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.
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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?'
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 Thursdays edition of TNA "Impact Wrestling" on Spike at 8 p.m. Proving that she is her fathers 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. Its really hard to fill those shoes. And its 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. Hes so smart. Thats 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 didnt even recognize him because he looked so different. I was like, God. Hes hot. Look at his arms. I love his face. You know, hes Italian too I was like, I bet he makes some really good meatballs.'
Its been nearly a year since Hogan joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as the on-air head of the Knockouts womens division. After facing some early doubts from fans and colleagues about her place in the company, Hogan said she believes shes proven herself.
I think its been my willingness to spend time with the girls. Of course they were going to be like, Who is this girl? Shes younger than us. Shes 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 dont know, I actually do know, and its second nature to me.
Hogan thinks its 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.
Its such an age old story of girls being daddys 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 fathers footsteps even further. The 6-foot-1 Hogan noted that, You dont grow up with Hulk Hogan as your dad and not learn a few moves, and said shed 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 shell be more careful than her dad was when he began his wrestling career.
You have to remember that youve got to be smart when youre 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. Hes making me think about what Im 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 Bischoffs 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 wed watch out dads get bloody. He was the one who would tell me, Dont worry. Its ketchup! Its ketchup! Hogan said. I learned later on that it wasnt ketchup.