Preview of North American Sumo Wrestlers in the Natsu Basho 2019 – Musashikuni and Wakaichirō

The Natsu Basho 2019 is now up in the air!  After Hakuho announced that he would be sitting this one out, it is anyone’s game to get the yusho.  It seems that the favorites are the other yokozuna, Kakuryu, as well as the current ozeki, Goeido, Takayasu, and Takakeisho; however, it seems that a lot of fans are starting to get excited for Ichinojo.  I could see any of these winning it all, along with Mitakeumi thrown into the mix.

Also, Makuuchi got a little bit more exciting with Enho receiving his promotion to the top division.  Can he continue with his string of kachi-koshi?  Or will he dip back down to juryo, much like he did the first time he reached juryo?  Either way, he may be the one that I am looking forward to watching the most.

Last basho, Musashikuni Mamu came so close again to the kachi-koshi, posting a 3-4 record. He slipped down seven spots to makushita 49 east.  Wakaichirō Ken also came so close to the kachi-koshi with a 3-4 record.  This saw him drop about 20 ranks to jonidan 19 east.  Below is a chart of their career rankings, and you can click here to open a full-size version.  Even further below, I discuss expectations for Musashikuni and Wakaichirō in the Natsu Basho 2019.  As always, please email us at if you have any questions, comments, or article requests!

Natsu Basho 2019 North American Rikishi Progression

Musashikuni Mamu and the Natsu Basho 2019

In the Haru basho, Musashikuni looked extremely strong whenever he committed to an attack.  His thrusts were on-point and pushed his opponents out with ease.  His lifts were powerful and gave him the victory without breaking a sweat.  On the other hand, Musashikuni looked weaker when he did not commit to an approach.  In some matches, it seemed that he tried to take whatever came to him rather than making a path for victory himself.  I am not an expert in sumo by any means, but I feel that someone with the size and strength of Musashikuni should be able to execute his own gameplan rather than react to his opponent’s moves.  Below is an example of Musashikuni willing with his power last basho:

Musashikuni Mamu Match 1 - Haru Basho 2019

And here is an example of Musashikuni losing by reacting to his opponent:

Musashikuni Mamu Match 3 - Haru Basho 2019

So what does Musashikuni need to do to win?  Well, more than anything he needs to be healthy.  His ankle has been causing some issues for himself, and every rikishi has a dozen other nagging injuries.  Aside from his health, Musashikuni needs to start taking grasp of his own destiny.  He has the size, power, and skills.  He needs to start imposing himself on his opponents, which we see in flashes during every basho.  I know this is much easier than it sounds,  but I believe that Musashikuni has it in him to win with ruthless aggression.

I expect Musashikuni to have a 5-2 record in the Natsu Basho 2019.  Musashikuni excels in the lower portion of makushita, and I think that this basho will be no different.

Wakaichirō Ken in the Natsu Basho 2019

Wakaichirō almost stayed in sandanme last basho, but fell short at the end.  I think that Wakaichirō  will get one – if not two – kachi-koshi in sandanme this year, as this division sees to have roughly equal competition for Wakaichirō’s size and skills.  With that being said, Wakaichirō is typically stronger, more agile, and more skillful than most his opponents in jonidan.  This allows him to win with ease using his typical approaches.

For example, here is a gif from last basho where Wakaichirō was able to use his typical thrusting approach for a solid victory – even in sandanme.

Wakaichiro Ken Match 1 - Haru Basho 2019

But, here is an example of a larger sandanme rikishi being able to withstand his power attack.

Wakaichiro Ken Match 2 - Haru Basho 2019

What does Wakaichirō need to do to succeed during this basho?  Well, he just needs to do his thing.  He has shown time and time again that he is better than the jonidan division, but he keeps getting bumped back down from sandanme due to losing records.  Wakaichirō just needs to execute this typical gameplan this time – nothing fancy.

At the same time, it may be beneficial for Wakaichirō to try out a wider array of techniques.  He is still learning, and the stakes are low in the jonidan division.  If Wakaichirō is able to pick up some new tricks here, it could help him advance further in the sandanme division.  Of course he wants to win, so I don’t blame him if he uses the same approach every time until it doesn’t work.

I again predict that Wakaichirō will have a 5-2 record, and he will be in sandanme again after the Natsu Basho 2019!

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