Thursday, June 7, 2007

Behind the Curtain - September 2001

This Aki basho only one sumotori will be awarded the privilege to move up the sumo pyramid and step out from behind the curtain. This is because the entire lower Juryo division managed to get kachi-koshi at the Nagoya basho.

But first, for one man to step in front of the curtain, to the Juryo rank, then one man must step behind the curtain, if not retire from sumo all together. In this instance it is the former, Kinkaiyama, at Juryo 6, did not get enough wins, 2-13, to remain in the paid ranks. What is telling is that he won with the same technique both times, hatakikomi, or slap down. It would appear he won from his opponent’s over aggressive taichiai, more than his skill set, which further justifies his demotion.

Kinkaiyama-zeki made his Juryo debut back in January 1998. He even made it to Makunouchi on July of the same year. In addition, he is only 25 years old, so we can be expected him to return to the salaried ranks quite soon.

With Kinkaiyama returning to the daily duties of someone tsukebito at Dewanoumi-beya, he will most likely Oginishiki’s attendent next basho, our next question is obvious. Which lucky sumotori becomes a sekitori when the banzuke is released? That sumotori, soon to be a sekitori, again, is Kasuganishiki of Kasugano stable.

Kasuganishiki is no stranger to be in front of the curtain. As recent as this year’s Osaka basho, he was ranked at Juryo 10, but only managed a 5-10 record, to be sent back down to Makushita. Last basho in Nagoya he posted a respectable 5-2 from Makushita 4. We didn’t get much of a sample of how Kasuga will handle the Juryo-ranked wrestlers, he only fought one sekitori from his Makushita rank, that was Kotokanyu, who he beat by hikiotoshi, or hand pull down. Kasuga favors tsukitaoshi, or frontal thrust down, along with extra heaps of tsuppari, or slapping. You can’t knock a good tsuppari attack, which was a favor technique of former Yokozuna Akebono.

You may not recognize it from his shikona, or fighting name, but Kasuganishiki has some well-known senpai in his stable - Tochinohana, Tochinonada, and Tochisakae. This makes Kasuga the 4th sekitori-ranked wrestler of Kasugano Oyakata, who is better known to the old time sumo fans as Yokozuna Tochinoumi, the 49th Yokozuna.

Who was left behind the curtain? Azumazeki-beya’s hanagashira, Tamamisakari put together a 4-3 at Makushita 3 but did not get called up, again since no one at the bottom of Juryo posted a losing record. This is sad since many fans enjoy his “Robo-Cop” like antics. Another sumotori that missed the cut due to the all the kachi-koshi at the bottom of Juryo division was Tamanokuni, who from Makushita 2 posted a 4-3 record at Nagoya. They is no doubt that if two Juryo-ranked wrestlers close to the bottom of their division decide to cooperate and post losing record, we will see these boys back behind the curtain on Fukuoka!

Kawika ©

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