We join our heroes just in time to witness an unusual sight: a battle taking place between Cilan’s Pansage and Iris’s Axew! Of course, Ash wants to get in on the action, but Iris isn’t interested. Because Axew doesn’t have much battle experience, she’s asked Cilan to help her train it by using very restrained attacks.
The battle ends in explosive fashion when Axew’s powerful Dragon Rage attack gets a little out of control. Iris explains that she’s committed to training Axew because it was given to her by an Elder of her hometown, who advised her that the journey to raise Axew into a Haxorus would help Iris learn and grow as well.
Meanwhile, Axew and Pikachu wander off into the woods in search of a snack—and run right into an angry Scolipede! Ash and Cilan spring into action to try to drive it off, and in order to save Axew, Iris brings out her second Pokémon: a powerful, haughty Excadrill. Although Iris can’t get Excadrill to obey any of her own commands, it quickly sends Scolipede scurrying, and Axew is safely returned.
After some wise advice from Cilan, Iris decides that she will continue to train with Axew at her own relaxed pace. Ash is still in the mood for a battle—so when Iris advises him to battle Pikachu, that’s just what he does! We leave our heroes as Ash and Pikachu square off against each other…and Iris wonders just how far her friend from Pallet Town will go for a battle!
As Ash and his friends are on their way to Nacrene City, Cilan and Iris had stopped somewhere in the forest to battle. Ash, observing them from the side, questions why he isn't the one battling. Iris tells him that he is too serious, and a Volt Tackle from Pikachu would be too unbearable for Axew. She then commands Axew to use Scratch on Pansage. Slowly, Axew trots over, and Pansage starts firing his Bullet Seed - one seed at a time. However, before Axew could even reach Pansage, the extremely gentle Bullet Seed attack proved too much for Axew, and Axew starts crying. Iris runs over to console Axew and Ash hears her telling Axew that it was only a practice. Cilan then explains that they are practicing so as to get Axew used to battle, and it was agreed previously that only 'soft' attacks at twenty percent will be used. Ash claims that battles are more productive when full effort is being put in, and Iris rebukes him for not being a gentleman and for acting like a child. When Axew is feeling better, Iris tells him to perform another Scratch attack on Pansage. Though Pansage blocks the attack by grabbing the fin on Axew's head. As Axew flails his arms around, Iris orders Cilan to be more serious. Cilan remarks that this is the strategy he usually employs in Gym battles: to block the opponent's attacks then follow up with a close-ranged attack. Pansage then charges his Solar Beam. As Iris panics, Ash asks if Axew knows any other moves he could use to counter. Iris then claims that he has one other move, but while contemplating on whether or not to use it, Pansage unleashes the Solar Beam attack which he had been charging: a tiny fleck of light which hits Axew squarely in the head and causes him to roll over. Shortly after, Ash tells Iris to let Axew use 'the other move', so Iris orders Axew to use Dragon Rage. Axew starts charging energy, his belly glowing in blue light. As his mouth gapes open, ready to launch the attack at Pansage, he suddenly blunders, causing a gigantic explosion and a large crater to form. All but Axew are then covered in soot and severely surprised by the attack.
Meanwhile in an abandoned Nacrene City building, Jessie, James and Meowth are huddled together in front of a computer-like device. Giovanni appears on the screen, and instructs the Team Rocket to travel to the Desert Resort. As it appears, the Desert Resort is at the center of an energy flow with the same energy signature as the one found at the Dreamyard. Obtaining such an energy is a key component of Team Rocket's ultimate plan, and as such, they are to meet up with another Team Rocket agent to investigate a meteorite fragment that is located there.
