Ash and his friends spot the town of Squallville. A strong gust of wind hits the group, causing Piplup to fly out of Dawn's hands. She quickly catches her Pokémon. They notice a Yanmega and a Wingull racing for a ring in the sky, which Ash and Brock are immediately excited to recognize as PokéRinger.
Ash races to the arena to get a closer look at the competition while Brock fills Dawn in about the PokéRinger competition. Yanmega gets the ring first, dodges the Wingull, and places it on the goal, winning the match. Yanmega's Trainer is actually James as he snubs his practice partner before walking away. Ash and his friends meet up with James, which spooks him at first. Jessie and Meowth watch from a distance as James maintains his disguise and tells them about the upcoming PokéRinger competition. Piplup wants to participate, but has forgotten that his evolutionary line can't fly. Ash decides to sign up with Staravia.
Fireworks start as the competition prepares to get underway, Dawn noticing the crowd size. Brock points out that the winner is made an honorary citizen of the town while Ash mentions the second prize of a large amount of Pokémon food. Jessie is doubtful about lending Yanmega to James, but he is confident at participating. Rhonda of Sinnoh Now covers the event with her crew as Jack's boom hits her as usual. She mentions that the battles are single-elimination.
The first match starts with Ash against Taylor. Dawn and Brock watch from the stands as the ring balloon is deployed, as well as Ash and Taylor's balloons to the set elevation. The round starts as Ash sends out Staravia while Taylor summons Skarmory. Both race to the ring as Staravia gets it first, racing to the goal. Skarmory fires Swift, which hits and causes Staravia to drop the ring. Skarmory steals it and goes for the goal as Staravia tries to catch up. Skarmory turns around and executes a Fury Attack. Staravia dodges continually, eventually causing Skarmory to drop the ring, allowing Staravia to steal and bolt. Skarmory gets ahead and uses Sand-Attack to blind Staravia before launching Air Cutter. Staravia is unable to dodge, but a wind gust pushes it out of the way. Staravia recovers as another Air Cutter heads towards it. Staravia gets closer before using Aerial Ace to dodge and race to the goal, planting the ring and giving Ash the first win. Ash congratulates his Pokémon.
The second match reveals the four-time defending champion Provo. His opponent surprises everyone as Paul's name is announced, getting Ash's attention as he encounters Paul. Paul brushes him off and gets into his balloon as Ash vows to beat him in the competition. Dawn and Brock know that Paul is merely using the competition for training as Dawn realizes that Paul will use Honchkrow. The round starts as Paul deploys Honchkrow while Provo calls on Dragonite. Honchkrow goes first as Dragonite fires Dragon Pulse. Honchkrow dodges and gets the ring as Dragonite turns and uses Fire Punch, missing. Dragonite hits with Dragon Rush, causing Honchkrow to drop the ring into free fall. Both race for the ring, Honchkrow getting it first and racing to the goal. Dragonite attempts another Dragon Rush as a wind gust kicks up. Paul has Honchkrow ride the wind and land a Sky Attack, which knocks out Dragonite thanks to Honchkrow's Super Luck Ability. Paul wins that round with only one strike, which makes Ash slightly uneasy.
Steveland's Skiploom fights against James's Yanmega. The round starts, but neither makes a move at first, waiting for the wind to kick in. James predicts a wind from above, but instead it comes from below and confuses Yanmega. Skiploom rides it and grabs the ring, heading for the goal. James then predicts an upward current and tries to have Yanmega ride the wind, but his bad judgment takes its toll as a downward current makes Yanmega plummet towards the ground. This helps Skiploom easily win the match for Steveland. James then tells Steveland that the Sinnoh winds are hard to predict (maybe as James is used to predicting the Hoenn winds in the Advanced Generation) and will learn from his mistakes. The competition jumps ahead as the final match comes down to Ash and Paul. Ash looks forward to battle while Paul is silent.
