Poliwrath has a very unique and valuable typing, resisting Dark-, Rock-, Ice-, and Fire-type attacks, which are all very common types in the UU metagame, not to mention that it's capable of absorbing Water-type attacks for 25% HP recovery. Poliwrath has no big flaws stat-wise, but this balance is also what kills it as a potential standard. Usually, Pokemon need to hit hard or take hits really well to be very successful, but in this case, Poliwrath is more of a middleman. If you put its EVs where its purposes lie, it will certainly pull its weight for you in a standard team.
Poliwrath is one of the bulkiest Fighting-types available and also has the benefit of having a secondary STAB in Water to work with. Basically, the strategy of this set is to send Poliwrath into something that it can force out, such as Registeel or Regirock, and set up a Substitute. Your next move would depend on your opponent's switch-in.
This set has many viable options to go in the last two slots. The choice between Waterfall and Ice Punch is indeed a tough selection; Waterfall grants decent coverage and STAB, while Ice Punch provides much better super effective type coverage against Pokemon like Altaria and Venusaur. However, both can be used if you are not a fan of Encore, Bulk Up, or Hypnosis. Encore is an excellent move for Poliwrath to use, as it gives it an opportunity to Encore a move like Iron Head from Registeel or Wish from Chansey, allowing Poliwrath to score a free Substitute. Bulk Up allows Poliwrath to set up on weaker physical attackers, such as Regirock and Steelix. It also helps Poliwrath make unbreakable Substitutes on the physical side and OHKO a good portion of the metagame with its powerful STAB Focus Punch. Hypnosis, although not mentioned, is great to hit Pokemon like Slowbro or Venusaur who resist both of Poliwrath's STAB moves. It's a great way to temporarily take Poliwrath's counters out of the game, although the 60% accuracy may be risky. If these three options seem unappealing, Ice Punch can take their place.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Poliwrath can be a very dangerous bulky sweeper, setting up on many Pokemon while also being able to render many Pokemon helpless with Hypnosis. With a couple of Bulk Ups under its belt, Poliwrath becomes a formidable physical tank, being able to take hits and dish out hard ones as well.
The choice between STAB and coverage is always a tough choice for Poliwrath. Ice Punch hits Pokemon such as Venusaur and Altaria hard, as they resist both of Poliwrath's STAB moves, but Brick Break hits any Pokemon who isn't weak to Ice Punch harder. Return is a solid choice as well, as it grants perfect coverage with Waterfall; however, Brick Break and Ice Punch hit many more targets for super effective damage. The last slot is best used as a utility move for Poliwrath, taking advantage of placing a counter to sleep, stopping a potential set-up, or blocking status and critical hits. Hypnosis lets Poliwrath immobilize one of its common switch-ins, such as Slowbro or Uxie, keeping it away from the battle for a decent amount of turns. You can then bring in a counter without taking damage in the process. With Encore, Pokemon like Curse Registeel, Quagsire, or Gastrodon are no longer threats, because Poliwrath can Encore them as they use Curse, forcing them to switch out as Poliwrath uses Bulk Up. Substitute blocks dangerous status, such as Will-O-Wisp and Toxic, and Bulk Up can help make physically unbreakable Substitutes.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Outside of Water Absorb, Poliwrath has no way of restoring a reasonable amount of health by itself, but with the RestTalk set, Poliwrath now has a decently reliable way of gaining its health back. Sporting decent defensive stats, Poliwrath can be a viable user of the RestTalk combo, allowing it to become a tough tank and a great status absorber. Although, as with every RestTalk set, there will always be downsides. In this case, Poliwrath loses its rather decent Attack stat, becoming very weak on the attacking side and therefore turning into perfect set-up bait for Pokemon such as Feraligatr and Mismagius.
