On meeting up with a proud Pokémon Trainer who dares all comers to face his Poliwrath, Misty and Ash quickly rise to the challenge. Misty, in particular, encourages her Poliwhirl to watch closely as it may someday evolve into a Poliwrath. As is often the case, the battle isn't long over before this challenger and Ash and Misty have become fast friends. Meanwhile, Team Rocket, having furtively observed this battle and been convinced that the Poliwrath is a match even for Pikachu, decide to first capture it and then use it to capture Pikachu. Unfortunately, this logic does not hold as they find capturing a Pokémon stronger than Pikachu even more difficult than simply capturing Pikachu. A surprise is in store for Misty, as her Poliwhirl evolves not into a Poliwrath, but into another Pokémon altogether.
Ash and his friends prepare to make a stopover at a Pokémon Center when they spot a large crowd watching a raging battle. They decide to check it out. When they get a closer look they see two Trainers, Mason versus Delaney. The match quickly ends after Delaney's Poliwrath uses Submission on Hitmontop. Delaney is thrilled by his seventh consecutive victory and calls out to the crowd for another eager challenger. Ash gladly steps forward. Misty also declares she wants to battle, causing her and Ash to begin fighting. Delaney ends the argument when he agrees to battle both of them. The first battle is Misty's Poliwhirl against Poliwrath. The match starts with a collision of Water Gun attacks. Poliwhirl then uses Bubble. Poliwrath dodges and uses Double Slap. Poliwrath follows up with Submission and tosses Poliwhirl out of the match.
Ash takes his position and calls on his Bayleef to start things off with a Razor Leaf. Poliwrath dodges and strikes back with a Double Slap. In the meantime, Poliwhirl begins to recover to watch the battle. Misty wants Poliwhirl to watch as it "will" evolve into a Poliwrath someday. The match soon appears to be a bad matchup for Bayleef as Poliwrath has her standing on two feet, not four. Team Rocket is also watching the match, Jessie declares that she wants Poliwrath instead of Pikachu this time. James and Meowth agree, because if they had Poliwrath, Pikachu would be easier to catch. Meanwhile, both Bayleef and Poliwrath appear to be severely damaged. Bayleef uses a Tackle attack and Poliwrath uses Double Slap. Suddenly, Brock stops the match. Both Ash and Delaney are annoyed, but Brock points out that both Pokémon are too injured to go on. Delaney concedes and agrees to a draw with Ash before officially introducing himself.
Later at the Pokémon Center, Ash and Misty are talking about healing their Pokémon when Ash slips on the wet floor, which is in the process of being cleaned. As a result, his belongings go flying out of his backpack. In the scramble to pick everything up, Poliwhirl finds the King's Rock and is returned back to its Poké Ball with it. Afterwards, Ash happily hands his Pokémon to Nurse Joy for some rest.
Meanwhile, Delaney is bust apologizing to his Poliwrath for exhausting it earlier when he sees a fortune teller, which is actually Jessie in disguise. As a part of the elaborate ploy, Meowth and James pose as orange farmers and declare that the fortune teller predicted that orange prices would see a drastic increase, so they turned to farming oranges. With the farmer's recommendations in mind, Delaney is less skeptical. He waits to hear the fortune teller's latest prediction, and Jessie looks into her crystal ball to reveal that Poliwrath is possessed by evil. She offers to remove the evil, and so Delaney hands Poliwrath over to her. She covers the Poké Ball with a cloth and tells Delaney to count to thirty slowly with his eyes closed. The ploy allows Team Rocket to make their escape with Delaney's Poliwrath, but Delaney opens his eyes and sees them running off. Team Rocket runs away scared that he might catch up. Ash and his friends overhear Delaney's shouting, so they come over to join the chase. Ash demands answers, so Team Rocket recites their motto before making their soaring off in their Meowth balloon. As the gang follows they slide down a hill into a truck carrying hay, as Team Rocket disappears behind a mountain. Ash wants to send out Noctowl, but all of his Pokémon are still at the Pokémon Center. As the truck stops, everybody jumps off and continues the chase.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket celebrates their successful getaway and tries to train Poliwrath. However, Poliwrath defeats all of their Pokémon and refuses to listen. Soon Ash and his friends find a Pokémon Center and get their Pokémon transferred over to them. As they come out of the Center a man runs up to them and alerts them to a Poliwrath and three other folks in the area. Team Rocket has since geared up Poliwrath with the Mark Three Manner Minder, a brace machine that allows them to control its movements. As Poliwrath defeats an Ursaring, Ash and his friends catch up. Poliwrath struggles a lot more than previously and Delaney realizes that the machine is controlling its movements. Ash sends out Phanpy. Poliwrath uses Water Gun. After this, Ash commands Phanpy to use Take Down, but Delaney stops him to avoid hurting his Poliwrath. Misty sends out Corsola next, which uses Tackle and Spike Cannon on the Mark III Manner Minder making the machine fly onto Jessie. Meowth is pleased, and he gleefully takes the controller and begins to order Jessie around. He sends Jessie to battle Corsola, but she is quickly defeated by a Spike Cannon attack. James is excited to try the Manner Minder out. He forces Jessie to perform an "obedience Submission attack", though this causes Jessie to tumble roll instead. Poliwrath finally recovers and Double Slaps the manipulation device off Jessie. James orders out his Victreebel, which latches onto his head. Meowth suggests the Manner Minder would do Victreebel wonders. Jessie sends Arbok into the fray, while Ash selects Phanpy again.
