Hot Matches! (Japanese: エアームドＶＳヒノアラシ！はがねのつばさ！！Airmd VS Hinoarashi! Steel Wing!!) is the 152nd episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on June 15, 2000 and in the United States on May 12, 2001.
When Ash and friends hear of a virtually undefeatable trainer operating nearby, they seek her out, only to see first Brock's Vulpix and then Ash's Cyndaquil take heavy abuse from her Skarmory—despite its disadvantage against the Fire element.
After exiting the Pokémon Center, Ash bumps into a young Trainer holding a Growlithe in his hands. He warns Ash to avoid an old mountain bridge because of a tough Trainer, but Ash decides to go anyway. As the group discusses which Pokémon the Trainer might be using to be so tough, Team Rocket overhears the conversation and decides to snatch the Pokémon once they are weakened during the battle. Once they reach the destination, Misty spots a young girl. When Brock begins flirting with her, she identifies herself as Miki and challenges him to a battle, surprising Brock with her determination.
Miki instructs Brock to send out a Fire-type Pokémon, explaining she is trying to get her Skarmory to be stronger and beat any type of Pokémon; even its weaknesses like Fire-types. Miki sends out Skarmory while Brock sends out his only Fire-type Pokémon, Vulpix. The battle starts with Skarmory making a dust cloud in Vulpix's face while it swoops back into the air. Before Skarmory can attack, Vulpix uses Flamethrower, only to miss because of Skarmory using Agility. Vulpix then starts using its own Agility to flee from Skarmory. However, Skarmory strikes it with Steel Wing, and Vulpix is knocked out. Miki asks Brock if he has any more Fire-type Pokémon. Ash steps in and says that he has one, but he boasts that it might be too hot for her Skarmory to handle.
The match starts, and Ash sends out Cyndaquil who is already yawning. Skarmory approaches with Fury Attack, but Cyndaquil dodges. Next, Cyndaquil tries to get its flames going, but gets attacked by Swift. Cyndaquil's Agility helps it dodge most of the Fury Attacks except for the final one. Cyndaquil finally gets its flames going and breaths a Flamethrower, but the attack misses. Skarmory's Swift attack hits again. Skarmory swoops down for a Steel Wing, when Cyndaquil uses Flamethrower, missing yet again. Just as Skarmory is about to attack, two claws appear and grab the two Pokémon. Team Rocket recites their motto, and begin to fly off in their balloon. Miki notices Skarmory is wriggling around and orders it to use Swift on the cable. Skarmory manages to escape, though its wings are still pinned to its body so Brock jumps to Skarmory's aid, only to be crushed under its weight. With Cyndaquil still captive, Ash and Pikachu continue to chase after Team Rocket. Skarmory later appears and slices through the balloon with a Steel Wing attack, which sends Team Rocket blasting off. Ash manages to catch Cyndaquil and retrieves it from its cage.
At night, everyone returns to Miki's house to enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by Brock. Miki is impressed by Brock's culinary skills, and Brock tells Miki that he would happily cook for her if she traveled with him. Misty pulls Brock aside by the ear and scolds him for the flirting comment. Ash asks Miki about her training regime, and she explains that she intensely trains alongside Skarmory. By morning, Ash and Cyndaquil run uphill through the fog in an attempt to become stronger. Once they reach the hilltop, Ash has Cyndaquil practice its best Tackle attack on him. Ash turns his attention to Cyndaquil's flame, but after a while he decides to practice its Agility attack. Afterwards, Ash has Cyndaquil use another Tackle on him, and this time it is powerful enough to knock Ash into a nearby apple tree. Ash's attention then turns to breakfast and as he goes to pick several apples he also disturbs a wildBeedrill. Soon, Ash and Cyndaquil are running from an entire swarm. Ash trips over, but Cyndaquil rushes to defend it Trainer and fires several Flamethrower to ward off the Beedrill. Ash is impressed by Cyndaquil's newfound control and has it practice its Flamethrower on some flying targets.
Meanwhile, Brock, Misty and Miki have enjoyed a leisurely morning. Ash's friends watch Miki brushes her Skarmory's wings, and soon Ash returns from his special training. Ash challenges Miki to a rematch and she happily accepts the challenge. After withstanding three Steel Wings, Cyndaquil manages to defeat Skarmory using Flamethrower. Ash is thrilled that his training has paid off. Miki thanks the group for the experience and she adds that she wishes to travel around and battle Gym Leaders. Ash looks forward to seeing her in the Silver Conference as he and his friends wave goodbye.
When this episode first premiered on Kids' WB!, the part which shows Ash training with Cyndaquil to the part where he gets a bite to eat was cut out in order to make room for the entire music video for the song Pokérap GS. In future airings, the uncut version would be shown, and instead of Pokérap GS includes the Pokémon Karaokémon segment You & Me & Pokémon.