The Cobra Kai series begins with the final match of Daniel and Johnny at the end of the original Karate Kid film . “Sweep the leg,” and all. After that, we flash to present day. Johnny wakes up hungover and takes a sip of beer, getting out of bed. He fries some bologna for breakfast and heads out to work. A teenage boy, who is new to the apartment complex, asks Johnny if his water pressure is low like his is. Johnny is not interested in any conversation and makes that clear.
On his way to work, Johnny drives by a LaRusso Auto billboard in his Firebird. It is established quickly that Johnny holds a lot of resentment towards Daniel even to this day. We then see Johnny get to work, driving to different houses to do odd jobs: cleaning gutters, fixing things, mounting a TV. However, he, apparently, mounted the TV on the wrong wall. The woman who owns the house tells him to move it, and talks down go him out of frustration. He tells her to stop “bitching” at him, and that comment gets him fired from the company he worked for.
After his bad day, Johnny buys a slice of pizza from a gas station. His teenage neighbor is also at the gas station. He goes outside and sits down to eat his pizza. A homeless woman tells him that this is her hustling area, and he responds that he isn’t homeless. The boy, Miguel, starts being bullied by his classmates. Johnny ignores as one of the boys pours Pepto Bismol on Miguel’s head, but once the kid becomes more violent, Johnny steps in, beating the teens up — Miyagi style. The police show up and arrest him.
After spending a night in jail, Johnny returns and Miguel asks him if he can teach him karate. When Johnny says he can’t because he needs to find a job, Miguel suggests that Johnny open his own ‘karate school,’ which Johnny informs him is called a dojo. He isn’t down for the idea.
An old man that Johnny refers to as ‘Sid’ raids Johnny’s fridge, and Johnny asks why he’s here. Sid says he bailed Johnny out of jail, again, and reminisces about when he had been married to Johnny’s mom. He also mentions Johnny’s kid that we’ve yet to meet. Sid hands Johnny a check, saying he’s buying himself out of Johnny’s life, but Johnny rips up the check.
Pouring alcohol into a can of RC cola, watching the movie Iron Eagle, Johnny has flashbacks to his karate days. A commercial cuts in and it’s Daniel LaRusso. The commercial has a karate theme, as Johnny ‘chops’ the prices and offers every customer a bonsai tree. He takes off driving, bottle in his hand, and stops only once he arrives at the All Valley Sports Arena. He parks and walks to the parking lot where his sensei got violent with him for only winning second place. He’s brought back to current day when a group of girls crash right into the side of his car and then speed off. He tries to get his car to start, but has no luck. When the tow truck comes, he’d given a slip to pick his car up at LaRusso Auto.
The next morning, Johnny takes a taxi to the dealership, wearing sunglasses and a hoodie in hopes that he won’t be recognized by Daniel. He quietly tells the receptionist that he’s here to pick up his car. She says it won’t be ready for a few weeks. He makes it clear that he would prefer to do his business elsewhere. He panics when someone mentions Daniel, and tells the woman he’ll come back tomorrow. As he’s making his escape, Daniel calls out his name. Daniel is actually excited to see Johnny and introduces him to his friends. None of this is a good time for Johnny, and everything Daniel says just aggravates him. Daniel takes a look at the information on Johnny’s car, and says that maybe it’s time for an upgrade and will help him look at cars. When Johnny says he just wants his car back, Daniel offers to get his repairs done for free. Johnny doesn’t want to take the offer, but Daniel shows the repairs will cost more than the car is worth. Johnny walks out when he sees Daniel’s daughter and recognizes her as one of the girls in the car.
Johnny comes home and asks Miguel if he’s ready to learn karate. He finds the ripped up check from Sid and tapes it back together. He finds a space for rent and opens Cobra Kai.