It’s only been two days of the new and improved Undisputed on FS1. And what once was a very formulaic “Embrace Debate” sports show has now turned into something else entirely.
Gone is Shannon Sharpe as the central foil to Skip Bayless (and host Jen Hale) and in is a rotating panel of former athletes and commentators. The first panelists spotlighted on Undisputed this week is a trio of notable NFL veterans with television experience and big personalities – Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, and Richard Sherman. Given they’ve been featured right out of the gate, this seems like the main set that Fox wants to highlight with football season now upon us. With the change in personnel and a promise from Fox that it wanted to move away from the tiresome debate model, we expected things to look a little different.
What we’ve actually seen is a complete transformation where Undisputed has become unrecognizable.
Instead of being the main protagonist, Bayless has been relegated to something of a moderator – outtalked and outtaked by all three of his new colleagues. When Sherman, Irvin, and Johnson get going, it’s hard for Bayless to even get a substantive word in at all.
That was incredibly apparent during this viral moment from Tuesday’s program where Sherman unleashed a take that playing cornerback was more challenging than playing wide receiver. The takes were so hot they were enough to cause Johnson and Irvin to leap out of their chairs in disbelief and take the show totally off the rails.
Meanwhile, Bayless just sat idly by, largely watching in silence.
On Day 2 of the new Undisputed, we almost had a wide receiver walk-off after Richard Sherman said playing corner was harder. pic.twitter.com/qb9PVypns5
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) August 29, 2023
And this is just Day 2! By the end of this week, Irvin may actually spontaneously combust on live television!
While it remains to be seen just how this show evolves over time and whether or not it can actually sustain this kind of energy, the new-look Undisputed has at least one prominent fan – Colorado head coach and former teammate of Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders.
I ABSOLUTELY love what @RealSkipBayless has done with his show. @RSherman_25 Keyshawn & @michaelirvin88 makes for must see TV. @stephenasmith & @ShannonSharpe are coming with it as well. Let the games begin baby!!! #CoachPrime
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) August 28, 2023
If you’ve been watching or following Bayless’ career in pioneering the Embrace Debate movement, it might be a welcome sight to see a program exist where his controversial and contrarian takes finally aren’t at the center of the conversation. The question is whether or not Bayless will try to take back the reins of what is believed to be his showcase or whether Fox might see the reaction to the new unchained Undisputed and let it fly.