Mid-Hatsu Basho 2019 Review – Musashikuni, Wakaichiro, and Others

Well, the primary story-line of the basho has concluded – Kisenosato has retired.  Everyone seemed to have very strong opinions about his situation.  Should he have retired sooner?  Should he have not retired altogether?  Did he deserve yokozuna status?  Did he not?  Is he overrated?  Is he underrated?  Personally, I was one of the few that did not have strong feelings about him, so I am just glad that people can move on from the same ‘ol conversation.  Below is the final match of Kisenosato’s career.  A little bit of a bummer that he went out with a wimper rather than a bang, but sometimes your body gives out on you. . .

kisenosato final match - hatsu basho 2019

Otherwise, the new story-lines seem to be everyone getting injured or (possibly) dropping the ball!  Kakuryu, Tochinoshin, and Mitakeumi were forced to withdraw from the basho.  The former two after poor performances, and the latter one after injuring his knee.  It seemed like Mitakeumi was going to challenge for the yusho (win), so I am particularly bummed out about that one.  Otherwise, it seems like Takayasu, Takakeisho, and Ichinojo may have already fell too far behind to realistically get the yusho.  Of course, Hakuho is still undefeated in this basho, but he has looked a lot more human than normal.  He may slip behind, allowing any of these three to catch up. . .or someone further down to step up in a major way.  Maybe Onosho or Kaisei?

As for the two North American rikishi (sumo wrestlers), it has been a tale of two cities.  Below, I discuss the performance of Musashikuni and Wakaichiro, followed by a brief highlight of other lower-division rikishi.  If you’d like to see anything else about this basho, please contact me at NorthAmericanSumo@Gmail.com.  Also, don’t forget to follow @NorthAmericanS5 on Twitter for real-time updates of the basho.


Musashikuni Mamu

Musashikuni has struggled so far this basho, going 0-3 in his first three matches.  I expected the jump in competition to be difficult for Musashikuni, as he went from makushita 53 to 36, but I did not expect it to be this difficult.  Nevertheless, Musashikuni had a five-match winning streak in the last basho, so it is not outside the realm of possibilities for him to still get the kachi-koshi. . .although it would be tough!

Name

Rank

Current Record

Result

Method

Kototsubasa Shotaro

35 West

3-0

Loss

Oshidashi

Irie
Masato

34 West

1-2

Loss

Watashikomi

Okinofuji
Kazuya

38 West

1-2

Loss

Yoritaoshi

Musashikuni Mamu Match 1

musashikuni mamu hatsu basho 2019 - match 1

Musashikuni Mamu Match 2

musashikuni mamu hatsu basho 2019 - match 2

Musashikuni Mamu Match 3

musashikuni mamu hatsu basho 2019 - match 3

Musashikuni’s tachiai has been relatively ineffective during this basho.  I don’t know if that is because the higher-ranked competition is better at absorbing it, or whether he isn’t executing it as well as usual.  Likewise, during the last basho, Musashikuni was doing much better at lifting his opponents at the edge of the dohyo.  In many cases, he was even avoiding the toss and just going straight for the lift.  In this basho, he isn’t doing as well at getting his opponents off the ground.  It seems that he is getting his hips too high.  If you watch all three matches, his mawashi is higher than his opponent’s mawashi.  This makes it much more difficult to lift his opponent off the ground, and it also allows his opponents to more easily toss Musashikuni.

Of course, Musashikuni can bounce back from his 0-3 start.  I originally predicted that he would have a 4-3 record.  I never want to bet on a make-koshi for a North American rikishi, so I will stick with this prediction.  I also believe that he can do it!


Wakaichiro Ken

Wakaichiro has been the complete opposite.  He has looked strong, powerful, agile, and skillful.  His current record after three matches is 3-0.  Such a wonderful performance so far!  He is showing that he is clearly above his current rank, which I predicted before this basho started.  Nice to see that I sometimes get my predictions correct!

Name

Rank

Current Record

Result

Method

Tochinoshima Masaki

36 West

2-1

Win!

Oshidashi

Miyakogawa Hiromitsu

35 West

1-2

Win!

Yoritaoshi

Fudano
Hiromi

33 East

2-1

Wn!

Oshitaoshi

Wakaichiro Ken Match 1

wakaichiro ken hatsu basho 2019 - match 1

Wakaichiro Ken Match 2

wakaichiro ken hatsu basho 2019 - match 2

Wakaichiro Ken Match 3

wakaichiro ken hatsu basho 2019 - match 3

As you can see, Wakaichiro has gotten the better start in each of his matches.  His tachiai has been stronger, putting his opponents immediately off balance.  In his first match, he simply out powered his opponent.  In his second match, he showed more tenacity than his opponent.  Although Wakaichiro was put in a terrible position during that match, he showed a lot of heart by never giving up.  He worked his way out of certain defeat and pushed ahead for victory.  In his third match, Wakaichiro used his uncanny agility to avoid the pushout and then out-muscle his opponent.  A really good and multi-talented showing for Wakaichiro so far.

At the beginning of this basho, I predicted that Wakaichiro would go 5-2.  I think Wakaichiro has a chance to do even better, but I don’t want to jinx anything or ask for too much.  I am happy with his performance so far, and I just hope that he keeps up the great work.


Other Lower-Division Rikishi

  Here are some notes about other lower-division rikishi that I have been following:

  • One of my favs, Aminishiki, hasn’t been doing too well.  He is 1-6, and he has been trying to pull the same move almost every match.  I wonder if he is injured or just tired.
  • Enho has been a mix of incredible. . .and not so incredible.  He is 4-3.  His wins have been some of the most exciting wins ever; his losses have been less than inspiring.
  • Gagamaru has been looking so much better than I imagined that he would, going 4-3 so far.  He is still the strongest head-on competitor in juryo, and he has been more agile than usual.  I wonder if bouncing back from makushita has put a little pep in his step?
  • I think that Ura has finally reached some competition that is competitive for him.  He is currently 2-1, but his second win was very difficult for him.  I wonder if the ring rust is finally showing or whether he is starting to get more wear and tear since coming back.
  • Lastly, one of the matches that I looked forward to the most was between the up-and-comers of Kizakiumi and Hoshoryu.  I expect both of these rikishi to be in juryo sooner rather than later, as both have been dominating the lower divisions.  So, it was fun to see their first head-to-head contest of hopefully many.  Gif below:

kizakiumi vs hoshoryu - hatsu basho 2019

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