Last basho, I started off with an eye towards the M1 Crux. Neither M1 disappointed. Homasho managed to get a promotion to Komusubi and Okinoumi gets another chance to prove himself in the M1 Crux over the first few days of this basho. He shares that honor with Goeido. I’ll leave those stories to the daily reporters this basho.
My focus on the first few days of this basho will be down at the bottom of the banzuke. I will be cheering for Kimurayama and Aoiyama this basho.
Kimurayama was looking good in the pocket last basho. I am hoping to see a strong crux performance out of him this basho. I don’t know if it will happen yet, but the wild swings that often happen for newly promoted Makuuchi rikishi have calmed down for him and he is steadily defending his turf down there at the bottom of the banzuke.
As I looked at Kimurayama’s Crux/Pocket Performance last basho, he strikes me as a rikishi on the verge. You’ll notice that he had a very solid pocket performance, and you will also notice the stars next to the names of many of the rikishi he faced. Those stars mean that it was difficult for me to decide if they belonged in his crux or his pocket (because their bout history was so short or because their bout history was so evenly matched)
Crux (1-6): Tenkaiho*, Daido*, Kitataiki, Tosyutaka*, Takarafuji, Asasekiryu*, Kokkai*
Pocket (6-2): Tamawashi*, Wakakoyu*, Aminishiki*, Tamaasuka, Yoshiazuma*, Shotenro*, Takanoyama*, Hochiyama
I will also be watching Aoiyama who is a freshman Makuuchi member. Aoiyama doesn’t get a crux/pocket report this time because he jumped up to Makuuchi from way down at Juryo 6 after spending just two basho in Juryo. He will be a lot of fun to watch in the coming tournament. Valentine is likely rising just as fast as Aoiyama seeing as Aoiyama is Valantine’s pick for Rikishi on the Bubble.
In addition to Kimurayama and Aoiyama, I will be watching Tsurugidake, Shohozan, and Sadanofuji. I consider all three of these rikishi cannon fodder, but I am hoping to be surprised. Here is a little about each.
Tsurugidake joins Aoiyama as fresh meat in the Makuuchi. He rises from Juryo 2. I would say that he is a name to remember, but there is no point to that seeing as the man is more likely than not to change his name by the time I am done writing this.
Shohozan is yet another Makuuchi newbie. He comes to us from Juryo 5. In his most recent stint, he has sped through Juryo in a mere two bashos, but unlike Aoiyama, Shohozan is more of the Rikishi on the Bounce than he is on the Bubble. He goes up and down more than an old man using faulty Viagra. We’ll have to see how he fares in Makuuchi.
Sadanofuji can’t be called a Makuuchi newbie yet. I think he just lost his way on the way to the bathroom and somehow found himself in the Makuuchi banzuke. He comes to us with a losing record in Juryo (54-66). I don’t expect to see much out of him this basho.