All 720 Pokémon, Graded. Part 7 — Nos. 61 to 70 (Poliwhirl to Weepinbell)

Welcome back to the best darn Pokémon grading feature in the multiverse. Today, we check out both brains and brawn.

061. Poliwhirl
Best Name: Quaputzi (German)
Type: Water
Have you ever sat through a performance review where your boss couldn’t exactly tell you anything you were doing wrong but also wasn’t prepared to call you an exemplary employee? If you have, you’ll better understand how I feel right now. According to the Pokédex, Poliwhirl sweats to keep itself moist[1] when on land and its belly spiral “slowly undulates”, inducing drowsiness. Buddy, if I want to watch something sweat and slowly undulate, I’ll look at myself in the mirror while I’m having sex! BOOM! Hey, you’ve been great. Try the crab cakes, they’re the best in the city. B

062. Poliwrath
Best Name: Tartard (French)
Type: Water/Fighting
Many of Poliwrath’s Pokédex entries say it can swim across the Pacific Ocean without stopping to rest. First of all, quit getting your real world chocolate in my Pokémon peanut butter. Second, this is the kind of business opportunity one of those Team Blank organizations should be taking advantage of. Comfortable, Pokémon-driven, cross-ocean travel at exorbitant prices! (Sounds like a job for Team Aqua, natch.)

If you look at its spiral region, Poliwrath is trying to puff itself up and look angry, but it’s actually cracking a big ol’ grin. Quit being such a try-hard, Poliwrath. Be yourself, not the Jimmy Fallon of Pokémon. Isn’t it nutty how Jimmy Fallon successfully transformed from “that guy who always ruins Saturday Night Live sketches by breaking character” to “late-night institution”? I am genuinely curious about how it feels to live a life where something you do goes viral literally every day. Not that I want that life—I just want to know what it’s like. B-

063. Abra
Best Name: Casey (Japanese)
Type: Psychic
Abra is asleep! At last! Maybe this time I’ll catch the little turd. Abra woke up! Abra used Teleport! Bye Felicia! Curse you, Abra! I’ll make you rue the day you were born! RUE IT, I SAY! I wonder if an Abra has ever teleported somewhere and then woke up and didn’t know where it was. Word up, little man, Electric Forest was crazy for me too. C

064. Kadabra
Best Name: English
Type: Psychic
In days of yore, when the original 151 roamed the land, there were four species that evolved by trading: Machoke (into Machamp), Graveler (into Golem), Haunter (into Gengar), and Kadabra (into Alakazam). Which was cool, definitely a neat mechanic … unless you didn’t have any friends who played. In that case, you either had to own two Game Boys and two copies of Pokémon Red and/or Blue, which would be impractical and unrealistic and the saddest thing ever, or otherwise plug through the game with the Stage 1 evolutions. So to those Pokémon who couldn’t evolve because their owners didn’t have anyone to trade with and fought side-by-side with their lonely hearts through thick and thin, this one goes out to you. B+

065. Alakazam
Best Name: Simsala (German)
Type: Psychic
Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam! I dare you to look at their three names and not say the phrase aloud. It’s so fun to say! But not to sing. (Oh, rock stars trying out disco. The late 70s was a dark time, kids.) I’ll always have a soft spot for Alakazam, who was king of the mountain in the days when buggy-AF programming made psychic the type to be, but when I looked at its Bulbapedia page and saw Mega Alakazam, I nearly had a stroke from the sheer awesomeness. Dig that glorious chin-mane of Solomonian wisdom! And he doesn’t mess around: he’s rockin’ FIVE spoons simultaneously. You want to sue us, Uri Geller? We will make you look like an old man pulling a quarter from behind his grandson’s ear. A-

066. Machop
Best Name: Altongmon (Korean)
Type: Fighting
I think we can safely say we’re deep in a groove where the evolutions are better than the basic stages. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you have three steps in the process instead of two—you get one extra stage to work out some of the kinks. Machop is definitely one of those basics that gets better with age. Look at him, for goodness’ sake—you can see ribcage lines! And those bloodshot eyes! The poor thing’s barely being fed! How can you be the “Superpower Pokémon” when you’ve got no meat on your bones? Please, honey, eat a sandwich. Eat two. I insist. You are a growing boy. You need to eat. C+

067. Machoke
Best Name: Háoli (Chinese)
Type: Fighting
I find it hilarious that this design implies both that Machop grew genitals and that nature has a built-in mechanism for shame-covering. Laugh all you want at intelligent design, but that wrestling belt didn’t craft itself. I know I would consider evolving if I got a free pair of underwear out of the deal. Machoke, you need to be more careful with your exercises—it looks like you have been flexing so much that your arms are ripping open! Practice responsible weightlifting, sir. Does that hurt? It looks like it hurts. It doesn’t? Are you sure? Come back when you’ve bandaged that mess up. B

068. Machamp
Best Name: English
Type: Fighting
Let’s get this set up right now: Machamp. Goro. Eight-arm slap fight. I want this to be a thing. Use your viral mashup hoodoo-voodoo and make this happen, internet. So with that out of the way, we won’t have any more salient junctures in which to bring this next matter up, so herewith, a pronunciation dilemma I’ve always struggled with: Is the “Ma” in all three of their names supposed to be stressed? Because I’ve always stressed the final syllable, like /ma-CHOKE/ or /ma-CHAMP/. But there’s an episode of the anime called “Machoke, Machoke Man” (get a load of episode names from the anime sometime, they’re uniformly terrible), and the pun would depend on pronouncing “Machoke” with the stress on the first syllable. I don’t really care if I’ve been doing it wrong the whole time, and I’m going to keep saying it my way. I just want an ironclad answer. Anyway, I like Machamp’s design a lot, and I’m currently running a really fun Ariados + Volcarona + Machamp-EX deck (demonstrated below) in the TCGO, so I’m big on him right now. A-

069. Bellsprout
Best Name: Lǎbāyá (Chinese)
Type: Grass/Poison
Even as basic unevolved Pokémon go, Bellsprout’s always struck me as particularly fragile. I mean, one well-placed Cut from Bulbasaur and it’s no mere KO. At that point, we’re going way beyond “fainting”. You could take a butter knife to Bellsprout’s wispy midsection and it would be crossing the rainbow bridge to the big Pokémon Center in the sky. Maybe it’s just me, but I want my Pokémon built to last, even the itty-bitty teeny-weeny babies. Get your top-heavy bell head out of my lineup, Bellsprout. No scrubs. D+

070. Weepinbell
Best Name: Boustiflor (French)
Type: Grass/Poison
Let’s be real, dude: that is a terrible name for you. There is nothing sad or dolorous about Weepinbell’s aesthetic. It’s not shedding a tear, it’s not drooling in a way that could be obliquely interpreted as “weeping”. I don’t know how it got that name, unless it grows on weeping willows or something. Must have great lower body strength, since it’s apparently able to stand up under its own power. Weepins wobble but they don’t fall down. Excellent work on the O-face—Drew approves. C+

Next time: Victreebel to Slowbro

[1] People who say the word “moist” grosses them out are the same as people who say they’re afraid of clowns: it doesn’t/they aren’t, they’re just hoping it sounds like an interesting enough personality quirk that it will disguise the fact that they’re actually incredibly boring.

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