Ash and friends are almost to Petalburg City. Ash can't wait to battle Gym Leader Norman, while May and Max look forward to seeing their parents again. They remind Ash that he needs to pick three Pokémon to battle with, so Ash calls all of his out to decide.
After trying to get oranges out of a tree, the Pokémon are captured by Team Rocket in a net. Grovyle cuts the net and frees the Pokémon, and everyone congratulates the Grass-type. The gang sits down for lunch, but are interrupted by a dancing Ludicolo and its Trainer Poncho. Poncho challenges Ash to a battle; if Poncho wins, he gets the kids' lunch.
Ash is ready to use Grovyle but Corphish wants to battle. Ash and Corphish aren't really in synch, so Corphish is badly beaten. Poncho takes the sandwiches and leaves to eat, but is followed by the angry Corphish.
Team Rocket shows up again and grabs Poncho and Ludicolo in a net, but Corphish pops their balloon. Ash and friends arrive, and with Ash's teamwork, Corphish successfully takes out Team Rocket. Poncho apologizes for taking the sandwiches, and Brock makes stew for everyone.
Ash proposes a rematch with Poncho and Ludicolo, this time using his Torkoal.
Max declares that Petalburg City is just over the mountain, so the group decide to take a break following May’s request. Ash is keen for his upcoming Gym match against Norman, though May and Max quickly remind him that their father is very strong. Brock then reminds Ash that he hasn't chosen the three Pokémon that he will battle with, so Ash calls out all of his Pokémon from their Poké Balls. Every member of the team is delighted, except for Corphish, who is a little disgruntled seeing the newly evolved Grovyle. Ash isn't sure who he should choose, since he can't recall any of Norman's Pokémon except for Vigoroth. Max says that he would never tell what other Pokémon Norman has, as he doesn't want to give Ash an unfair advantage. Max asks May who she would cheer for, Ash or Norman, May admits that, even though she wants her father to win, she also doesn't want Ash to lose.
Suddenly, Taillow drops a fruit into Ash's hands, and its leads the group directly to a tree full of fruit. Corphish is keen for a bite, however it crushes the fruit with its pincers and a follow up Bubble Beam also proves destructive. Max orders Corphish to stop destroying the fruit as it resorts to ramming the tree. Grovyle takes over and uses Leaf Blade to cut some fruit from the tree. As Ash and his friends praise Grovyle's efforts, Corphish becomes jealous of the attention that Grovyle was receiving. Team Rocket suddenly interrupts, grabbing all of Ash's Pokémon in an electricity-proof net. Corphish tries to cut its way to freedom, but the net proves too strong. When it looked hopeless, Grovyle cuts the net open with Leaf Blade and frees everyone. It then sends Team Rocket flying, and the group commend it even more, only making Corphish more envious. Brock notices Corphish’s agitation and so whips up a lunch to settle tensions.
Just as Ash and his friends are about to dig into some sandwiches a Ludicolo suddenly appears along with its bongo-playing Trainer, Poncho. Brock adds that Lombre is the pre-evolved form of Ludicolo, so he calls out his Lombre. Poncho asks to have a battle, adding that he wins he gets their sandwiches, but if he loses he would buy them some cheeseburgers. Ash is eager for a warm up battle, and the promise of cheeseburgers only sweetens the deal. Poncho chooses his trusty Ludicolo, and as Ash considers who to choose, Grovyle steps in wanting to battle. Corphish, seeing this, is annoyed so Ash selects to battle with Corphish. Poncho and Ludicolo warm up first with a bongo beat before the battle gets underway. Corphish continues to attack, however Ludicolo avoids all the moves with ease thanks to Poncho’s bongo playing and uses Protect for added defense. Corphish approaches with a Crabhammer, but its stops after Ludicolo surrounds it with Double Team. Ash orders Corphish to destroy the duplicates and find the real Ludicolo, but it takes a big hit from Ludicolo's Focus Punch. Corphish's moves continue to miss their target, and it is soon knocked out by a Hyper Beam. Afterwards, Poncho thanks the group for the sandwiches and continues on his way. May and Max advise Ash that he and Corphish were not in sync, and in the end, Ludicolo, an enemy they had underestimated, won. Brock declares that he will make more sandwiches to avoid anyone going hungry. Corphish, however, remains unhappy with the result and runs off into the forest. The group then realizes that they have been praising Grovyle a lately and have now ignored Corphish, causing the aforementioned Pokémon to feel inferior.
Corphish, all alone in the forest, hears a bongo beating and traces it to Poncho and his Ludicolo. Corphish demands a rematch, and Poncho tries to refuse. Team Rocket then sees Ludicolo, his Trainer and Corphish, and Meowth suggests that Ludicolo would make a great gift for Giovanni. Shortly after, Team Rocket captures Poncho and Ludicolo in a net. Corphish intervenes, and after a failed attempt to break the net it simply punches the Meowth balloon with its claw, causing the aircraft to rapidly deflate and crash. Ash and his friends are almost hit by the balloon and are surprised to see Poncho, Ludicolo and Ash's Corphish emerge from the crash. Team Rocket are still set on stealing some Pokemon, with James and Jessie calling out Cacnea and Seviper to attack. Ash has Corphish deal with the trio. Corphish uses Harden to deflect Cacnea's Pin Missile before retaliating with Crabhammer. It then sends Team Rocket blasting off with a Bubble Beam.
Afterwards, the group and Poncho sit down and eat some of Brock's stew. Poncho admits that he is still feeling bad about the sandwiches, and having seen Corphish’s performance against team Rocket he declares that it must have just been having an off day. Then, Ash suddenly challenges Poncho to another battle, this time with his Torkoal. Ash starts things off with a Flamethrower, but Ludicolo dodges. Poncho orders a Focus Punch, but Torkoal uses Iron Defense to negate damage. Ludicolo follows up with a Double Team, but this Ash is more focused and has Torkoal sweep through the duplicates with a single Flamethrower attack. The Flamethrower finally singes Ludicolo. As the match continues on Brock and the others remark that Ash has learned to handle his Pokémon better in a battle.