I think Zapdos and Articuno should keep their ranking. As Aquilae proved earlier, you have a 22% chance of catching either bird at best. Even if you lower it to only 1/4 hp, it still has nearly a 20% catch rate, which is pretty damn good- it would take at most 5 minutes to catch. Plus, it Articuno does come at level 50. Articuno can also learn water pulse (a useless TM from Misty), which may come in handy on the weak pokemon in Blaine and Giovanni's gym.
I don't understand why getting TM's at the game corner is such a burden. They only cost 4000 coins at most, just buy 100 or so and win the rest. It might take me about 15 minutes to do so, which I consider a reasonable investment.