For viewers of First Take, Chris Russo’s Wednesday appearances have become appointment television.

Watching the longtime radio host and Stephen A. Smith try to out-yell one another might sound like a nightmare for many, many sports fans. Bot others are appreciating the chance to see Smith finally find a rival who can match his hot take commitment. And decibel level.

This Wednesday’s showdown featured lots of loud noises as the two went head-to-head over the MLB lockout. While Stephen A. sided with the players, Russo took up the mantle for the owners, and fireworks ensued.

From there, they sparred on whether or not Kyler Murray deserved a contract extension, with Russo sending Smith into fits while Molly Qerim could only watch in silent horror.

The pièce de résistance, however, had to be their argument over whether or not Steph Curry is among the ten-best NBA players of all time. When Smith said that he thinks Curry is, Mad Dog went full Mad Dog.

After Russo dares Stephen A. to say that he’d choose Curry over Larry Bird or Magic Johnson with the game on the line, the sheer force of Mad Dog’s internal combustion seems to cause his earpiece to stop working, potentially derailing this audible trainwreck of an argument. However, it takes a lot more than shoddy equipment to keep Russo from powering through when proving he’s correct is on the line.

Again, whatever you think of Smith, Russo, and First Take, if you’re a fan of these shows (or, perhaps more likely, hate-watching them), this might just be the debate show’s most idealized form, for better or worse. And plenty of viewers seemed to feel that way.

If Smith pushed former co-host Max Kellerman out because he felt like he needed a stronger rival sitting across from him at the First Take desk, all signs point to him being correct, at least when it comes to the interest and energy generated by his one-on-one weekly showdowns with Russo.

You have to wonder if someone at ESPN isn’t trying to make Mad Dog the permanent co-host. And you also have to wonder if that person is Stephen A. himself.

[Jimmy Traina, ESPN]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to