Initially appearing on the SmackDownbrand, she moved to ECW in January 2007. There, she formed the Extreme Exposé dance troupe with Kelly Kelly and Brooke Adams. In 2008, she was drafted to the Raw brand, where she began managingWilliam Regal. The following year she returned to SmackDown and formed an alliance with Michelle McCool known as Team Lay-Cool. In May 2010, Layla won the WWE Women's Championship for the first time, making her the first British woman to hold the championship. She is also the first Diva Search winner to have won the championship, and the final recognised WWE Women's Champion as the title was retired in 2010. In April 2012, Layla won the WWE Divas Championship upon her return from a year-long absence due to injury, and held the championship until September that year.
Diva Search and early appearances (2006–2007)
Layla on SmackDown! in 2007.
El's first foray into professional wrestling occurred when her trainer suggested she try out for the $250,000 WWE Diva Search contest in 2006. After a casting call, she was selected as one of the finalists. During the contest, she won a week's worth of "immunity" on the 14 July episode of SmackDown! after winning Sgt. Slaughter's "Diva Boot Camp" obstacle course—despite having jumped over several tires in the tire hop section of the course and not having both of her feet cross the finish line due to her doing a split. She won another competition, the "Diva Search Talent Show" on 11 August, when she danced dressed as a police officer. She won the Diva Search on 16 August.
She made her first "official" WWE appearance at the 2006 SummerSlampay-per-view in a backstage segment with several other divas. During the segment, the other women initially taunted and teased her before revealing that "it was all in fun" and part of an "initiation" of sorts. Afterward they dragged her into the showers, fully clothed, where they proceeded to spank her while laughing. The week after SummerSlam, El made her debut as a member of the SmackDown! brand in an interview with Mike "The Miz" Mizanin—although he did not allow her the chance to say much, spending most of the time talking about himself. Subsequently, she did not appear on WWE television for almost a month, reappearing on the 22 September episode of SmackDown! and getting into a confrontation with both Kristal and Jillian Hall.
At October's No Mercy pay-per-view event, she embarrassed The Miz by tricking him into getting a lap dance from Big Dick Johnson while he was blindfolded and expecting it to be from her as a birthday gift. On 20 October, Layla participated in a dance contest with the other SmackDown! Divas, and was chosen as the winner by the judges, Nick and Aaron Carter. Despite this, The Miz, who was acting as emcee, declared Kristal the winner. The following week, Layla made her official in-ring debut in a "Diva Trick-or-Treat Battle Royal". The match ended in controversial fashion when she was pulled from the ring by The Miz, allowing Kristal to win. The next week, Layla teamed with Big Vito in a loss to The Miz and Kristal in a mixed tag team match. Continuing to feud with Kristal, Layla had her singles match debut on the 1 December episode of SmackDown!, when she lost to Kristal. In her final match for the SmackDown! brand, Layla teamed with Ashley Massaro to defeat Kristal and Jillian Hall in a tag team match on 22 December.
Extreme Exposé; managing William Regal (2007–2009)
The following month, Layla was moved to the ECW brand, debuting on 23 January 2007. She joined Brooke and Kelly Kelly to form Extreme Exposé. The trio performed a weekly dance segment on ECW, choreographed by Layla, for the next several months. In June 2007, The Miz was moved to the brand, prompting a storyline in which all three members of Extreme Exposé were attracted to him. When Kelly shifted her attentions towards Balls Mahoney, Layla, Brooke, and Miz openly mocked her. On 1 November, Brooke was released from her WWE contract, and Extreme Exposé dissolved as a group, leaving Kelly and Layla to enter an ongoing rivalry with more active in-ring roles. They were on opposite sides of a 10-Diva tag team match at Survivor Series, which Layla's team lost. In December, Layla formed an alliance with Victoria, which expanded to include Lena Yada in January 2008, and the trio continued to feud with Kelly. At WrestleMania XXIV, Layla was a 'lumberjill' for the Divas' tag team lumberjill match. The following month, Layla was part of the winning team in a six-on-six Divas match at the Backlash pay-per-view.
As part of the 2008 Supplemental Draft in late June, Layla was drafted to the Raw brand. On the 7 July episode of Raw, Layla made her debut in a tag team match with Jillian Hall, losing to Mickie James and Kelly Kelly, who had been revealed as the newest member of the Raw brand earlier that night. She soon entered a storyline with Jamie Noble in which Noble attempted to impress her with his matches, only to be squashed—easily defeated—by his opponents. On 1 September, Noble was able to defeat William Regal, which impressed Layla. The following week however, Layla chose to align herself with Regal, after he defeated Noble in a rematch. On the next episode of Raw, Layla reinforced her decision, telling Noble that she had finally found a worthy man in Regal. Over the next few months, Layla competed only sporadically in matches, spending most of her time managing Regal, and was present at ringside when Regal defeated Santino Marella on 10 November to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. On 5 April Layla competed in a Divas battle royal at WrestleMania XXV, but the match was won by Santina Marella.
On 15 April 2009, Layla was drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2009 Supplemental Draft. She started a scripted rivalry with Eve Torres, and lost both a dance contest and an arm wrestling match to Torres, before losing a match to her on the 29 May episode of SmackDown. After Torres defeated Layla again on WWE Superstars on June 18, the two shook hands.