The moveset is pretty standard for Poliwrath, since using both of its STAB attacks, Waterfall and Brick Break, provides near perfect coverage, only resisted by Altaria, Slowbro, Venusaur, and Toxicroak in UU (you can use Ice Punch as an alternative option for dealing neutral or super effective damage against some these Pokemon if they cause trouble). Body Slam is another interesting option that may paralyze the opposing Pokemon. As stated before, Poliwrath's poor Attack stat with the given EVs can be solved by equipping a Life Orb, enabling it to deal slightly more damage than usual. If you want to keep Poliwrath as a bulky tank, Leftovers is the superior option as it allows for more survivability.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Poliwrath can become an extremely threatening Belly Drum sweeper when played properly, capable of sweeping entire teams who aren't ready for this threat. This set takes Poliwrath to a whole new level as a sweeper, since most of its other sets rely on improving its defensive capabilities and tanking. After pulling off a Substitute and a Belly Drum, Poliwrath's Attack and Speed stats skyrocket to an incredible Attack stat of 1076 and a great Speed stat of 393, the latter thanks to Salac Berry. Poliwrath now outspeeds everything without a Choice Scarf in the UU metagame aside from the occasional Electrode.
Waterfall and Return are recommended since that combo hits everything for neutral or super effective damage. Waterfall will obviously be the main attack of choice since it receives a valuable STAB boost and has a chance to flinch, which could help Poliwrath greatly in some cases. Return is the best alternative so Poliwrath can deal heavy damage to Pokemon who resist Water-type moves, mainly Slowbro and Milotic.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
CroCune has been considered a threatening force in the OU metagame, but now, Poliwrath brings Suicune into the UU metagame by using an identical set. This set allows Poliwrath to become a sturdy tank, a fantastic status absorber, and a threatening sweeper at the same time, being able to destroy most teams that aren't prepared for such a threat.
The main attacking choice for this set would be Waterfall, as it receives a helpful STAB boost and hits a lot of types for neutral or super effective damage, while only being resistant to Dragon-, Water-, and Grass-types. The EV spread is pretty simple; maximizing Poliwrath's HP and Special Defense helps it tank on the special side since it is boosting its Defense and not Special Defense.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Payback can be used to hit bulky Psychic- and Ghost-types, such as Uxie and Mismagius, who can cause trouble for Poliwrath in some cases. Body Slam isn't a bad option as it has a chance to cause paralysis which can help Poliwrath in terms of outspeeding crippled enemies, not to mention that it works well in conjunction with Waterfall because of the flinch rate. Counter can potentially gain a surprise KO on a physical attacker that doesn't see it coming, while Endeavor is a decent option to surprise your opponent once Poliwrath is at low health.
You may choose to use a Speed IV of 30 in order to move after opposing Poliwrath. That way, you are able to set up a Substitute and fire off Focus Punch safely. However, this is not necessary due to the fact that the only effective move Poliwrath can use against you is Brick Break, which isn't the primary option on most of Poliwrath's sets.
Checks and Counters
Poliwrath can generally be walled by any bulky Pokemon who resists or takes neutral damage from its attacks. Bulky Psychic-types are Poliwrath's biggest counters, as they have great physical bulk, resistances to Fighting-type attacks, and access to super effective STAB Psychics that will easily end Poliwrath. Slowbro is Poliwrath's number one counter, boasting a resistance to both of Poliwrath's STAB attacks and takes pathetic damage from its other moves. Uxie is a great counter, shrugging off almost anything Poliwrath throws at it, and striking back for heavy damage with Psychic or Thunderbolt.
Venusaur, Leafeon, and Tangrowth are Pokemon who can cause Poliwrath a ton of grief. The former resists both of Poliwrath's STAB moves, has access to Sleep Powder, and can destroy Poliwrath with Leaf Storm, while the latter two pack excellent physical bulk and a hard-hitting Leaf Blade and Power Whip, respectively. Jumpluff, although nowhere near as bulky as the aforementioned Grass-types, can switch into either of Poliwrath's STAB or set up moves, such as Waterfall or Substitute, and can Encore it to force Poliwrath to switch out.
Dusclops and Spiritomb can both burn Poliwrath with Will-O-Wisp, draining its effectiveness instantly, unless Poliwrath uses Rest. Weezing pulls off the same role as Dusclops and Spiritomb, except it can also hit Poliwrath with a super effective Thunderbolt. Milotic's great physical bulk and access to Recover and a super effective Hidden Power to Poliwrath can end it reasonably fast as well; it also has access to Haze to get rid of Poliwrath's Bulk Ups.