This fiery WWE Diva was a dancer for the NBA’s Miami Heat before she won the 2006 Diva Search. She made her first appearance at SummerSlam. Layla brought her unreal appeal to SmackDown before she joined ECW. In ECW, Layla joined Kelly Kelly and Brooke to form the tantalizing Extreme Expose. After the trio acrimoniously dissolved their partnership, Layla was drafted to Raw during the 2008 Supplemental Draft.
When she joined forces with Michelle McCool in 2009, Layla found her greatest success. Known as Team Lay-Cool, the duo terrorized other Divas and became WWE Women’s Champion when Layla pinned Beth Phoenix in a Handicap Match. In October 2010, Layla was in McCool’s corner during when she successfully unified the Women’s and Divas Championships. The loss of the Divas Championship at the Royal Rumble in 2011 split the team, and a knee injury forced Layla to take time away from the ring.
Following a lengthy rehabilitation process, Layla returned to the squared circle on April 29, 2012, at Extreme Rules where she beat Nikki Bella to capture the Divas Championship, proving that she hadn’t lost a step in her time away from the ring. Although Layla lost the Divas Championship to Eve at that year’s Night of Champions, the English grappler kept her sights on regaining the butterfly-emblazoned title.
On the August 2, 2013 edition of SmackDown, Layla turned on Kaitlyn to join forces with then-Divas Champion AJ Lee. Not long after, Layla wrestled in the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational at WrestleMania 30, but failed to dethrone Lee for the butterfly-emblazoned title.
Since her WWE debut, Layla has experienced mainstream attention including features in King, JET, Smooth and FHM in addition to appearing on Family Feud and Project Runway. In April 2008, she was also a featured trainer on Celebrity Fit Club Boot Camp.
July 29, 2015 – While this seems to have come from nowhere, it really shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. Layla, who has been working for WWE since 2006, making her the longest tenured Diva on the roster, has retired from professional wrestling. The company announced as much on its website in an interview with the former Diva Search winner.
WWE.COM: Your decision to retire from WWE has to be the most difficult decision of your career. What makes walking away from the squared circle such a challenge?
LAYLA: I feel like deciding to retire from the ring has been a hard decision to make because I’m passionate and I love performing. I’ve known everybody in that company now for nine years. They’re family. I spend more time with crew and Superstars and Divas on the roster than I did with anybody else. It becomes part of your life. And not only that, it’s hard walking away from the fans. Part of me feels a little bit guilty for walking away because [WWE fans] are 100 percent loyal and have supported me since 2006. I wouldn’t even have this job if the fans didn’t vote in the Diva Search. I was able to win that competition because of them and I was blessed. But sometimes you just need to step out and take a risk and move onto the next phase in life.
WWE.COM: What are the key factors and thoughts of yours that led to this life-changing decision?
LAYLA: I’ve been traveling the world for nine years now and sometimes it’s just time to start the next chapter of your life. Traveling on the road was fun, but the older you get, it takes more time for recovery. I just got tired of the travel part.
As far as future plans, Layla said that she would like to try doing something in the television business in the United States or her native England or possibly going back to dancing and choreography. She also added she is engaged to be married and wants to start a life with her family.
Recently, Layla’s time on WWE television has been sporadic. She had surgery last January and pledged to be back in an Instagram post, eventually returning in April during an episode of WWE Main Event.
Layla came to WWE in 2006 during the Diva Search, winning the competition and making her main roster debut at SummerSlam that August.
After hanging out on the roster for a few years, Layla’s first major storyline was in 2008, when she aligned herself with William Regal. The following year she joined forces with Michelle McCool as part of a duo that would become known as LayCool.
As part of LayCool, Layla would find her best success in the ring. She won the WWE Divas Championship during an episode of SmackDown in May 2010, pinning Beth Phoenix. She also holds the distinction of being the last WWE Women’s Champion before the title was unified with the Divas Championship.
The Diva Search competition was hit-and-miss for WWE over the years, but Layla certainly turned out to be one of the biggest bright spots. She turned her victory in that into a solid nine-year run with the company and can ride off into the sunset with her head held high.