down there must be an up. And many of the pressure from the lower ranks you might expect did not materialize due to near absolute parity in Juryo. 13 Juryo wresters ended with 8-7 or 7-8.
Matches That Mattered On Day 15
Ura defeats Daishomaru – Ura does a reverse tachiai. You can rightly ask “what the hell was that?”, but hey! it worked! Was it a henka? No, not really. Was it strange? Yes. I thought I saw Daishomaru smiling and maybe giggling a bit over what had just happened, but then I had already had a glass of sake, so who knows.
Tochinoshin defeats Toyohibiki – Kind of sour ending by back to back henkas from Tochinoshin. I am going to guess he re-injured that mummified knee, and that’s why he henka’d his last two matches.
Ishiura defeats Takekaze – Ishiura gets to be Hakuho’s standard bearer – very happy for Ishiura, he pulled out a kachi-koshi on the last day. He has some work to do, and hopefully a healthy Hakuho can provide some assistance. His deshi needs some upgrades.
Tochiozan defeats Shohozan – Both end with 6-9, both are in the older crowd that is lingering around, due to lack of pressure from Juryo. Don’t get me wrong, Makuuchi is good sumo now, but it could and should be better. But right now Juryo is kind of broken for some reason I have not figured out. There should be a crop of early 20’s rikishi who stand these old guys on their ear daily, but that is not happening.
Hokutofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Hokutofuji joins the joi next basho, I would assume. It will be time to see if the up-and-comer has the mojo to really make a stand against the San’yaku. With a healthy Hakuho, it could be a blood bath again (as the basho were before he was hurt a year ago). Yoshikaze at this point is just running up his personal score. While we fans out side Japan mostly focus on what the NHK video shows us, it’s important to note that inside the sumotori community, everyone loves Yoshikaze, and I predict that once he retires and exercises his kabu, he is going to be a very big deal in sumo management indeed.
Shodai defeats Mitakeumi – Whatever they put in Shodai’s chanko the last few days, do keep it up! Next basho, we get Shodai back in the joi, and it’s bloodbath time for him, too!
Kotoshogiku defeats Ikioi – Well, that was like the Kotoshogiku of old. We should all enjoy it while it lasts. It’s sort of sad to see him fade, but I guess he is still calling his own outcomes, so I praise his persistence. Ikioi is still hit or miss, but then he has been for a while now.
Tamawashi defeats Goeido – Goeido 1.0 came back for old time’s sake. Now that Kadoban is lifted for a few months, he can afford to be unfocused. Please go get rested, ready and strong Goeido. Nothing would confound the critics and delight the fans more than a second basho full of Goeido 2.0. Who knows, you might even convince Hakuho to retire…
Terunofuji defeats Takayasu – I love the Kaiju when he’s on his sumo. Although I am a ginormous Takayasu fan, it was very good to see Terunofuji deploy all of his moves against the man who will be Ozeki. Even to the point of crushing his arms, which we have not seen in some time. People use to be afraid of facing this guy because they would leave the bout hurt. If Kisenosato can be restored to working order, Takayasu will make a great Ozeki. But while he is training on his own (like he was the for the past 2 months) he is vulnerable. The two are a team, and together they will excel.
Hakuho defeats Harumafuji – Kind of one for the ages. It was a great match, especially the series of moves Hakuho used to change the dynamics of the match and get Harumafuji un-stuck and moving backwards. Given Harumafuji’s re-injury to his ankle, I think he put on a hell of a performance. My complements to both men
The end is nigh! Well, for this basho anyhow. It’s been great fun to write like a madman once more, and it’s hard to fathom that just last week I was in Tokyo. The whole thing turned into giant, sumo encrusted jet-lag blur. A very nice blur, but a blur none the less. But now all the clothes I took smell like those tatami mats, and I find I kind of like it. I am also having withdrawal symptoms due to a lack of Katsu Curry, or any real source of soup soba.
Much has been decided, and there are a few interesting things left to resolve. With Kotoshogiku and Takayasu out of Sekiwake, the promotion lanes are finally open again, and it’s a mad dog-pile to see which up-and-comer is going to stand out for a slot as a punching bag in Nagoya.
Then there are the rikishi who are on a knife edge to try and get a kachi-koshi bolted down.
Ishiura (fights Takekaze)
Kaisei (fights Kagayaki)
What’s going to happen in Juryo? Good lord, who knows! Well, actually the Juryo yusho will either be Nishikigi or Aminishiki, by some magic they both ended day 14 with 9 wins, and had not fought each other. I am sure the schedulers were doing high fives. Does Aminishiki get promoted to Makuuchi from Juryo 8 if he takes the Juryo yusho? Does Nishikigi get promoted if he takes the Jun-Yusho? I don’t envy the banzuke team for this one. I suggest the get well drunk, eat a giant box of Takoyaki, and make up something that rhymes.
Matches We Like
Daishomaru vs Ura – Special prize time for Ura? Can he crack 11 wins with some kind of win over Daishomaru? The only other time they fought, Daishomaru took him apart. I am hoping Ura still has a few magic beans left to eat before his match tomorrow.
Tochinoshin vs Toyohibiki – I call shenanigans! Paul Bunyon with 11 wins going against Shin-Juryo Toyohibiki? Ah well, double bonus points for a henka this time. Triple bonus if they do simultaneous henkae (sp?). Ceremonial Tonkatsu helmet for Toyohibiki if he can actually beat him.
Onosho vs Takakeisho – Both contenders for a special prize, winner should be given said prize, loser gets to drive around the streets of Tokyo in a go-kart dressed as a mini-Bowser.
Hokutofuji vs Yoshikaze – As noted there is some kind of weird San’yaku triangle / drinking game going on, and I am pretty sure it’s a good thing. Who gets to be crowned Sekiwake? Well, I am guessing it comes down to who wins matches today. This one should be good, as Hokutofuji is “strong like bull!”, while Yoshikaze is the kind of guy who can win against nearly anyone.
Mitakeumi vs Shodai – Another part of this triangle, will Mitakeumi take Shodai down? I will admit, Shodai has been looking rather solid the last 3 days, is he genki enough to contain Mitakeumi? Mitakeumi wants that Sekiwake slot, he has really been at Tamawashi levels for the last two basho.
Tamawashi vs Goeido – Winner gets double digits, I would love to see Goeido finish with 10 wins, but I am guessing that Tamawashi wants to go out on a win too. Get Goeido 2.0 on the phone, he needs to make an appearance at the Kokugikan today.
Terunofuji vs Takayasu – Time to try on the Ozeki rank one stop early. Hey, Takayasu! Today, move forward, no pulling, no moving backwards. You are one of the best yotsu-zumō around. How about you uncork a bucket of that and let the Kaiju have a whiff of the aroma of Ozeki Takayasu?
Harumafuji vs Hakuho – Well, this one is zensho-yusho. Harumafuji is hurt, but I am sure the rivalry between him and Hakuho will drive him to peak performance. I just hope that he comes out of it in an recoverable condition. Harumafuji is, in my opinion, unique in sumo for the present day. I hope he can stick with us in good condition for a few years more. Oh yes, in his interview today Hakuho looked really very happy. Like I have not seen Hakuho in a long time. It was quite pleasant.