So this is the last review for this Christmas break.
This gym battle marks a changing of the guard in terms of Ash's strongest/star Sinnoh pokemon, with Chimchar taking over for Buizel.
The end of Chimchar's and Bronzor's battle completely reminded me of the way Meowth's and Pikachu's battle ended at the Hoenn League-except the difference here is that Ash's pokemon is the one who manages to stay on its feet. Ash says at the end of this battle that Gliscor's spunk is what allowed it to win its battle against Bastiodon, and the same goes for both of Chimchar's wins in this match. There were times in this match where I felt there was a difference b/w the way Ash's pokemon cared for him and the way Ash treated them in this match; and what I mean is that Chimchar, Buizel, and Gliscor are both battling to get their trainer's recognition for what's like the first time. Ash, though, has done this gym battle journey quite a few times. And there were a few times that I really could feel the contrast in experience levels. Like when Chimchar walks back to Ash after having beaten Bronzor; it's totally proud of itself, and it feels like it really accomplished something. But Ash has been in this position before, and I think this was especially demonstrated with the way he instantly urged Chimchar to get up once it and Bronzor had fallen down as he was aware that Roark was watching closely to see if the pokemon would be able to continue. Ash has won before in this situation, as well, and I really did not sense overwhelming enthusiasm from Ash for the wins, unlike his pokemon (Chimchar's happiness is a bit of a quiet happiness, I think). Ash's pokemon grow from this battle because this is their first time in this sort of situation; Ash really does not, since this is pretty much a standard gym battle for him.
Once Buizel faints, Ash becomes much more decisive in his battling style, catching Byron by surprise as he quickly subs in Chimchar and lands a flamethrower hit. It's hard to know whether Ash purposely had Chimchar use Dig to weaken the battlefield to lead to Steelix causing a collapse. I want to say he did, b/c otherwise his moves seem pretty stupid (using Dig again right after Steelix had proven it could counter it). The writers really aren't clear on that, though.
Ash's finishing move at the last gym was having Chimchar get behind Drifblim, allowing it to land a clean hit b/c Drifblim could not react in time. Byron proves to be much better at countering that tactic. Bronzor is able to dodge Chimchar's flamethrower earlier in the match, and also Gliscor has trouble landing a clean hit that way against Bastiodon. Ash starts off the latter battle trying to get Byron to lower his guard by first having Gliscor use a weak move (Byron blocks with Iron Defense) and then attacking with Fire Fang, but Byron is ready with Flash Cannon to land a pretty nice hit. This allows Bastiodon to really take command at the start, before Ash uses Gliscor's gliding ability to dodge a flash cannon (I think) and land on Bastiodon to get in a couple of Fire Fang's. Bastiodon knocks Gliscor off and has a clean look at a Flash Cannon, but once again Ash takes advantage of Gliscor's physical construction, this time having its tail knock Bastiodon off balance. Ash then makes a gamble of a move (like when he had Turtwig try to use Razor Leaf as defense against Rampardos's Head Smash at he first gym; though what Ash was trying to accomplish here, it's hard to know), going for a power struggle with Gliscor's X-Scissor, but Gliscor loses it easily, and Gliscor takes a tough hit. This is where you'd understand if a KO had occurred, but Gliscor hangs strong. We have a repeat of the sequence earlier where Gliscor dodges an attack by gliding away from it, and Gliscor lands the finishing Fire Fang (Ash uses Sand Attack to mask Gliscor's behind attack, having realized that the tactic needed something else to really work).
So Ash could easily have lost this battle; there were definitely instances where a Chimchar or Gliscor KO would have been believable. But his pokemon hang strong (and it feels like they hang strong b/c they want to prove something to Ash; this is Gliscor's first gym battle, and Chimchar has also been training extremely hard the past few episodes), and that's why he wins. There were also 2 crucial dodges Chimchar made to avoid Steelix's Iron Tail, and Gliscor made 2 similar types of dodges against Bastiodon's Flash Cannon (although I find Gliscor's dodges believable, since the force of the attack would have allowed it to glide away, I think). I really think what Ash says at the end is appropriate: Gliscor's (and Chimchar's, too) spunk, and not his tactics, really won the battle.