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If Team Skull is made up of former trial-goers, where are their Z-Rings?

A Solidly Ossified Braincase
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I've been replaying the Alola games, and this occurred to me. Obviously it's well-known by now that at least some of Team Skull's composition is people who failed to complete their island challenges, and as a result, became aimless and disaffected to the point that they now interfere with and try to spoil Alolan traditions like the trials. But presumably, if they were once trial-goers themselves, then they should all have their own Z-Rings too, no? At least, I personally always got the impression that every trial-goer is issued one (except for Guzma, because he was "too strong"... or so we're told), since the objective of the trials is to collect Z-Crystals. (Never mind the question of how the kahunas and the tapu are able to maintain for hundreds of years a supply of Sparkling Stones and Z-Crystals despite them being remnants of Necrozma's body and thus surely a limited resource?)

I can't really imagine that people who are willing to steal, sell off, and even kill other peoples' Pokémon would feel compelled to honor some "code" that perhaps says you must turn in your Z-Ring if you fail to complete the island challenge, which would otherwise be my first assumption.

And I get that GF wanted Team Skull to be a low-stakes meme team and all that, so, fine... but like, you could've at least let Plumeria use Z-Power. After all, she's the person who gives us the Poisonium Z! Why hasn't she been using that this whole time? Instead, it seems like she only obtains a Z-Ring during the post-game, after Team Skull has disbanded.
 
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at least some of Team Skull's composition is people who failed to complete their island challenges, and as a result, became aimless and disaffected to the point that they now interfere with and try to spoil Alolan traditions like the trials.
Here's some theories:
  • The Z-rings are symbolic of Alola's traditions, hence why Skull members got rid of theirs.
  • Guzma required new Skull members to get rid of their Z-ring as a way to maintain his power. Wouldn't want to get blindsided by an unexpected Z-move from some challenger to his leadership.
  • Alternatively, Guzma takes all Z-crystals from the team's members for himself, therefore there is no reason for Skull members to have a ring.
  • The Z-ring is confiscated if one fails their island challenge.
  • It clashes with their outfits and/or looks uncool to them.
 
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I don't think they throw they away, i think they just don't use them. Look at Plumeria, she still has hers, but doesn't use it until after the Lusamine arc.
 
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Another option is that they didn't even complete the first trial, as it requires some patience, so they wouldn't have any use for the ring.
 
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I was under the impression that not every trialgoer gets a z ring (at least not at first). Kind of the same way how SwSh not all of the champion's cup rematch participants have dynamax bands. The game (SM, USUM and SwSh) make the getting the gimmick trinket kind of a big deal and rare thing, so I assumed most people don't just get it automatically at the beginning (unless your special like the player being saved by Tapu Koko or the grandson of Kahuna like Hau) and if they fail out before they could get one, then that's just it.
 
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I was under the impression that not every trialgoer gets a z ring (at least not at first) [...] so I assumed most people don't just get it automatically at the beginning (unless your special like the player being saved by Tapu Koko or the grandson of Kahuna like Hau) and if they fail out before they could get one, then that's just it.
Bulbpedia states that:
Being a part of the rites of passage in Alola, Z-Rings are much more widely distributed in comparison to Key Stones in Kalos and Hoenn.
Considering they are a part of this rite and the rewards for completing each trial is a Z-crystal, to me it would make little sense for the Z-ring to be very exclusive. Plus, minor characters such as the special Route trainers also have Z-rings--these are probably trainers that are on or have completed their trials.
 
A Solidly Ossified Braincase
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Kind of the same way how SwSh not all of the champion's cup rematch participants have dynamax bands.
I think that's maybe reading a bit too much into a bunch of generic Trainers who don't matter.

For one thing, not giving Dynamax Bands to all of the challengers would create an unfair advantage in the Gym Leaders' favor, because it would mean that they could use Dynamax while the challengers could not - and sure, maybe you could say the Gym Leaders would opt to not use it against challengers without a Band in order to level the playing field, but in Galar, they have these big stadiums in place specifically to support Dynamax, and the crowds love to see Dynamax in action, so it's something that Rose would actually want to encourage, no? It's like the main attraction of the sport.

And what's more is, you already have to prove yourself worthy to even qualify as part of the challenge in the first place. So I think by doing that, you'd have proven yourself worthy of a Dynamax Band, too.

The game (SM, USUM and SwSh) make the getting the gimmick trinket kind of a big deal and rare thing, so I assumed most people don't just get it automatically at the beginning
Granted that the Alola games make a big deal out of it, but I think the intrigue there is less about the stone and more about the fact that Tapu Koko gave it to you in person, rather than it having to be given to you by a kahuna. The deities don't often intervene in human affairs unless they are interacting directly with the kahunas, so the fact that Koko personally stepped in to rescue you is what's remarkable. (Of course, there is also the fact that Tapu Koko was at least partially motivated by a sense of duty to protect Cosmog, too.)