She then formed an alliance with Michelle McCool, later called Team LayCool. Team LayCool began a scripted rivalry with Mickie James in October, making fun of her weight and vowing to make her leave SmackDown just after her debut for the brand. At the Survivor Series pay-per-view, McCool's team lost to James' team. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs Layla interfered in the WWE Women's Championship match between McCool and James, helping McCool to retain the championship. In January 2010, at the Royal Rumble, Layla came out in a fatsuit mocking James prior to the championship match between McCool and James; however, the mockery backfired, as James attacked Layla and used that as a distraction to quickly defeat McCool to win the championship. On the 12 February episode of SmackDown, Layla and McCool defeated James in a handicap match made by Official SmackDown Consultant Vickie Guerrero, who had been accidentally humiliated by James backstage. Guerrero then joined the Lay-Cool alliance, accompanying them to the ring and interfering in their matches. At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Layla and McCool defeated Raw's Gail Kim and Maryse in an inter-brand Divas tag team match. At WrestleMania XXVI she was on the winning team in a 10-Diva tag team match.
Team LayCool faced the WWE Women's Champion, Beth Phoenix, in a two-on-one handicap match on the 14 May episode of SmackDown. Layla pinned Phoenix to win the Women's Championship for the first time, becoming the first British woman to hold the championship. She is also the first Diva Search winner to have won the championship. Following her win, Team LayCool began calling themselves the co-Women's Champions. On 1 June, it was announced that LayCool would be mentoring Kaval during the second season of WWE NXT. On 18 July, Layla had her first title defense when she defeated Kelly Kelly at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. On 30 July, SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long informed LayCool that there was only one Women's Champion, and they had a week to decide who it would be. The following week, LayCool revealed that they had cut the championship belt into two, turning it into a friendship charm and circumventing Long's orders. In September, Layla and McCool challenged WWE Divas Champion Melina to a championship unification match at Night of Champions. McCool participated in the match and won with Layla's help to unify both championships into the WWE Unified Divas Championship. Layla unofficially became the co-champion, and defended the championship against Melina the following night on Raw. After both members of LayCool had successfully defended the championship against Natalya, they faced her in a two-on-one handicap match at Survivor Series, which Natalya won to become the new Divas Champion. Following Survivor Series, Natalya and Phoenix formed an alliance to continue the feud with LayCool, and at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in December, Lay-Cool lost to them in the first Diva's Tag Team Tables match in WWE. Lay-Cool invoked their rematch clause in January 2011, prompting the scheduling of a two-on-one handicap match for the Royal Rumble. At the Royal Rumble however, the anonymous Raw General Manager changed the match to a fatal four-way, also involving Eve. Eve went on to pin Layla and become the new Divas Champion.
LayCool began to fall out following the loss of the Divas Championship, and appeared in a series of vignettes in which they were attending couples therapy. On the 22 April episode of SmackDown, McCool attacked Layla during one of their storyline therapy sessions. During the 2011 WWE Draft on 25 April, Layla lost a match to Eve and was attacked afterward by McCool, but was able to fight her off. On 29 April, the pair faced each other in a match, which ended in a double countout. As a result, the pair faced each off in a no countout, no disqualification, loser leaves WWE match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on 1 May, which Layla won.
Injury and Divas Champion (2011–present)
Layla announced that she had suffered a knee injury at Extreme Rules on SmackDown on 13 May, and was interrupted and attacked by Kharma to write her off television. Later that month, it was confirmed that Layla had legitimately torn both her Anterior cruciate and Medial collateral ligaments and required surgery.
Layla made her in-ring return at a Florida Championship Wrestling event on 22 March 2012. She returned to the main WWE roster at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on 29 April, replacing Beth Phoenix, who was not medically cleared to compete, in a match for the WWE Divas Championship. Despite interference from Brie Bella, Layla defeated Nikki Bella to win the WWE Divas Championship for the first time. The following night on Raw, she successfully defended the championship against both Nikki and Brie in a triple threat match, and retained twice against Phoenix at the Over the Limit and No Way Out pay-per-views in May and June respectively. On the 20 August episode of Raw, Kaitlyn won a battle royal to become the number one contender to Layla's Divas Championship. At Night of Champions, Kaitlyn was removed from the championship match following a storyline injury and replaced with Eve Torres. Torres defeated Layla for the Divas Championship.
Layla defeated Torres in a non-title match on Superstars to earn a shot at the Divas Championship. She received her title match on 15 October, but was unsuccessful, and failed again to regain the championship in a three-way match at Hell in a Cell. On 12 November, on Raw, Layla was defeated by Kaitlyn in a number one contenders match for the Divas championship. On 16 December at the Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view, Layla competed in a number one contender's "Santa's Little Helpers" battle royal to face Torres for the championship, but was unsuccessful in winning the match. In early 2013, Layla briefly developed a feud with Tamina Snuka, losing to her in singles matches before defeating her in a tag team match. As part of the feud, Layla allied herself with Kaitlyn, and began accompanying her to ringside. On the 2 August episode of SmackDown, Layla stopped Kaitlyn from spearing AJ Lee, costing Kaitlyn both the match and the Divas Championship, and left with AJ. Layla went on to defeat Kaitlyn in singles competition and in a tag team match with AJ as her partner.