Last week the Sumo association announced that along with Kakuryu’s official bump up to Ozeki there will be 4 new faces in juryo come Natsu. Well, only two of those faces are really new – Tokushoryu and Homarefuji are making a comeback to juryo that in all honesty no one thinks is going to last. On a more exciting note, both Sakumayama and Masakaze are making their first ever debut in the second-highest division come May. Coincidentally, both of them are already record holders. Masakaze, a 28-year old out of the Oguruma Stable, holds the prestigious record of 4th slowest rise to sekitori-status, while Jokoryu, the artist formerly known as Sakumayama, is tied for the fastest rise to Juryo at 6 basho-a record he holds with Tosayutaka and Itai. If he wants to stay in the record books he has to make his way up to Makuuchi within the next 4 tournaments to beat Aran and Kotooshu’s record rise of 11 tournaments.
After getting the word that he was headed to Juryo, Jokoryu transferred to the inexplicably-re-established Kise Stable. You may remember the Kise Stable was dissolved and its wrestlers folded into the kitaonumi stable after Kise-Oyakata was demoted because of the Yakuza scandal of 2010 (so many scandals to keep track of). Although I can’t say much for the others that got promoted along with him, I think that at 23 Jokoryu has what it takes to probably get up to Sekiwake status and give the top guys a run for their money for a few years before getting a bad knee injury and having to call it quits just before 30. You heard it here first.
With six wrestlers occupying the second-highest rank in the next basho, you can be sure that one of two things is going to happen-either all of the Ozeki start a mad rush for Yokozuna, or a lot of favors start getting traded around to make sure no one has to face kadoban. Personally I think that the favor trading is somewhat inevitable, but I would really like to see it limited to Kotooshu going around to the others saying, “Come on, don’t make me beg. I’m not going to beg. Ok I’m begging now, but don’t expect an under-the-table handjob from me. Goddamit, fine. ”
In other news everyone favorite cigar-store-indian/bowing-expert Homasho is scheduled to appear in the NHK historical Drama, “Taira Kiyomori” along with 5 other rikishi from the Shikoroyama-beya. This marks the first time that a current wrestler has made an appearance on the long-running Japanese historical drama series. Leave it to Homasho to humbly accept the offer, saying that being the first ever current rikishi cast was, “truly an honor.” Suck-up.
The wrestlers have apparently been given training in how wrestlers back in the day looked and fought, and are said to be dressed for the part as well, appearing in the much skimpier fundoshi instead of mawashi. For his part, Homasho has said that it is a new experience for him as he hasn’t acted since he played the part of a corrupt bureaucrat in a play back in elementary school.