Hot Matches! (Japanese: エアームドＶＳヒノアラシ！はがねのつばさ！！ Skarmory VS Cyndaquil! Steel Wing!!) is the 36th episode of Pokémon: The Johto Journeys.
While en route to Goldenrod City, Ash and friends run into a trainer whose Growlithe fainted after battling a trainer near the bridge. Now psyched up, Ash and co. head to the bridge only to find a beautiful girl (who Brock falls for at first sight). But there is more to this beautiful girl, Miki, than meets the eye. In fact, she's the trainer who beat the snot out of the other trainer's Growlithe with her Pokémon, Skarmory. She wants to see if a Fire type can actually beat her Skarmory. Is Ash up for the challenge with his Cyndaquil?
The heroes exit the Pokémon Center. Just then, Ash bumps into a boy, who went to a Center to treat his Growlithe, who lost against a trainer. Ash thinks he can beat this trainer, so they go to the mountains to meet her. Brock and Misty think what the trainer specializes in, but Ash is confident in himself and Pikachu. Team Rocket spy, though Jessie gets annoyed as Wobbuffet comes out often. Nevertheless, they agree to follow the twerps. The heroes come to a bridge and Misty spots a girl, making Brock flirt with that girl. The girl is Miki and Brock lets her know whatever she wants. She wants a battle with a Fire Pokémon, making Brock see she is not a lost maiden in the woods.
Ash and Misty think the trainer was Miki who defeated Growlithe Brock complies to her wish, so she sends Skarmory, making the heroes surprised at that Pokémon. Miki admits Steel Pokémon are weak against Fire Pokémon, so she battles against them to make Skarmory stronger. Brock sends Vulpix to battle Skarmory. Team Rocket see Skarmory and plan on catching it. Skarmory goes up, so Misty sees it will dive to attack. Vulpix uses Flamethrower,though Skarmory dodges and comes close to it via Agility. Vulpix uses Agility as well. However, Skarmory defeats it with a Steel Wing. Brock calls Vulpix back, as he is impressed by Miki's trained Skarmory. Miki asks if he has any Fire Pokémon, but Brock tells he does not. Ash tells he has a Cyndaquil, but warns her it might be hard for her to handle. Miki nevertheless wants a battle, so Ash sends Cyndaquil. Cyndaquil yawns, so Ash warns it should light its flames or will lose.
Skarmory starts with Fury Attack, so Cyndaquil dodges. Miki sees Ash will not win by using defense. Ash tells Cyndaquil to light its flames and Cyndaquil does, but for a short moment. Skarmory uses Swift, hitting Cyndaquil with it. Skarmory uses Fury Attack, hitting Cyndaquil, despite its Agility move. Cyndaquil focuses and ignites its flames, using Flamethrower, but gets hit by Swift. Cyndaquil barely stands up, while Skarmory uses Steel Wing. Cyndaquil uses Flamethrower, but misses, so Ash tells it to dodge the attack. Suddenly, Team Rocket captures Skarmory and Cyndaquil. They go away in their balloon, but are in trouble when Skarmory uses Swift, cutting itself free. Skarmory falls down and Brock captures it, barely. Still, Ash tracks Team Rocket to free Cyndaquil. Skarmory flies and pierces the balloon with Steel Wing. Cyndaquil falls down and gets saved by Ash, while Team Rocket blast off.
During the night, the heroes have dinner at a lodge, as Miki compliments Brock's cooking. Brock responds he can make a romantic dinner every night, though Misty grabs his ear. Ash asks Miki if there are any secret techniques for training Skarmory, so he learns she trains with Skarmory. Ash is determined to do the same with Cyndaquil. Next day, Ash and Cyndaquil run to boost Cyndaquil's reactions. Ash asks of Cyndaquil to attack him with the best tackle. Cyndaquil hesitates, but tackles Ash, who feels it was a soft attack. Ash orders it to start its flames, though Cyndaquil does that for a moment. Ash tries to show Cyndaquil to focus its energies, but the result is the same. Ash then plans to work on defensive moves. Cyndaquil uses Agility and with Ash's command, it becomes faster. Meanwhile, Miki, Brock and Misty have breakfast
After the training, Cyndaquil tackles Ash, who is impressed by its power, as it nearly knocked him down. Ash harvests some fruit and goes to feed Cyndaquil and himself. However, he encounters Beedrill and runs away from them with Cyndaquil. Cyndaquil lights its flames and uses Flamethrower, scaring them off. Ash is happy Cyndaquil is improving and throws a stick, which Cyndaquil burns away. Ash tries with multiple, which Cyndaquil burns all of them. After the training, he and Cyndaquil return, seeing Miki brushing Skarmory. Ash asks for a re-match, which Miki anticipated. Skarmory starts by diving, using Fury Attack. However, it gets affected by Cyndaquil's Smokescreen. Cyndaquil uses Flamethrower, though misses and dodges Skarmory's Steel Wing with Agility. Cyndaquil continues with Flamethrower, though Skarmory uses Agility to boost its defense.
Miki sees the only way to win is to use the strongest move. Skarmory uses Steel Wing and Cyndaquil Flamethrower. Skarmory gets hit by Flamethrower, but uses Steel Wing and hits Cyndaquil with it. Skarmory gets hit by the same attack, but uses the same attack and hits Cyndaquil. Cyndaquil is more powered up and dodges Skamory's Steel Wing. Skarmory uses Fury Attack, but does not hit Cyndaquil with it. Skarmory uses Steel Wing, but misses Cyndaquil and bashes into a rock. By tackling Skarmory and igniting it, Ash wins the battle. Miki thanks Skarmory, while Ash praises Cyndaquil for the victory. Later, Miki decides to pursue the Gym Leaders to learn more. Misty thinks Miki and Ash can see each other at the league. The heroes depart, while Team Rocket hangs on a branch.
- Brock: "I climb this mountain and find the peak of perfection."
Misty: "Yeah, but he lost his mind."
Brock: "My name's Brock. What's your name miss?"
Girl: "My name's Miki."
Brock: "Ah, lovely name for a lovely girl, but there's a really tough trainer somewhere up on this mountain and you shouldn't be out here all alone."
Miki: "Oh dear, whatever will I do?"
Brock: "I'm at your service."
Miki smiles evily
Miki: "Then maybe you can do me a favor."
Brock: "You just name it Miki."
Miki gently pulls her hand.
Miki gets ready for battle.
Miki: "Have a Pokémon battle with me Brock, use a Fire Pokémon."
Brock: "Ah! You're not a poor little girl lost in the woods, are ya?"
Miki: "No, sorry."
- Misty: That kid warned us about the trainer who beat him."
Ash: "And I bet that trainer was Miki."
- The Growlithe trainer was voiced by Kayzie Rogers.
- This is another episode to introduce a new type of Pokémon - the Steel Type.
- The "Who's that Pokémon?" in this episode is Aipom.
Cyndaquil used Agility, even if it cannot learn that move.