At the All-Valley Under-18 Karate Tournament, Daniel LaRusso fights Johnny Lawrence. Johnny's sensei John Kreese tells Johnny to sweep the leg. Johnny does so, but Daniel defeats him anyway with a crane kick.
Johnny wakes up to his alarm, gets up, takes a drink of stale beer, and gets dressed. He makes himself breakfast and turns on the TV, and watches a movie. As Johnny leaves his apartment, new arrival Miguel Diaz comes over and says that they're from Riverside, and asks if Johnny is having trouble with his water pressure. Johnny tells him that nothing there works and he doesn't want to talk to anyone. He gets in his car and drives off, and sees a billboard for LaRusso Auto Group. Disgusted, Johnny turns up the radio and drives on.
Working through the day, Johnny gets by as a maintenance worker at expensive homes. One woman complains that he put the TV in the wrong place, and says that it was Johnny's fault. He says that he can't do it until the morning and tells her to stop bitching at him. The woman complains that he called her a bitch, reports him to his boss Mike, and Mike fires Johnny. Exasperated, Johnny turns on his car radio and hears a radio advertisement by Daniel for his auto group. Johnny turns it to another channel.
That night, Johnny stops at a mini mart and buys a slice of pizza. Miguel comes in and gets some medicine for his grandmother, and the clerk complains in Spanish to Miguel. Miguel tells Johnny that he doesn't want to know, but finally admits that the clerk said that Johnny has a tiny wang. Johnny says the same to the clerk, tosses a bill at him, and walks out.
In the parking lot, four teenagers pull up and walk in past Johnny. He sits down and eats his pizza, and a female store owner tells him to finish up and beat it. She figures that he's hustling and is homeless, and Johnny points out his car nearby. The four teenagers chase Miguel out and one of them shoves Miguel down. They gather around him, take his medicine, and pour it on his head. The teenager calls the leader Kyler an asshole, and they beat him. When they knock him on Johnny's car, Johnny objects and tells them to leave Miguel alone. Kyler recognizes Johnny as the man who cleaned his father's septic tank. He shoves Johnny, and Johnny takes him down with one kick and pulls a groin muscle.
The other three teens come at Johnny, who takes them down as Miguel and the owner watch. Johnny defeats them all, but the leader grabs him and punches him. Johnny finally tosses him down, but they come at him again and he chokes Kyler. The police pull up, mace Johnny, and arrest him.
The next morning, Johnny is released and goes back to his apartment. Miguel is waiting, and greets him, and thanks him for intervening. The teenager asks Johnny to teach him karate, but Johnny refuses saying it's not his problem and he doesn't do karate anymore. Miguel suggests that he open his own dojo, but Johnny advises him not to be so annoying. When Johnny goes into his apartment, he finds his stepfather Sid and his nurse Rhonda there. Sid says that he bailed Johnny out--again--and looks at Johnny's photo of his mother. Johnny orders him to get out, and Sid hands him a check and says that he's tired of taking care of Johnny. When Johnny tears up the check, Sid yells at Rhonda to get them into a restaurant. As he goes, Sid tells Johnny to get his life in order and leaves.
That night, Johnny sits in his darkened apartment, drinks beer, and watches a movie. He remembers his life as a teenager when he was a respected karate fighter, and how he felt when he beat up the teenagers. Daniel's commercial for his auto group comes on, and he plays up his karate reputation. Furious, Johnny finally throws a beer can at the TV screen and drives off, drinking and remembering the past and how he was respected and feared until Miyagi showed up and defended Daniel, and then taught Daniel to fight and eventually defeat Johnny in the tournament.
Johnny drives to the All Valley Sports Arena and walks past the gate. He remembers Kreese confronting him in the parking lot after the 1984 tournament, breaking his trophy and choking him. Three teenage girls in their car hit his car, and he runs over and demands to know what they're doing. Panicked, they drive off when Johnny yells at them. When he tries to drive after them, his car won't start and the air bag goes off in his face. Johnny calls a tow truck driver who takes it to Daniel's auto group to repair.
The next day, Johnny takes a cab to the auto group, pull up his hood, and goes in to get his car. He goes to the cashier's desk to pay, and the receptionist says that it will take a couple of weeks. Johnny insists that his car wasn't supposed to go there and he wants it to go to a different body shop. A salesman dealing with a couple goes to get Daniel, who wants to deal with them personally. Johnny leaves rather than see him, but Daniel sees him and calls to him. He hugs his "friend", and calls over all of the salesmen to introduce him. Daniel says that when he first moved there from New Jersey, the two of them got into it a little bit. Johnny claims that Daniel moved on his girl, and Daniel says that she wasn't "his girl" but dismisses it as water under the bridge.
The salesmen remember that Daniel kicked Johnny's ass, and Johnny says that it was an illegal kick. The receptionist comes over and explains that Johnny wants his car to go to a different body shop, and Daniel suggests that Johnny get an upgrade. Johnny refuses, and Daniel offers to do it on the house. Johnny refuses his "charity", and Daniel warns that it will cost more than the car is worth. As he goes to his office to get something for Johnny, the girl who hit Johnny's car--Daniel's daughter, Samantha--comes in and hugs her father.
Johnny starts to leave, but Daniel comes over and gives him one of the bonsai trees that he gives to every customer. He says that he doesn't blame Johnny for what happened in '84 and they're better off with Cobra Kai, Daniel tells him that it's good to see him, and walks away. Johnny leaves, tossing the bonsai tree on the cement.
Back at the apartment building, Johnny asks Miguel if he's ready because there's no turning back. He says that he's going to be Miguel's sensei and he'll teach him the style of karate that was taught to hi. Later after getting Sid's check from the trash, Johnny goes to a mall storefront and buys a facility to start his own Cobra Kai studio. He paints the motto on the wall: "Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy",
Written by Gadfly on Jul 22, 2018