Misty calls out her Poliwhirl, and it emerges with the King's Rock on its head. The item leads Poliwhirl to suddenly evolve into a Politoed. Ash looks it up in his Pokédex. Misty is thrilled by her very happy Pokémon. Jessie is furious and orders Arbok to attack. James follows suit, but Politoed instead greets Victreebel with a friendly handshake. Misty commands it to use Water Gun instead, which batters Victreebel's Razor Leaves away. Politoed uses Double Slap and performs a victory dance afterwards. Delaney alerts Ash to Phanpy's current predicament; it is in trouble from Arbok's Wrap. Brock reads through his guidebook, and he asks Misty if Politoed can use a move called Swagger. Misty orders the attack, and it causes Arbok and Victreebel to become confused and begin infighting. Arbok then strikes out at Politoed, which Misty notices was particularly powerful. Brock then reads that Swagger confuses and also raises its opponents' attack power. Next, Delaney commands Poliwrath to use Double Slap on Arbok. Politoed slaps Victreebel. Phanpy finishes them with a Take Down, which knocks them into their Trainers and Poliwrath's Poké Ball is sent flying. Delaney catches his Poké Ball before Pikachu blasts Team Rocket off with Thunderbolt. Everyone celebrates after finally defeating Team Rocket. Later at the Pokémon Center, Delaney and the gang part ways and their journey continues.
The device used by Team Rocket for this episode bears a resemblance to the Strength Intensifiers A.J. used on his Pokémon. Its purpose is also similar to the device Dr. Namba used on Electabuzz and hoped to use on Lugia.
Instead of the regular Team Rocket theme, the music during the motto is instead a variation.
The English title is most likely a reference to "The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (Hamlet 3. 1. 68), part of Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy from the tragedy by William Shakespeare.
It may also be based on either the game show or movie "Outrageous Fortune".
Another possible source for the title could be the fortune teller act put on by Team Rocket during the episode.
When Poliwhirl evolves, Team Rocket says, "Shazam!" This may be a reference to Captain Marvel, the comic book figure who transforms from a young man into an adult superhero at the mention of the name of the wizard who gave him his abilities, Shazam.
When Poliwrath is fighting Ash's Bayleef, it is the ninth battle that day. However, Brock says it is Poliwrath's eighth battle.
When Nurse Joy sends over the group's Pokémon, the Poké Balls are missing the outer white circle.
When Misty calls on Corsola to battle Poliwrath, she sends it out of a regular Poké Ball instead of the Lure Ball it is contained in.
When Team Rocket blasts off, even though Wobbuffet isn't out of its Poké Ball, it is seen blasting off with them.
When Misty sends out her Poliwhirl while facing Delaney, the Poké Ball is missing the button and the outer white circle.
Delaney says to Ash in the final scene, "Good luck and get that last Badge, Ash." However, Ash never mentioned anything about his Badges to Delaney.
The missing outer ring
Corsola's "Poké Ball"
There are two separate shots of Poliwrath violently slapping Jessie; in one of those shots, she has red spots on her cheeks from Poliwrath's intense slapping. Both of these shots were deemed "too violent" and cut from the broadcast version and first US home video release and replaced with an impact animation. The version streamed on Pokémon TV and the second US home video release, however, leaves the shots in this episode intact.