The 2006 Diva Search winner, Layla has gone on to compete on all three WWE brands. With a strong background in dance, she was one third of the Extreme Exposé dancers on ECW, and from there went on to align herself with William Regal. She is now partnered with Michelle McCool on SmackDown, where the pair have been causing WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James no end of trouble!
Layla originally hails from Britain, and says that one of her ambitions is to become the first British WWE Women’s Champion. She also discusses the development of women in wrestling, the WWE Twitter generation, the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV, SmackDown’s tour of New Zealand in August and much more.
Layla took time out to speak to NZPWI Editor Kirsty Quested on Friday morning.
Kirsty Quested: Hi Layla, how’re you?
Layla: Hi Kirsty, I’m great thank-you, how’re you?
I’m very well. So, tell us about the Diva Search, what made you decide to enter it?
I guess, I was talking to my trainer at the gym and he was like “just go for it,” y’know? ‘Cause at first I was in shock, I was like “there’s no way I can get in the ring, I don’t know what I’m gonna do or… there’s no way!” and they just told me “Layla, you only live once, go for it, you never know what might happen” and thank God that I did!
Had you been a fan of wrestling before then?
I was a fan of The Rock as I was growing up. My mom was a fan of wrestling – my mom and my little sister – they’d watch it but I was a fan of The Rock to be honest, but that also intrigued me to say “oh, OK I’ll try it out!” [laughs]
Well what’s life in WWE been like since then, has it been what you expected?
No, because… it hasn’t been what I expected because I didn’t really know what to expect. I just knew that it was going to be a new chapter in my life, I knew it was gonna be exciting, and it’s turned out to be even more than what I thought it could be. It’s amazing, I’ve had so many great moments, so many challenges and experiences that I’m very grateful for and never thought that I’d ever be a part of and, like I said, we only live once, and I’m just privileged and happy to be able to say I’m a WWE Diva.
That’s awesome. You’ve got a strong background in dance, has that helped you with professional wrestling, like, in the ring?
I’d say because of my strong dancing background I think it has helped me, although sometimes I know I do certain things where it comes across as a little too dancer-ish, so it kinda helps me and it kinda hinders me in the same way. Y’know what I mean?
I love the blue team. I love the red team, I love the blue team – I’ve been on all three shows and every single show has a different vibe about it, a different energy, so… at the moment I’m loving what we’re doing right now – I don’t know if you’re up to date with everything? – I’m enjoying working with Michelle and Mickie, and I just feel like there’s so much excitement now and so many different things that we’re doing so I’m happy to have been drafted to blue team, I really am.
Cool, cool. Your old stomping ground, ECW, is shutting down. What do you think of that and the new concept, Next, NXT?
I’m really sad because ECW really was my stomping ground, and I learnt a lot on there and I think ECW has built a lot of WWE Superstars. They’re pretty much the breeding ground where everyone can develop their characters and develop who they are so it’s gonna be sad, y’know what I mean? But everything – every good thing – comes to an end so I… this new concept, I’m excited to see what’s gonna happen. I came from a reality-based show so I’m sure it’s going to be successful and I’m sure it’s gonna get a lot of other stars… they’re going to develop brand new stars that people are going to follow and love, so, I’m excited to see what the outcome’s gonna be.
Yeah. The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is coming up, and as yet we haven’t seen any Divas in a chamber match – do you that that we should?
Yes, I definitely think we should see the Divas in an elimination [chamber] match and I know there are plenty of the Divas that’d love to do it. And just to let you know we do have the Elimination Chamber, which is a live and exclusive main event, on Monday the 22nd of February so make sure you guys watch that, it’s gonna be great…
Yeah, yeah, we’re really looking forward to it.
And maybe one day we will get the Divas out there. I would love to do it. I would do it in a heartbeat.
So you think it would be likely in the future if all the Divas got together and went to creative and said “hey, look! We think we could really make a go of it”? Do you think it’s likely?
I think, the Divas pushing that to creative and telling them we want to make a go of it, I think it’s happening already, I think there’s plenty of girls that wanna go out there and do it, whether it’s gonna happen… I don’t know. But fingers crossed, maybe one day there’ll be just that, y’know?
It’s supposed to be broken… y’know, every day we break records and we break different stuff so one day I hope it will happen.
You are part of the WWE Twitter generation.
Yeah, the Twitter is crazy right now! Cause it’s so… cause people don’t know if we’re being our characters or if we’re being ourselves. So it’s fun in a way, like I love it when fans tell me… like give me feedback or even if I don’t ask for it they’ll tell me something and I like the fact that they can get to know our personalities a little bit outside of work. But sometimes we do get the people who’re a little too crazy, a little too obsessed and that’s the negative part about it. Like some mornings you’re in a bad mood you don’t wanna wake up to someone saying “I hate you! I wish you were this…” and “Da! Da!” and then other times you wake up and you’re like “ah, whatever” so I’m glad for both. There’s negative and positive, y’know what I mean? I’m glad – I think the fans enjoy it. I think they can feel nearer to me because at least they can see a little bit of us, and they also get mad if we don’t answer everybody’s Twitters but imagine, sometimes we miss them or there’s so many that how can we… we can’t answer every single one, but we try our best.
