The Kyusho Basho has come and gone, time to take a look at what is happening at the curtain of sumo, the barrier separating the have's from the have-not's, the line between Makushita (behind the curtain) and Juryo (10 Ryo which was the salary of a Sekitori at this rank was at one time).
As always there are winner and losers, those who move up the banzuke from Makushita, those who move down the banzuke from Juryo, it is meritocracy at it's best. With Mainoumi going intai (retirement from the dohyo), this opens up one more slot for some lucky kachi-koshi (major wins) Makushita Sumotori to become a Juryo Sekitori. Which bottom-feeders of Juryo had a bad enough record to be sent back behind the curtain?
Juryo No. 13 Tamarikido looks likely to step back behind the curtain for the Hatsu Basho in Tokyo on January 2000. He finished the Kyushu basho with a record of 6-9. Tama has been in Juryo for two basho now. He won the right to move up to Juryo when he got a 5-2 record at the Nagoya 1999 basho. This guy has the right stuff to return to Juryo for the March basho in Osaka, so we will see him back in front of the curtain sooner than later.
Juryo No. 11 Towanoyama had an awful basho in Kyushu walking away with a 3-12 record. Towa moved up to Juryo with one of those perfect 7-0 records. If a Sumotori ranked in the top 15 levels of Makushita wins all 7 of his bouts, he is automatically prompted to Juryo. Since that 7-0 record he earned in March 1999 at Osaka, Towa went 8-7, 8-7, 6-9, and his recent 3-12. Again, here is a guy only 22 years old and all the right tools to return
to Juryo, barring a major injury.
The winners moving into Juryo from Makushita ought to be three Sumotori, due in part to Mainoumi's retirement.
Makushita No. 2 Kato from Azumazeki stable with a 6-1 record at Kyusho basho will definitely be one of the new Sekitori stepping up to Juryo. Kato will change his skikona, or fighting name, from Kato to Takamimori. He is the second Sekitori following Kotomitsuki among the three rikishi that entered sumo before the Haru Basho earlier this year from Nichidai. Nichidai is a college with a well-known sumo power-house club. Watch for the kanji characters for Nichidai on the kesho-mawashi, the silk aprons worn during the dohyo-iri, one those Sekitori from the college. You will be surprise how many there are. Note that the last of the three from Nichidai, Takahama of Oitekaze stable and ranked Makushita 14, went 4-3 at the Kyushu Basho. Takamimori's (previously Kato) entry to Juryo will mark the first time that Yokozuna Akebono has had a Sekitori stable-mate since Daiki in 1995.
Both Makushita No. 1, Wakakosho and Aminishiki have had consecutive 4-3 records for at least the last 3 basho. They will both be prompted to Juryo. It happens that Aminishiki's father is the cousin of Ajigawa Oyakata, former Yokozuna Asahifuji. Also Aminishiki's younger brother, Asofuji, was 5-2 at Kyushu, ranked at Makushita No. 31.
On the Musashigawa stable side of things, Makushita No. 3 Buyuzan dropped the ball with a 3-4 record at Kyushu. His previous two basho he got 5-2 and 4-3 respectively. Shiro Kumo of the Sumo ML saw Buyuzan in action during his visit to the Kyushu basho. His words, "Buyuzan is for real, we will be seeing him in Makuuchi before too long." So it looks like another possible Sekitori will join the members of the new Musashigawa "factor."