May 2017, Day 11, Yutakayama v Osunaarashi

Osunaarashi has been languishing in the second-tier Juryo division for a while, unable to fully recover from a series of injuries that dropped him from his highest rank of Maegashira 1 in 2015. Already with a makekoshi (losing record) this tournament, he’ll fall farther down the Juryo ranks next time around, where he’ll be joined by Yutakayama, almost certain to drop back down to Juryo due to a makekoshi from his current M16 rank. It’s small consolation for Osunaarashi to earn a victory in today’s bout, but his form still looks suspect. He stands too upright, relying on strength over technique to muscle Yutakayama around and squash him over the edge by yoritaoshi (front crush out). A brief conference of the judges confirms that Yutakayama touched down before Osunaarashi’s foot went out. Watch it again just to see Ishiura seated ringside, with a nifty move of his own to get out of the way of the two crashing giants.

January 2017, Day 15, Osunaarashi v Nishikigi

Osunaarashi’s a tough dude, and he powers through the last day of the tournament despite some clear weakness or injury to his lower body. A gutsy performance sees him hit the ground hard after crushing out Nishikigi with a yoritaoshi, and it’s hard to watch him struggle back to his feet and up the dohyo for the final bow. There’s a woman in the front row with visible concern on her face. Hopefully he can take the time he needs to recover before next tournament, as this victory nets him only his fourth win against eleven losses, and he’s sure to drop down to the Juryo division next tournament.

January 2017, Day 14, Osunaarashi v Ishiura

Osunaarashi has missed parts of the past three consecutive tournaments due to one injury or another, and it looks like he still hasn’t recovered. After a promising 3-0 start, he’s now dropped eleven bouts in a row this tournament, and it seems like he’s got no strength in his lower half. When Ishiura sidesteps him at the tachiai, he can’t stop his forward momentum and ends up standing on the wrong side of the tawara. Ishiura, already with eight losses and trying to prevent too severe a demotion next tournament, picks up his sixth win.

January 2017, Day 4, Osunaarashi v Sadanoumi

If you’re going to sit near the dohyo at a sumo tournament, you make sure your life insurance is up to date. Osunaarashi ends up sprawled across the front two rows of fans, falling to his first loss of the new year after another backpedaling performance that he couldn’t turn around at the last minute. Sadanoumi improves to 4-0, using a strong left-handed belt grip to keep Osunaarashi in front of him despite the desperate throw attempt.

January 2017, Day 2, Chiyootori v Osunaarashi

Osunaarashi wins two in a row to start the January tournament, but he still doesn’t appear to be fully recovered from his latest injury. Neither of his first two opponents are known as being particularly strong, and yet Osunaarashi was driven back fairly easily by both men. Today he relies again on some nifty work with his heels hanging over the edge of the straw bales to save his bacon, using an overarm grip on the left side to squeak out of harm’s way and drop Chiyootori with the uwatedashinage (pulling overarm throw). His competition only gets tougher from here on out, so Osunaarashi will have to show more strength off the tachiai if he wants to remain in Makuuchi for more than one short tournament.

January 2017, Day 1, Chiyoo v Osunaarashi

Welcome back to Tokyo for the start of the January “Hatsu” Basho. Osunaarashi hasn’t had a bout in the top division since May of last year, missing a tournament due to injury and then spending two consecutive tournaments in the lower Juryo division. His opponent on Day 1 is Chiyoo, who is making his top division debut, although the two wrestlers have battled each other in Juryo three previous times. Chiyoo doesn’t show any nerves on the big stage, getting a good grip off the tachiai and taking Osunaarashi right to the edge. But somehow Osunaarashi gets a foothold on the straw and by the tippiest tips of his tippy-toes lifts Chiyoo off the clay and deposits him outside the ring. The winning technique is utchari (backward pivot throw), and Osunaarashi starts his climb back up the Makuuchi division.

May 2016, Day 14, Takekaze v Osunaarashi

You say “flailing,” I say “keeping a shorter opponent at a distance using longer arms until the perfect time to shove him in the ribs.” Potato, potahto. Osunaarashi gets his eighth win.