Dierks Bentley admitted a few weeks ago that co-hosting the 2016 ACM Awards with Luke Bryan was going to be a "challenge" and something that made him "a little uneasy." At the start of the show, the two men played up those nerves.

A backstage powow between Bentley and Bryan found the former misnaming the latter's song, "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day." And after Bryan welcomed Bentley to the stage, previous co-host Blake Shelton instead stole the microphone out of the new co-host's hand and joined the in-progress performance of the Bryan tune.

Shelton later gave his blessing to the new duo, however, introducing and wishing them well as they started their actual monologue.

"He's all yours now," he said to Bentley, while to Bryan, he said affectionately, "You're a dumba--."

Bryan, who was marking his fourth time as a co-host, was clearly having a great time returning as emcee. He nodded enthusiastically as Bentley said, "Bluke is over -- from now on, it's Lierks: Luke and Dierks," and also gently ribbed his new partner.

"When I got with the people at CBS, I told them I wanted a good-looking blonde with great hair," Bryan said, and in the next breath added, "I was hoping for Carrie Underwood." Bentley stood his ground, noting that when he said that he wanted someone with "white teeth and really tight pants, I was hoping for Kelsea Ballerini."

Indeed, although Bryan previously joked he was going "to assume the role of responsibility and carry Dierks through this thing," Bentley got in his own good lines. Of Tim McGraw, who was spotted backstage, he quipped, "He has a trademark on his guns. He named them 'humble' and 'kind,'" and kissed his own biceps as he said each moniker.

However, the bulk of the monologue leaned heavily on playing up Chris Stapleton's meteoric career rise, and joking about how everyone in Nashville was trying to take credit for his success.

A series of artists who've cut his songs -- including Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett and Charles Kelley (whose presence caused Bryan to quip, "Now we're getting heckled by the tall guy from Lady Antebellum") -- stood up in the audience and claimed credit for discovering Stapleton first. Rhett amusingly thanked Stapleton for his financial boost.

Underwood brought the most sass, however, and showed up the men by holding up a bedazzled Stapleton shirt (with the same design of the tee that Miranda Lambert wore at the 2015 CMAs) and claimed that she bought it in 1978: "I've basically been a walking billboard for him for, like, ever."

When Bryan pointed out that Stapleton was born in 1978, she was undeterred, saying, "Exactly. You're welcome, Chris. Boom."

As Stapleton looked on with a slightly embarrassed look, Bryan then asked, "Is there anybody out there that wants to take credit for Chris Stapleton's career?" which caused the entire arena to rise for a standing ovation.

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