On January 6, 2001, Dwayne Johnson made a surprising and memorable appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, joining Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on stage to announce the first-ever Xbox console.
At the time, Johnson was primarily known as a professional wrestler under the name The Rock and an occasional actor, having appeared in only one film, and gaming was not as mainstream as it is today. Nevertheless, the appearance of a major wrestling star at an event typically associated with “nerds” was a unique spectacle.
During the CES presentation, Johnson spoke about the Xbox in grandiose terms, comparing the console to his larger-than-life wrestling persona.
“The Xbox is everything The Rock is. Cutting-edge, powerful, exhilarating, and like The Rock, it will be the most electrifying thing coming out this year. What The Rock is to sports entertainment to the WWF, the Xbox will be to the video game industry: a breakthrough and certainly an original.”
Dwayne Johnson Looks Back On Xbox Launch
Despite Johnson’s enthusiasm and the memorable nature of the announcement, the Xbox ultimately ended up costing Microsoft more than $7 billion in losses. However, the company did not give up on the console, and over time, Xbox has become one of the biggest names in the gaming industry. Today, the Xbox brand encompasses a range of console systems, accessories, and services, and is a significant part of Microsoft’s overall business.
On the 21st anniversary of the CES announcement in 2021, Johnson took to social media to reminisce about the event.
“Was a fun day at CES, introducing the world to the very first ever, ‘OG @Xbox’ with Bill,” he tweeted. “We were the coolest cats in Vegas, talking shit about our broadband capabilities and fanny packs.”
It is clear that Johnson has fond memories of the experience, and it is likely that many fans and followers of the wrestling and gaming worlds will also remember the moment. The announcement of the first Xbox was certainly an unexpected and unusual occurrence which remains a memorable moment in the history of the gaming industry 22 years later.