Hello Tachiai readers. Hohisashiburi! Today, not many of the big names of the lower divisions were in play – there’s going to be a big burst of them tomorrow – but still, I collected several bouts for you, including three loose themes:
Bruce’s “Ones To Watch”
Wrestlers of past glory trying to work their way back
Some readers are wondering – what is a “Joi-Jin”? In general, it’s the top 10 or so ranks of any lower division, and in the case of Makushita for Nagoya, it’s jam-packed with some rather potent rikishi. Some of them are veterans pushing hard to return to sekitori status, others are up and coming youngsters fighting their way up the banzuke. As we have said before on Tachiai, the top end of Makushita, especially during week 2, is where some of the most flat out, 110% sumo takes place. We expect Nagoya, given who is in the joi for Makushita, to be especially frantic.
It’s important to note that unlike the top 2 divisions, matches go by pairing rikishi who have the same record for all 7 of their matches. So after the first match, all of the 1-0 will fight other 1-0, and all of the 0-1 rikishi will pair off with other 0-1 fighters. This narrows down the 100-200 strong divisions into a workable yusho elimination bracket by match 6 or so in most cases. Because of the vigorous competition in the Makushita joi, many of its members count themselves blessed if they can simply exit the basho with kachi-koshi (4 wins). Lets take a look at who is in the joi this time.
There are quite a few notables here
Seiro – Long time Juryo mainstay Seiro finds himself the top man in Makushita after a 7-8 make-koshi at Juryo 14. A simply 4 wins will put him back in a kesho-mawashi for September. Irodori – A 6-9 in his Juryo debut in May put him back in Makushita, like Seiro, he needs both a kachi-koshi and some poor performance at the bottom of the Juryo banzuke to return. Daiseido – After finishing 3-12 at Osaka, he dripped out of Juryo far enough down into Makushita that 5-2 finish at Natsu could take him no higher than Makushita 2. Hoshoryu – Some readers get frustrated when we mention this, but this fellow is in fact former Yokozuna Asashoryu’s nephew. He has been plugging away with excellent speed / agility sumo, and he’s on the cusp now of a promotable rank. This guy, if he can stay healthy, is likely a future star. Churanoumi – Former Nihon University athlete, he’s won 3 yusho (including a 7-0 Makushita yusho in Osaka) and already been in Juryo twice. Chiyootori – Long-serving Maegashira, he has been plagued by injuries and is now fighting to try to return to the salaried ranks. At one point in 2018, he was ranked in Sandanme, but has been fighting back. Wakamotoharu – After a Makushita yusho in January, and a 5-10 debut as a sekitori in Osaka, this Onami brother is outside the range to likely be promoted with a simple kachi-koshi, he’s going to have to run up the score. Chiyonokuni – Did you wonder where Makuuchi mainstay Chiyonokuni ended up after he brutally injured his knee? Right here, in the briar patch. A healthy Chiyonokuni can take these guys to the cleaners, but I am going to guess he is lucky to be at 75%. It could get ugly. Naya – Another young, up and coming rikishi from a sumo family, he has been on a slower upward trajectory than his rival Hoshoryu, but his sumo is coming to gether very well. He’s not at a promotable rank unless something crazy happens, but his last 2 tournaments featured 6-1 records. Akua – I have to admit, I really like Akua’s sumo. I want to see him march ahead on the banzuke, but his accumulated injuries seem to have capped his performance. Kototebakari – Another young man on a rocket ride up the banzuke, this 19 year old rikishi from Chiba has only had one make-koshi in his professional sumo career.
As you can see, even looking into a handful of these rikishi, there is a lot of talent, and a lot of drive to win. It’s going to be tough staying up to watch the top Makushita matchs, but I suspect for Nagoya, there may be a lot of great sumo action to follow from this group.
Another day of sumo in the books, and we are having our somewhat haphazard stroll through bouts in the lower divisions – ones to watch, and ones to take a surreptitious peek at.
We start with our gigantic friend, Toma, the road roller from Miyagino beya, who meets Ienoshima from Yamahibiki beya today:
Toma improves his way towards kachi-koshi.
Next up, famous Kitanowaka, here vs. Oba:
Kitanowaka’s legs look ridiculously longer than Oba’s. And he seems to have a bit of a koshi-daka issue (that is, he keeps his ass too high). But a win is a win.
Finally, we keep monitoring Toma’s steamrolled victim, Ito. Here against Sawanofuji from Isegahama:
Ito is in the Jonokuchi yusho race.
I asked for Toshonishiki footage, I got Toshonishiki footage. But alas, I didn’t get one of Toshonishiki winning. He suffers his first loss:
He loses not so much because of that ridiculous body size but because of a mistake that leaves him with his back to Tochikamiyama, who doesn’t miss the opportunity.
Shiraishi, the Sandanme tsuke-dashi from Tamanoi beya, continues his formidable performance:
No blinking. Fujisawa goes from tachiai to loss in one swoop.
Roga is facing Kototora. That is, a wolf faces a tiger.
The tiger nearly drives the wolf to the edge. After that Roga becomes a lot more careful, and manages to secure his third win.
I told you yesterday that Yoshoyama is doing well this basho, and managed to thoroughly jinx the poor Mongolian. Here he is, facing Hokutowaka:
Oops, sorry for the jinx, Tokitsukaze man.
Finally, if you want to see someone who is gaining self assurance from day to day and may well find himself back in the limelight come senshuraku, look no further than Amakaze, here against Tsugaruumi:
His tachiai is not something to write home about, though.
Let’s start with Kyokusoten, who is having a really nice basho. Kyokusoten, if you recall, is Tamawashi’s brother-in-law, a tsukebito for hire (most recently Kakuryu’s), and a generally amiable fella.
At this rate he may find himself in the Makushita purgatory before long.
Take a look at Michael – the name in Japanese is “Maikeru”, which is rendered in kanji as “dance-kick”. He used to be Futagoyama’s pride until Roga showed up, but the competition within doesn’t seem to faze him:
He is now 5-0 and part of the Makushita yusho race.
We move on to the Makushita pixie, Midorifuji, who is facing the very popular Takakento (all Takas are popular):
Midorifuji, kind of like Enho’s bout today, is saved mostly by his speed and some luck avoiding the edge.
Next we move to some of our serious “Ones To Watch”, and first, a meeting between Ryuko and Kotokamatani. Both 3-1 coming into this bout.
Ryuko secures a tight morozashi, and manages to lift Kotokamatani out. Kotokamatani will have to wait for his kachi-koshi yet another day.
Hoshoryu faces Ichiyamamoto. Both 2-2 going into this match:
Ah… his hand touches the ground, and there is no recovery for the young Mongolian. Could he be on his way to his first Make-koshi? I’m sure he is going to get that angry phone call from his uncle soon.
Finally, we have Naya, the prince of Makushita. He faces Tsukahara, who is himself a “One To Watch”, with past championships in Jonokuchi and Jonidan:
Fierce tsuppari, followed by a wide pull, and Naya keeps himself in the yusho race.