SwSh dropping some Wishing Stars on you and Hop is more of a coincidence, though, and I kinda feel like it's maybe structured that way simply because they wanted to get players into the Wild Area and trying out Max Raids as quick as possible without making them go through too much mandatory procession.

or the grandson of Kahuna like Hau
Actually, since you mention it, I went back and checked - and Hau in fact doesn't get one right away. It's not until you battle him in Paniola Town that he is seen wearing one, which he says he received as a reward for passing Hala's grand trial. (Which honestly makes more sense to me, as I think "he's the kahuna's grandson so he gets special privileges" feels too nepotistic for Alolan culture.) But I suppose that does reinforce your larger point that they don't necessarily issue the Z-Rings at the very beginning of the island challenge.
 
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Bulbpedia states that:

Considering they are a part of this rite and the rewards for completing each trial is a Z-crystal, to me it would make little sense for the Z-ring to be very exclusive. Plus, minor characters such as the special Route trainers also have Z-rings--these are probably trainers that are on or have completed their trials.
I wasn't saying they were very exclusive (although I realize my wording was very off), just that they weren't going to be handed one right off the bat if at all. Although I see now that they are more widely available which I definitely didn't know.

I think that's maybe reading a bit too much into a bunch of generic Trainers who don't matter.

For one thing, not giving Dynamax Bands to all of the challengers would create an unfair advantage in the Gym Leaders' favor, because it would mean that they could use Dynamax while the challengers could not - and sure, maybe you could say the Gym Leaders would opt to not use it against challengers without a Band in order to level the playing field, but in Galar, they have these big stadiums in place specifically to support Dynamax, and the crowds love to see Dynamax in action, so it's something that Rose would actually want to encourage, no? It's like the main attraction of the sport.
But that is what makes the lack of Dynamax bands on those other challenger's cups more jarring. I mean the games make a whole fuss about spikemuth not having a powerspot therefore losing a lot otourist money because people weren't as interested in non-Dynamaxed battles. So yeah, they should have one, but they don't and it takes away from the immersion IMO. Especially after the Galarian Star Tournament, showing they could do some basic Dynamax throws if they didn't want to do a custom one for all of the challengers...it really makes no sense as to why they don't. Especially because all of them are type specialists and they could've been easily showcase some of the other G-maxes and even if they don't show off a G-max, it would just add a bit more to the challenger's cup (because there have been times I went up against hardly any gym leader, rival or Leon in those rematches)


Actually, since you mention it, I went back and checked - and Hau in fact doesn't get one right away. It's not until you battle him in Paniola Town that he is seen wearing one, which he says he received as a reward for passing Hala's grand trial. (Which honestly makes more sense to me, as I think "he's the kahuna's grandson so he gets special privileges" feels too nepotistic for Alolan culture.) But I suppose that does reinforce your larger point that they don't necessarily issue the Z-Rings at the very beginning of the island challenge.
Ah, I see. I missed that point about him not having one right away. But yeah it does reinforce my point that the trial goers aren't just handed one at the beginning and it's very possible that some of the team skull members just didn't get one if they couldn't beat the trial or Kahuna. The Z-ring while more readily available (as stated by @SpinyShell ) still has to be earned so that could explain why team skull members who failed wouldn't have one. Not everyone is going to get one as not everyone is going to make it through.
 
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But that is what makes the lack of Dynamax bands on those other challenger's cups more jarring. I mean the games make a whole fuss about spikemuth not having a powerspot therefore losing a lot otourist money because people weren't as interested in non-Dynamaxed battles. So yeah, they should have one, but they don't and it takes away from the immersion IMO. Especially after the Galarian Star Tournament, showing they could do some basic Dynamax throws if they didn't want to do a custom one for all of the challengers...it really makes no sense as to why they don't. Especially because all of them are type specialists and they could've been easily showcase some of the other G-maxes and even if they don't show off a G-max, it would just add a bit more to the challenger's cup (because there have been times I went up against hardly any gym leader, rival or Leon in those rematches)
I do agree that those Gym Challengers are a weird inclusion that sort of clash with everything else. But that's kinda why I figure they're just there for the sake of padding, without much more thought being put into them. It's kind of a shame, as I feel like the remaining minor division Gym Leaders would have worked better in the post-game tournament role, and then you wouldn't even have to worry about Gigantamax overlap. (As in, which G-Max is Phoebus, the Fire specialist, supposed to use, when Centiskorch and Charizard are already the ace Pokémon of much more important characters? Of course, that's assuming that you couldn't just as easily get away with having those generic Gym Challengers relying on just regular Dynamax. Nothing says they need a G-Max ace, so frankly it's even weirder that they don't even use regular Dynamax.)
 
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I figure that they lack the self discipline to learn the proper jojo poses and thus are unable to activate Z-moves. Or perhaps they simply sold off their Z-rings for extra money.
 
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Either:
- They never got Z-Rings, Z-Bracelets, Z-anything
- They gave up on completing the trials for one reason or another
- Decided to join Team Skull and ditch the Trials + Z-Items to live a different life than what they felt was per-determined for them by previous generations.
 
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