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2015 Aki Pre-basho Report

If Komusubi Tochinoshin were Japanese, he'd be a Yokozuna. He's got that much potential. Unfortunately, he must serve a greater cause which is don't make fools of the Japanese rikishi and don't displace them from their ranks. Cash speaks volumes, so look for Tochinoshin to flirt with eight wins and look awesome in every bout he sets out to win. If there is one dud among the sanyaku, it's our West Komusubi Okinoumi. Dude is simply overmatched at this level, and his work ethic is about as solid as a twenty-something addicted to his Smartphone. I'm not sure who I feel more sorry for this basho...Okinoumi or those live fish swimming in tanks at the front of washoku restaurants who are just waiting for a wooden stake to be driven through them so they can be filleted alive and eaten right there on the spot. Four wins for Okinoumi is being generous.

M1 Aoiyama is our leading Maegashira rikishi, and if he were Japanese, he'd be an Ozeki. The dude is too top heavy to perform at the same level as Tochinoshin, but as is the case with Tochinoshin, he's not out to post as many victories as he can. He's there to help maintain order among the banzuke, and as a result, I seem him falling short this basho with about six wins. When you break it down, chances are slim he'll beat one of the four, so there's four losses right there. Chances are also slim that he'll be allowed to beat more than one Ozeki, so there's two more losses. Stuck with the prospect of six guaranteed losses, he'd have to go 8-1 the rest of the way to score kachi-koshi. It's a tall order when put into those terms, so that's why I say six wins. Across the aisle is Yoshikaze who will fare even worse.

I love Osunaarashi in the M2 rank. Armed with his potent moro-te-zuki tachi-ai, I think he can do some damage in these parts if his body holds up. Still, like Aoiyama he's likely got that six-loss guarantee hovering above his head like a halo, so these guys have really got to perform to score kachi-koshi. Let's give Osunaarashi seven wins in a well-fought basho. Sadanofuji is not up to the task across the way in the M2 West slot.

I like both M3's in Sadanoumi and Takayasu, but I think they've risen about as far as they can go in this division. I don't expect either to flirt with kachi-koshi since they are still part of the jo'i. Each is the stable mate of an Ozeki and won't be obligated to throw that bout, but it's still too much to overcome.

The M4 rank should rule this basho with Ichinojo in the East and Takarafuji in the West. The only guy beneath them that they'd have to worry about is Kaisei, and so these two should make huge runs in September. Look for these guys to score 20 wins or more between them.

Tamawashi is a non-story in the East M5 slot, but Kaisei should excel. Like Ichinojo and Takarafuji, there's no reason why the Brasilian can't flirt with double-digit wins. The story outside of the jo'i will center around these three rikishi.

Aminishiki is a non-factor in the M6 slot just because his body is so broken down. Across the way, Tokushoryu has way more potential, but I don't think he's exceeded the fearsome rank and file threesome in Ichinojo, Takarafuji, and Kaisei. Perhaps Tokushoryu can win eight, but it will take a straight up basho...something I'm not sure he has for the full 15 days.

My previous analogy of the climate change facade fits perfectly with M7 Endoh. To read the Endo hype in the media, you'd think he's the next Elvis Presley, but what has the dude ever done in this division? I've learned, though, over the years that the content of one's sumo doesn't matter; it's all about how it's spun in the media. Prior to the Nagoya basho, they had large cutouts of Endoh at the venue holding a woman's body with the face cut out so adoring female fans could stand behind the pieces and insert their faces into the cut out hole for a picture. Cutouts of a rikishi who had managed 16 wins the first half of the year? 16 wins in three basho and we're celebrating him?? And that doesn't even take into account that at least half of those wins were given to him. Yet, dude's a superstar because that's how it's portrayed in the media. There's no point predicting the number of Endoh wins this basho. If all of his bouts are fought straight up, he's probably a 2-3 win guy. With a little help, he'll likely finish with six.

Across the way is Amuuru, a compelling figure this high up on the banzuke. The Russian has enjoyed a streak of two consecutive kachi-koshi in the division, but last basho he started out 8-3 only to lose his final four bouts and finish 8-7. The reason he lost those final four bouts was because he was paired against better rikishi, the caliber of rikishi that he'll fight every day in September. As a result, I believe that Amuuru will falter with about six wins, but gaining experience at this level is key for him now.

Veterans Takekaze and Toyonoshima check in at the M8 rank, and I expect these guys to rely on their vast experience to waltz their way to kachi-koshi. I think they're bodies are slowing down, so double-digit wins will be tough, but expect kachi-koshi.

M9 Gagamaru certainly has the body, but the dude has never really learned how to win in the division. Could that be because he's sometimes trading wins?? I dunno, but I don't expect great things from Gagamaru even though odds are he'll get eight wins. Across the aisle is Kagamioh, a rikishi who is nothing to write home about.

I've always got my eye on M11 Chiyotairyu, and it's simply up to him and the sumo he chooses to do. Wasn't it about a year ago when we had a ton of Kokonoe-beya guys in the division. There was Chiyootori, Chiyotairyu, Chiyomaru, and some dude named Chiyoooooh. I've always believed that Chiyotairyu had the most potential out of that bunch, but being the highest ranked rikishi in your stable doesn't look nearly as impressive when that rank is M11. Still, Chiyotairyu is one guy whom I always root for due to his potential.

Our lone rookie this basho is M13 Daieisho, but I'll reserve comment on him until I see him fight. I just don't know enough about him, and sure, I can read about him and look up past records, but it's meaningless. Let's see how he does when the crowds are large, the pressure's on, and the Mongolian's rule.

Well, well, well, look who has made his return to the division after about three years...none other than The Secretary himself! Asasekiryu wasn't good when he slowly worked his way out of the Makuuchi division, so to see him back up here this late in his career tells me that the Juryo division must be occupied by a bunch'a yayhoos. I'll root for AsaSexy just for ole time's sake, but I don't expect much out of him. His partner to the West is Hidenoumi, who had a tough luck debut last basho after tweaking his lower back a few days in. Let's hope the kids is healthy and rearing to go in September because I liked what I saw from him early on.

With that said, here are my predictions for the 2015 Aki basho:

Yusho: Terunofuji (13-2)
Shukunsho: Tochinoshin
Ginosho: Ichinojo
Kantosho: Takarafuji

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