Stepping out in front of the curtain for the January tourney are 2 new faces to the juryo ranks and 2 returnees. It is nice to see so much activity at the curtain for a change. Most of the wrestlers moving up into the paid ranks are from the same ichimon, or stable group. Wrestlers tend to practice the most with wrestlers from the same ichimon. Wrestlers are encouraged not to hang out with wrestlers from outside their ichimon. Of those sumotori getting promoted, 3 of 4 are from the Takasago ichimon, while the remaining wrestler is from the Nihonoseki ichimon.
Ushiomaru, from former sekiwake Takamiyama's Azumazeki stable, is a first timer to the juryo ranks. Nicknamed "Sano", most likely from his previous shikona, Takamisano, he put together a 5-2 record at Fukuoka from makushita west 1 to get pushed up the banzuke. We have seen Sano the most waiting in the hanamichi for Akebono to finish his bout. It must seem that Sano was Akebono's tsukebito, or attendant, forever. Now he finally gets to put on the silk mawashi after almost 8 years on the dohyo. This will bring Jessie's sekitori count to 2, with Sano joining 'Robocop' aka Takamisakari in the juryo division.
Hokutoriki, from former yokozuna Hokutomi's Hakkaku stable, is our other first timer to the paid ranks. Like Sano, Hokutoriki notched 5 victories against 2 defeats, opposite the banzuke from Sano, at makushita east 1. He will join Kaiho as his stable's two sekitori.
Sumanofuji, from former sekiwake Fujizakura's Nakamura stable, is a returnee and the stable's highest ranking wrestler. He was ranked at makushita east 2 at the last basho, posting 5 wins and 2 defeats. It must be nice for Nakamura oyakata to have a sekitori in his stable again.
Kotokanyu, from former yokozuna Kotozakura's Sadogatake stable, is our other returnee, who has lots of company in the paid ranks from his stable; Kotomitsuki, Kotonowaka, and Kotoryu. To do this, he put together an impressive 6-1 record from makushita west 5.
Who are our unlucky 4 that must be stepping behind the curtain to make room for these wrestlers. Half of them are from the Dewanoumi ichimon and the other half are from the Nihonoseki ichimon, a matter a fact, two are from the same stable.
Wakatsutomu, from former ozeki Wakashimazu's Matsugane stable, is falling like a rock down the banzuke. He started 2001 in makushita, spent half the year ranked in makuuchi, and now he will start next year back in makushita. Wakatsutomu, fighting at juryo east 7, could only manage wins on day 3 and day 4, leaving him with a dreadful 2-13 record. It will be awfully tough to lose all those perks, keisho mawashi, and silk mawashi, and go back to plain black cotton. Let's hope that he can bounce back up the banzuke as fast as he has dropped down.
Wakatoryu, another of Matsugane oyakata's boys, is also stepping back behind the curtain in January. Ranked at juryo east 9 at Fukuoka, he dropped out on day 6, having won 3 bouts, posting a 3-3-9 record.
Yotsukasa, from former sekiwake Tochitsukasa's Irumagawa stable, debuted in front the curtain way back in '98, debuted in makuuchi the following year, and now is booked for a return appearance in makushita for '02. He had a rough tourney, only getting 3 wins and 12 defeats, at juryo east 11
Masutsuyoshi, from former sekiwake Washuyama's Dewanoumi stable, is another wrestler that debuted in juryo back in '98, and like Wakatsutomu, he started 2001 in makushita, but spent the rest of the year in juryo. Now he too will be in makushita for the first basho of 2002. A record of 5-10 at juryo east 13 guaranteed him a slot in the makushita ranks, behind the curtain.