Baby Doll (Wrestler - Nickla Ann Roberts-Byrd)

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Becoming Baby Doll


Born on February 13, 1962, in Lubbock, Texas, Nickla Ann Roberts-Byrd, better known as "Baby Doll", was destined to be in the wrestling world. Her father, Nick Roberts, was an established wrestler, and her three brothers also ventured into the sport, so the smell of sweat and the roar of the crowd were familiar comforts to Nickla.

When Nickla was 21, she was given an opportunity to move to the forefront of wrestling as a valet. She began working for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), one of the most significant wrestling organizations of the time, where she became associated with prominent wrestlers such as Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair. 

Wrestling was still very much a man's world in the 1980s, but Nickla wasn't about to let that stop her. She took the ring name "Baby Doll", a nickname that beautifully contrasted with the fierce, fearless woman she was becoming. One of the turning points of Baby Doll's career was her pairing with Tully Blanchard. Their on-screen chemistry was electric, and the duo quickly became fan favorites.

Later in her career, Baby Doll also had a stint with Dusty Rhodes, one of the legendary figures of wrestling. Their partnership gave her even more exposure and helped solidify her place in wrestling history.



Baby Doll and Ric Flair


Ric Flair, renowned for his flamboyant style and quick-witted dialogue, found in Baby Doll an ally who could match his intensity. As Flair's valet, Baby Doll often played an integral role in his matches, using her cunning to ensure his victories.

What was captivating about their alliance was not just their combined impact during the wrestling matches but also their on-screen chemistry. Together, they made wrestling more than a physical contest; it became a theatrical performance. They understood the importance of storytelling in wrestling and used it to their advantage, making each match a narrative filled with suspense, drama, and, of course, an ample display of their wrestling prowess.


Unforgettable Matches


From standing by the side of Ric Flair to supporting the rebellious Four Horsemen, Baby Doll's career was replete with unforgettable moments. One such instance was when Baby Doll teamed up with The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, facing off against the notorious Midnight Express. The audience cheered when she delivered a powerful slap to Jim Cornette, the manager of Midnight Express, marking the match as one of the most memorable moments of her career.

But the drama didn't end there. Baby Doll also had her share of memorable clashes with the legendary Tully Blanchard. Despite their eventual alliance, the early days of their relationship were marked by fierce rivalry. One standout moment was when Baby Doll, in a dramatic turn of events, hit Blanchard with a loaded purse during a heated match. This unexpected move not only won the match for her team but also earned her the admiration of fans.

Then, there was the unforgettable arm wrestling match between Baby Doll and the Mouth of The South, Jimmy Hart. Against the backdrop of a roaring crowd, Baby Doll, with her sheer determination and strength, managed to secure a win against Hart. 

Let's not forget her time with the Four Horsemen, one of the most formidable wrestling factions of all time. Baby Doll, despite being the only female member, stood tall and proud, matching her male counterparts in intensity and charisma. Her stint with the Horsemen, especially her alliance with Ric Flair, saw some of the most exciting wrestling storylines of the era, adding another chapter of glory to her illustrious career.



Rivalries and Interactions


But partnerships weren't the only notable aspect of Baby Doll's interactions. Equally important were the rivalries she was involved in, which added spice and drama to her career narrative. One notable rivalry was with wrestler Jim Cornette. This feud became a major plotline, capturing the attention of fans nationwide. Despite the intense animosity on screen, these rivalries were a testament to Baby Doll's ability to create compelling narratives and engage audiences.

Interestingly, her relationships were not confined to her role as a valet. Baby Doll also had important interactions with other female wrestlers of her time, providing mutual support and paving the way for future generations of women in the industry. Her interactions with Missy Hyatt, for example, added another dimension to her career, highlighting the significance of female camaraderie in a largely male-dominated industry.


Baby Doll's Personal Life


Beyond the bright lights and roaring crowds, she led a personal life that, although less publicized, was equally captivating and meaningful. Born as Nickla Ann Roberts, the Texas native grew up surrounded by the wrestling industry. Her father, Nick Roberts, was a well-known promoter, and the wrestling world was deeply ingrained in her DNA from an early age. 

Baby Doll's personal life, like her wrestling career, was characterized by strong relationships. Her marriage to wrestler Sam Houston (real name Michael Maurice Smith) added another wrestling connection to her life, reinforcing the intertwining of her personal life with her professional career. Although their marriage didn't last, they had two daughters together, continuing the wrestling lineage into another generation.

Baby Doll also explored new ventures in her personal life. She pursued a career as a corrections officer, a path that highlighted her innate strength and resilience.

In recent years, Baby Doll has largely stepped back from the limelight. While Baby Doll's retirement from active wrestling came in the late 1980s, she never truly left the wrestling world. Even after hanging up her wrestling boots, she kept her foot in the industry door through appearances at wrestling conventions and fan events, keeping her connection to the wrestling world alive.



Recognitions and Awards


Despite the male-dominated nature of professional wrestling, Baby Doll managed to capture the attention and admiration of the wrestling world through her charismatic personality, wrestling prowess, and groundbreaking contribution to the sport.

In terms of recognition, Baby Doll was inducted into the Women's Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, a testament to her undeniable influence and impact on the sport. The Hall of Fame induction isn't merely an award; it's a symbol of recognition from the industry, an acknowledgment of the pioneering role she played in breaking down barriers for women in wrestling. Her place among the greats in the Hall of Fame ensures her legacy will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.

Aside from her Hall of Fame induction, Baby Doll also received numerous awards during her active years in wrestling. These included accolades for her in-ring performances, such as "Manager of the Year" and "Best Heel Manager," reflecting her versatility and prowess in different roles within the wrestling business. 

Baby Doll's legendary status in wrestling has not gone unnoticed, as she's been honored and recognized by the industry that she passionately served and helped shape. However, beyond these formal recognitions, perhaps her most significant award is the adoration and respect she continues to receive from wrestling fans worldwide.


Sources:


Oliver, Greg (2007). "The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels". ECW Press.
Johnson, Mike and Greg Oliver (2010). "The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams". ECW Press.
Meltzer, Dave (2004). "Tributes II: Remembering More of the World's Greatest Professional Wrestlers". Sports Publishing LLC.
Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). "WWE Encyclopedia". DK.

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