Dwayne Johnson has always been larger than life -- even when he was making his professional wrestling career debut in 1996 at Madison Square Garden in front of thousands of screaming fans, he was still the biggest thing in the ring.
The action superstar recently kicked off a new web series on his YouTube channel called The Rock Reacts, and for the premiere episode, Johnson took a trip down memory lane to his very first match almost 20 years ago.
As Johnson gives running commentary on his first match -- a pay-per-view Survivor Series event -- it's clear he's still a little embarrassed about his original stage persona, back when he went by the stage name Rocky Maivia and wore a Samoan/Hawaiian-themed costume (that didn't exactly age well).
The Rock lovingly mocks himself for everything from showboating for the wrong camera to his less-than-timeless hair style ("I've got a f**king Chia Pet on my head as a haircut!").
One of the most endearing aspects of the commentary is Johnson's coy smile as he gives a play-by-play of the action and doesn't even try to pretend like it's real.
"Jake the Snake [Roberts] just got hit, by what looks to be a heart punch," The Rock said, trying not to laugh.
However, Johnson never once shows anything but love for his former WWE (previously, WWF) co-stars, praising them for being "amazing athletes" and really great people. And, while the bouts may have been pre-determined and the punches may have been pulled, Johnson explains that everything hinges on the very real and very unpredictable whims of the audience, and that cannot be faked.
"I had no idea what the finish of this match was going to be until maybe an hour before the match," Johnson recounted. "So we set it up where, ultimately, the final three competitors were two bad guys against one good guy, and that was me."
Johnson went on to explain that the moment he became the last good guy standing, facing off against two famous villains, his entire career hinged on the reaction from the massive audience.
"22,000 people in Madison Square Garden, they looked at the two bad guys, they looked at the new rookie and in that moment, 22,000 people can either go, 'S**t! He's gonna get his ass kicked!' Or they go, 'S**t! He's gonna get his ass kicked, but you know what? We like that dude, and we want him to kick ass too.'"
"22,000 people did something in this moment that defined my career and literally changed my life, in one night," he continued. "It's something you can't write, it's something in wresting you can't write, you can't script it… because you can't script how people are gonna react to something. And that thing was 22,000 people started chanting my name."