Yeah, yeah, well speaking of…
…are you following me by any chance, Kirsty?
Yes, for the outfit that I’m with, we’re definitely following you and that’s why I asked you because y’know, we keep up with you…
…I’m’na give you a shout-out! I’m’na give you a shout-out.
I just wanted to let you know we’re going to be, we’re actually coming, there’s the official WWE tour…
Coming here in August, yeah, yeah…
Yes it is, in August 5th we’ll actually be there, so, we’d love to see everybody.
Have you been out to New Zealand before, you have been out here with EC…
No! I have never been to Australia or New Zealand and it’s the one place I’ve always wanted to go. You know I’m originally from England, so of course I have so many Australians that I grew up with and stuff and I’d always be jealous and I’d always wanna go and just never gone, so maybe this year I’ll definitely be there.
Cool, well speaking of obsessed and crazy on Twitter, did you keep up with last year’s Chris Jericho vs. The Miz?
[laughs] I mean yeah you did but they’re getting ridiculous. They get so into it, they’re kinda scary. I think they’re starting up again, I just saw one last night!
Oh, they started up again, yeah, I saw that too.
But I’m gonna go with Jericho. I think Jericho’s gonna win it. Miz is not so awesome, so, we’ll see. Not so awesome.
The top business positions in both WWE and TNA are held by women, with the exception of Vince McMahon of course. What effect do you think that this will have on women’s wrestling in the future, with women in such high, powerful roles in the business?
Well hopefully I think it will have a great and positive experience because a woman with power is also going to understand another woman who’s working and wanting to attain that same kind of credibility, that same kind of power, so hopefully it’ll be a positive thing. But also I know, as a woman in power or any kind of woman who’s in charge, they’re going to be harder on the women, because that’s just – naturally we relate to women a lot more easier than, sometimes a man does so I think it’s going to be great, of course! Women can do the same things as men can do, I believe in that a hundred percent. I know society has changed where, y’know, equal rights and stuff like that but sometimes I feel like it’s not right there. We do live sometimes in more of a dominated male world but I think eventually women are going to get better and better and I think women’s wrestling as well. We’re hoping to be taken a lot more seriously in the future.
Cool. Layla, what’s something that fans would be surprised to learn about you?
Oooh, a funny thing, or something more serious? [laughs]
Um, both. Both!
Both? OK, one funny thing that I don’t really tell a lot of people but some people know: I eat in my sleep. [laughs]
You, you sleep-eat?!
Oh my gosh!
My metabolism is crazy, and I will wake up in the middle of the night, always hungry, and I eat. Whether I’m in a hotel room, stuff like that, and I can’t help myself. I’ll wake up the next morning and not realise that I’ve actually eaten unless I find the packets or stuff like that, or friends will tell me that I ate in my sleep or something. So it’s a bad quality. Only when I’m dieting I try to lock everything away. Just put water and a protein shake beside me so that I won’t eat anything bad.
Oh wow! What’s the serious thing that we’d be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m single, still? I can’t find a boyfriend.
Oh, well that is surprising!
Well I don’t know if that’s surprising, it does sound kind of big-headed on my part, I think. Like “I shouldn’t be single” but maybe that? Maybe I can’t find my soul-mate?
Layla, what does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
In 10 years’ time? Wow! Ooh, OK. In 10 years’ time I honestly would like to see myself with my own dance studio, which I wanna start opening up and working on soon – for kids and for adults. I see myself married. And hopefully have a few kids or two, ‘cause I am getting older, and women, our time-clocks start ticking. And, I just… hopefully married with kids… by then I hope that I would have attained the title. That’s my goal. I wanna be the first British girl, and the first Diva Search winner, to attain the title. ‘Cause it hasn’t been done yet, so I can break two records with that.
Well Layla we wish you all the very best with that! And we absolutely can’t wait to see you out here in August if you are on the tour, it’d be great to see you out here.
Hopefully will be. I hopefully will be.
Sorry, I was just going to say thanks very much for your time, we really appreciate it.
Thank-you very much
In association with WWE, NZPWI are giving away two Elimination Chamber prize packs! Simply tell us who was in the Extreme Exposé with Layla, and you go in the draw to win a PPV chair, a T-shirt, cap, figurine and DVD! Email your answers to *protected email*. Competition closes and will be drawn on the date of the WWE Elimination Chamber PPV – Monday, February 22.