Taking a break on the trunk of a large tree, Iris glumly explains that Axew has not mastered Dragon Rage yet. Ash and Cilan then joke that it was more like a "sneeze" than a "rage", which only offends Iris. As Iris is troubled by Axew's Dragon Rage, she reveals to them that Axew only knows the two moves he had used earlier on. Iris was hoping that by taking things slowly, he would gradually improve his performance. Meanwhile, Axew returns with fruits he had plucked from a tree, and leaves again to get more. As Ash and Cilan comment positively on Axew's potential, Ash then offers to battle with Iris' Axew. However, Iris refuses to, and says she does not want to lose. Ash and Cilan then became curious as to how she got Axew in the first place. She then explains that he was given to her by an elder from her hometown, the Village of Dragons, a place which specialized in raising Dragon-type Pokémon. There, it is a traditional rite of passage for a young Trainer to be given a Pokémon. A Trainer has to raise the Axew they were given into an Haxorus, a proof that the Trainer had grown to fully understand its Pokémon and its heart. As they had already left their hometown for some time, Iris admits she is concerned about how Axew was developing and thus requested to battle Cilan. She then realizes that Axew has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Axew stands on a thin branch, trying to pick a cluster of fruit from overhead. Axew finally moves close enough and grabs a fruit. However, as the stalk of the fruit cleaves from the tree, the branch springs up, which causes Axew to lose his balance. He tumbles down into the bush below and into between the horns of a sleeping Pokémon. Alarmed, a Scolipede awakens from its slumber and shakes its head rapidly and violently, trying to free Axew from its horns. Pikachu jumps off the tree and attacks it with Iron Tail. Enraged, it charges at Pikachu only to miss and send the tree behind Pikachu flying into the air. Pikachu tries to run away, and Axew attempts a Dragon Rage attack on Scolipede. However, once again, the attack explodes before it could be launched.
The group notices the explosion, and realizing where Pikachu and Axew are, they run towards it. Pikachu comes running in the opposite direction, and upon seeing Ash, he tries to explain what had happened with a Scolipede impression. The gigantic Pokémon pops out from behind a bush and Axew is heard screaming as he is shaken wildly again. Ash checks his Pokédex and realizes it's called a Scolipede. The threat rushes towards the group, firing Toxic globs that dissolve its surrounds instantly. Ash and Cilan then attempt to battle it and rescue Axew, using Pansage and Snivy. Pansage starts by firing Bullet Seed at its feet, and while the wild Scolipede flinches, Snivy grabs its horns with her Vine Whip. However, Scolipede proves too strong against Snivy, spinning her around wildly, thereby causing her to faint from dizziness. Scolipede then continues its rampage. As it approaches., Iris steps up with a Poké Ball in hand, though she hesitates to send the Pokémon out. After Ash reminds her about the urgency of the situation, she plucks up her courage and hurls the Poké Ball into the air, releasing a curled up Pokémon. Ash then checks his Pokédex, and it is revealed to be an Excadrill. Iris begs the stationary Excadrill to assist her in saving Axew. However, after being ignored, she decides to help Axew herself and devises a plan. Pansage starts charging Solar Beam while Ash sends out Tepig. Together with Pikachu, Tepig attacks Scolipede’s feet, delaying its advance and giving Cilan's Pansage time to launch his Solar Beam to stop the threat in its tracks. Right from above, Iris grabs a vine and swings over Scolipede's head, grabbing Axew's leg and then landing safely. The team then celebrates; Ash recalling Tepig, and Cilan, his Pansage.
However, their celebration is short-lived, as Scolipede recovers and turns to Iris, ready to attack. It brushes its hind feet against the ground in preparation to charge, but doing so, it accidentally knocks Excadrill and sends him rolling away. Agitated, Excadrill burrows underground and surfaces, hitting Scolipede in the face. The two Pokémon stare at each other, eyes glowing with fury; a battle is about to ensue. Ash asks Iris to give commands, but Iris simply states that Excadrill will not listen to her, and as such, the team watches as Scolipede launches another Toxic attack at Excadrill. Excadrill, being a partial Steel-type Pokémon, is not affected by Poison-type attacks, and merely slaps the Toxic away. Excadrill then uses Drill Run, before tossing a charging Scolipede into the sky and across the forest as it tries to use a counterattack. Excadrill lets out a victorious roar, and as the group expresses their gratitude towards him, he stares into the sky for a while before grunting and returning back to his dormant drill-like state. Iris recalls Excadrill.
Cilan then encourages Iris to train at her own pace with both Axew and Excadrill, when Ash offers to battle them. Iris refuses again, telling Ash that if he wants to battle so badly, then he should battle with Pikachu. Taking her comment literally, Ash excitedly agrees and both Trainer and Pokémon take their places ready to battle. Ash tells Pikachu to shock him with Thunderbolt, and subsequently ram him with Volt Tackle, to which the Electric Mouse Pokémon complies. Cilan comments that they are a truly unique pair while Iris is awestruck that they took her seriously. Ash and Pikachu continue their electrifying battle while lighting up the entire forest, as both Iris and Cilan watch, speechless.