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The Kiss of Death: The Unsolved Mystery of The Dusty Rhodes Envelope

Brian Damage

On this blog we love looking back at storylines that had no actual conclusion, largely due to the company realising it wasn’t working. This latest piece looks at one such storyline: what was in that envelope that Baby Doll carried around that spooked out Dusty Rhodes?

In the annals of pro wrestling history…the business is littered with angles, gimmicks and storylines that were left unresolved never to be seen or heard from again. In many of those instances, fans will just forget about the dropped angle just as quick as it was canceled. There are those rare instances, however, when an abandoned angle was so good…that it remained in the memories of wrestling fans for years after it was scrapped.

One such angle, was the unsolved mystery of ‘The Perfect 10’ Baby Doll blackmailing ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes with a large brown envelope. It was a very brief storyline that captivated many National Wrestling Alliance fans. What exactly was in that envelope? Why did the contents of that envelope leave the often outspoken Dusty Rhodes speechless? Where was the angle going? What was the end result?

The angle itself came together in 1988 and was the creation of then booker/wrestler Dusty Rhodes. By this time, Jim Crockett Promotions had been struggling financially and trying to stay afloat. Crockett needed an angle that would not only cause controversy and create a stir…but also generate interest into the struggling product. Dusty devised an angle that would put ‘The American Dream’ in a new light. It would involve Dusty, newly acquired Larry Zbyszko and Zbyszko’s manager/valet….Baby Doll.

Zbyszko had just won the NWA Western States Heritage Championship from Barry Windham and was looking to add Dusty’s United States title to his collection next. Larry cut a promo and demanded that Dusty surrender and hand him the US title or suffer severe repercussions. Zbyszko’s valet Baby Doll had a secret that only her and Dusty knew about and if Dusty didn’t comply with Zbyszko’s demands…she would reveal to the entire world the secret

Baby Doll continued to say that not even Larry Z. knew about this secret…so when she whispered it into his ear…a shocked look came over Zbyszko and he blurted out that “Dusty should be in jail!”

When Jim Ross and Bob Caudle interviewed a defiant Dusty Rhodes…Baby Doll showed up with a large envelope and told Dusty that if he didn’t grant Zbyszko a US title match…she would show the world the contents of the envelope. Baby Doll allowed Dusty to look inside and when he saw it, Dusty looked shocked and worried and then walked off the set without uttering another word.

That was the angle in a nutshell…because soon after that was filmed…Baby Doll was fired by Jim Crockett Jr. According to Baby Doll in interviews years later…she said she was fired from JCP because her husband…Sam Houston…was hired by the WWF and Crockett felt it was a conflict of interest. Larry Zbyszko on the other hand, has another theory. According to Larry Z, Jim Crockett Jr and Dusty Rhodes wanted Baby Doll to give Rhodes a big passionate kiss after he saw the contents of the envelope. It was to be symbolic as a sort of “Kiss of Death” on Dusty’s career.

Baby Doll had some serious issues with the kiss angle because she was married to Houston who was allegedly very overprotective and jealous. Houston didn’t want his wife kissing another man and Baby Doll wanted to respect her husband’s wishes. Baby Doll decided to compromise…giving Dusty a small peck near his lips and walking away. The results were Dusty and Jim Crockett being allegedly so incensed with her insubordination that she was fired on the spot. With Baby Doll a key cog in the entire angle now out…it just didn’t make sense for Crockett to continue the angle and it was dropped with absolutely no conclusion.

While the angle was dropped completely…it still didn’t stop wrestling fans from wondering what exactly was in that envelope? According to Baby Doll, the original plan was for the envelope to contain pictures of a married Dusty having an extramarital affair with another woman….perhaps a black woman (Which I guess was still controversial in 1988?) That idea was eventually scrapped when Jim Crockett Jr felt that it was too risky to have one of his more popular stars portrayed in such a negative light.

Baby Doll said a few other ideas got tossed around with Dusty being photographed in several silly ways. Some of the pics included Dusty groping a naked statue, Dusty in what appears to be bribing a police officer and Dusty dressed in goofy costumes. The pictures still exist as Baby Doll still has them in her possession and recently discovered them after a move.

Whether or not the angle would have been successful if Baby Doll wasn’t fired is anyone’s guess. Regardless, it certainly still gets fans curious as it did close to 30 years ago.