The final round of the PokéRinger competition starts with Ash summoning Staravia and Paul choosing Honchkrow. Staravia gets the ring first. Honchkrow uses Sky Attack while Staravia counters with Brave Bird. The attacks create a huge explosion, but Staravia takes damage and goes into a free fall, Honchkrow emerging relatively unharmed and rushing with Night Slash. Ash has Staravia dodge with Quick Attack before heading towards the goal. Honchkrow fires Dark Pulse, hitting and Staravia briefly loses the ring, quickly grabbing it and bolting to the goal. A strong gust of wind halts Staravia as Honchkrow rides the wind, powering up Aerial Ace. The attack misses as Staravia tries to overcome the repulsion, but to no avail. Honchkrow continues to put pressure with Aerial Ace, eventually striking Staravia and knocking the ring out of Staravia’s beak. Honchkrow takes possession of the ring. Both bird Pokémon exchange glares before racing towards the goal. Staravia goes into Aerial Ace, but Honchkrow moves aside, the attack passing harmlessly. Ash quickly has Staravia come down with Quick Attack, stealing the ring right out from Honchkrow’s beak. While Staravia races towards the goal, Paul orders Honchkrow to strike with Sky Attack, hitting Staravia. As he attempts a follow-up Night Slash, Ash has Staravia retaliate with Quick Attack. However, Honchkrow anticipates this, dodging the attack and striking with Night Slash, sending Staravia to the ground, though it still holds the ring. Dawn comments on how Paul predicted the Quick Attack and that Staravia may not be able to match Honchkrow.
Ash tries to encourage Staravia to get up, but Paul snubs him before ordering a finishing Sky Attack. Staravia seems immobile as Honchkrow bears down, but Ash's encouragement gets it back into the air. Staravia spreads its wings before it begins to glow, starting the evolution process. Its wings and tailfeathers grow as the evolution completes with Staraptor ready to fight. Ash checks his Pokédex as Staraptor growls at Honchkrow. Not backing down, Paul has Honchkrow use Night Slash, both of the Pokémon’s wings glowing. Staraptor easily dodges the attacks, but Honchkrow eventually lands a hit and Staraptor loses the ring. Both go after it, repelling each other before Honchkrow stalls Staraptor with a Night Slash. Staraptor quickly races towards Honchkrow, gets parallel and proceeds to attack with close range strikes. Dawn recognizes the new attack as Close Combat before Staraptor pushes Honchkrow back with a wing strike. Brock comments on how the Fight-type move is especially effective against a Dark-type like Honchkrow. Excited, Ash has Staraptor go for the ring. Staraptor grabs it and races for the goal. Honchkrow tries to hit with Night Slash, but Staraptor dodges, gets behind and attempts Brave Bird. Honchkrow turns around and hits with Sky Attack, the two moves creating a powerful explosion and sending the ring away. Both Trainers order their Pokémon after it. Honchkrow gets farther ahead and is almost to the ring, but Ash shouts to Staraptor to get that ring. Staraptor races forward and unexpectedly swats the ring with it wing before Honchkrow can close its beak, sending the ring onto the goal. Ash and Staraptor win the PokéRinger giving Ash his first overall win against Paul.
Back on the ground, Paul scolds Honchkrow, telling it they lost due to its slow reactions before recalling it and then after a quick glance at Ash, leaves. Afterward, Ash poses for a picture with Pikachu and Staraptor as he gets a plaque and the prize of Pokémon food. Since there's so much food Ash decides it should be eaten right away and Dawn sends out her Pokémon to feast. However Mamoswine quickly devours it all, leaving Dawn's other Pokémon angry.
At sunset, as Paul leaves the area, Ash catches up with him and gloats that the Starly he thought was worthless evolved into Staravia and is now a powerful Staraptor. Paul can only respond that he considers it to have taken far too long before walking away. Dawn is upset at this response, but Brock tells her it's just Paul's way. Dawn then tells Ash she knows he'll do great at Snowpoint Gym and Ash is more certain than ever he'll win now he has Staraptor on his team. And so, the episode ends with both Ash and Staraptor looking forward to the challenges ahead.
- An instrumental version of Advance Adventure is used as background music.
- This episode is similar to That's Just Swellow! in multiple ways.
- Ash enters the PokéRinger with his Flying-type Pokémon, while James enters with one of Jessie's Bug types.
- Both episodes involve an overconfident former champion who gets knocked out in the first round.
- Ash's Pokémon evolves and helps him win the contest.
- Ash's Pokémon hits the hoop over the goal section by hitting it with its wings in the final.
- Even the background music used near when they hit the ring with its wing is used in both episodes.
- This is Ash's first victory against Paul.
- Professor Oak's lecture: Abra.
- Staraptor's white plumage on his breast disappears in one scene.
- Brock says that Staraptor's Close Combat is super effective against Dark types such as Paul's Honchkrow. While this is technically correct, Honchkrow's Flying-type makes it take regular damage from Fighting-type moves.
- After Staraptor learns Close Combat and Ash tells it to get the ring while pointing at it, he has six fingers.
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