Brooke Hogan was just 12 years old when she watched Triple H "marry" Stephanie McMahon on an episode of "Monday Night Raw." A self-professed “girly girl,” she vowed then that her dream wedding would never take place on a wrestling show.
“I still wanted my flowers and my church and my beautiful ceremony with all my friends and family there,” said Hogan, 24, the daughter of pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan. “I kind just kind of let go of my dream when I had the man that I love standing in front of me saying, ‘Baby, you want to do it next week in the middle of the ring?'”
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That man is Bully Ray, the native Long Islander who went on to achieve wrestling greatness as one-half of the decorated tag team the Dudley Boys/Team 3D.
The unlikely wrestling couple is set to exchange their vows on this Thursday’s edition of TNA "Impact Wrestling" on Spike at 8 p.m. Proving that she is her father’s daughter, Hogan was sure to keep a straight face when promoting her wrestling world wedding in an interview Wednesday.
“This is my family. The wrestling business is my family. So why not do it right in front of God and everybody, literally?” said Hogan, who drew comparisons between her betrothed and the other man in her life.
“I came from my father being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. It’s really hard to fill those shoes. And it’s really intriguing to me to find a man who knows the same business as my father, knows how it works and is savvy in it and intelligent, not just as a performer. He’s so smart. That’s one of the things that really turns me on about him,” Hogan said of Bully Ray, 41, who is a lot leaner and more muscular than the “Bubba Ray Dudley” she watched on television as a child. “When I first started working with TNA I didn’t even recognize him because he looked so different. I was like, ‘God. He’s hot. Look at his arms. I love his face. You know, he’s Italian too… I was like, ‘I bet he makes some really good meatballs.'”
It’s been nearly a year since Hogan joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as the on-air head of the “Knockouts” women’s division. After facing some early doubts from fans and colleagues about her place in the company, Hogan said she believes she’s proven herself.
“I think it’s been my willingness to spend time with the girls. Of course they were going to be like, ‘Who is this girl? She’s younger than us. She’s totally inexperienced,’” Hogan said. “But what they can rest easy knowing is that I had the two best mentors in the wrestling business ever. I had Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan over my house every day. I heard the phone calls. I went to the matches. I saw the business meetings. I saw everything. So what people think I don’t know, I actually do know, and it’s second nature to me.”
Hogan thinks it’s no coincidence that in the case of both her father and McMahon, it was their daughters, and not their sons, that showed a greater aptitude for and interest in the wrestling business.
“It’s such an age old story of girls being daddy’s girls,” Hogan said. “I think being the girl of such a huge father figure, you want to be that tomboy . . . because you are so close to your dad.”
And, Hogan predicts, she may follow in her father’s footsteps even further. The 6-foot-1 Hogan noted that, “You don’t grow up with Hulk Hogan as your dad and not learn a few moves,” and said she’d “love” to one day have her father stand in her corner during a match.
But if she ever does transition into a career in the ring, she said she’ll be more careful than her dad was when he began his wrestling career.
“You have to remember that you’ve got to be smart when you’re throwing your body around. My dad was 23, 24 years old with tons of testosterone and adrenaline just going buck wild,” said Hogan, whose dad, 59, has endured multiple back surgeries and lives with constant pain. “Now that I have him watching out for me. He says, ‘Listen, when you do this leg drop or you take this bodyslam, you have to protect yourself.’ He’s making me think about what I’m doing more than just throwing myself out there and being a boy.”
Growing up around wrestling performers also meant growing up with their children, and Hogan said she vividly remembers hanging out with Eric Bischoff’s son Garrett — now a TNA wrestler — when he was a "snot-nosed" kid who wore a backwards baseball cap.
“David Flair is a very close friend of ours. I remember sitting there watching WrestleManias with him. Our moms would sit us down in front of the TV together and we’d watch out dads get bloody. He was the one who would tell me, ‘Don’t worry. It’s ketchup! It’s ketchup!’” Hogan said. “I learned later on that it wasn’t ketchup.”