Actually, the reason why I liked this episode was because it's quite "different" from other gym battles. Jesse GS said that "it just didn't feel like Pokemon", but I think it adds more to Pokemon. A lot of the episodes I've seen followed a certain setup:
1. Ash & co. are wandering happily along on their Pokemon journey
2. They meet a person, Pokemon, or situation new to them
3. Team Rocket wants to steal a Pokemon
4. Team Rocket comes up with a ridiculous idea of how their boss will be pleased with the Pokemon
5. Brock falls in love with a pretty girl
6. Misty or Max pulls Brock's ear
7. Jessie and/or James does something stupid
8. Ash & co. find something about the Pokemon/person/situation
9. Team Rocket tries to steal the Pokemon mentioned before
10. The Pokemon is freed
11. Team Rocket starts a Pokemon battle.
12. Victreebel or Cacnea hugs James painfully.
13. Ash wins the battle (especially w/ Pikachu)
14. "Team Rocket's Blasting off again!!"
15. Ash & co. thank the new person then continue on their journey.
This episode, however, doesn't follow a single step of that format.
I like this episode, every scene of it, for the most part. And the entire arc, in that matter, is probably the best. In fact, "Abra and the Psychic Showdown" is on my list of favorite episodes because it was mysterious and funny at the same time.
-I liked Team Rocket's encounter with Haunter. Ash wasn't even there, making it even more exciting. Haunter kept making faces at Jessie and James while both were hanging from the edge of a building(?), and Jessie, who was on top, tried not to laugh. She finally did, letting go, and James asked her what was so funny. That was hilarious! Plus, at the end, both of them were covered in cement then ran off across the street. I always love episodes where it shows a funny thing about what happened to Team Rocket at the end.
-I, in fact, liked the "battles", especially the one before the one where Ash won. In the first one, he tried to use Haunter in the battle, but Haunter had disappeared, apparently afraid of psychics. (I thought that a paradox too--a ghost being scared?! I thought Haunter did all the scaring!) Then Ash went into a hilarious trauma about Haunter not being found. And, of course, Misty and Brock were turned into dolls. (However, I did enjoy the dollhouse scene more in "Abra and the Psychic Showdown".) Anyways, in the second battle, I thought it was funny. First, Ash called out Haunter again, but Haunter went missing! Then, Ash called out his other Pokemon, but they backed against the wall and shook their heads in unison, which I thought was funny. Pikachu finally decided to battle, and Ash thanked him in a funny way, with beady eyes and everything... And I also laughed, of course, at the funny faces Haunter made while Sabrina never laughed, until that bomb came and Sabrina finally laughed... Of course, I did think it was weird that her father declared Ash the winner of the battle just because Kadabra laughed too hard to continue...
Overall, that episode is a favorite for me, and "Abra and the Psychic Showdown" as well. And in addition, Sabrina's my favorite gym leader, and Psychic is my favorite Pokemon type...