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Layla El

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Layla El Barrami (June 25, 1977) is an English dancer, model and retired professional wrestler of Moroccan descent. She is best known for her time at WWE as a WWE Diva and appearing on the SmackDown brand as Layla. She was the final WWE Women's Champion and is also a former one-time WWE Divas Champion.

After attending a performing arts college, El was a dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines, the Miami Heat franchise of the National Basketball Association, and also danced for Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2006, she was a contestant in the 2006 WWE Diva Search, which she won to earn a contract with the company.

Initially appearing on the SmackDown brand, she was moved to the ECW brand in January 2007, where 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 managing William Regal. The following year she returned to the SmackDown brand, where she 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 recognized WWE Women's Champion when the title retired in 2010. In April 2012, Layla won the WWE Divas Championship and held the title until September 2012.

Dancing career

El was a dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines. Following that, she began dancing for the National Basketball Association's Miami Heat franchise, where she danced for two years. As part of the Miami Heat dance troupe, she received a championship ring. During this time, she appeared on-stage with John Legend as one of his backup dancers. She also danced for P. Diddy and Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards.

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE

Diva Search and early appearances (2006–2007)

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 the 11 August episode of SmackDown!, 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 SummerSlam pay-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. On the next episode of SmackDown, 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 December 1 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 December 22.

Extreme Exposé; managing William Regal (2007–2009)

On 23 January 2007, Layla was moved to the ECW brand where she joined Brooke and Kelly Kelly to form Extreme Exposé. The trio performed a weekly dance segment on ECW, which Layla choreographed, 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. In the process, Layla turned heel and entered an ongoing rivalry with Kelly that included 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 following 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.

Lay-Cool (2009–2011)

Main article: LayCool

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 the 18 June episode of WWE Superstars, the two shook hands.

She then formed an alliance with Michelle McCool, later called Team Lay-Cool. Team Lay-Cool 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.

On the 14 May episode of SmackDown, Team Lay-Cool faced the WWE Women's Champion, Beth Phoenix, in a two-on-one handicap match. 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 Lay-Cool began calling themselves the co-Women's Champions. On 1 June, it was announced that Lay-Cool 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 Lay-Cool that there was only one Women's Champion, and they had a week to decide who it would be. The following week, Lay-Cool 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 Lay-Cool 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 Lay-Cool, 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 history. 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.

Lay-Cool began to fall out following the loss of the Divas Championship, and began to appear 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 the 29 April episode of SmackDown 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. 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.

Divas Champion; Alliance With Kaitlyn (2012-2013)

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 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 the championship against Phoenix at the Over the Limit pay-per-view in May.

On the June 11 episode of Raw, Layla teamed up with Santino Marella in losing effort to Beth Phoenix and Ricardo Rodriguez after being pinned by Phoenix, leading to a title rematch six days later at the No Way Out pay-per-view, where Layla again successfully retained her title. Layla then competed at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in a six-Diva tag team match along with Kaitlyn and Tamina Snuka against Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and Eve Torres with her team coming out victorious after Layla pinned Phoenix.

On the August 20 episode of Raw, Kaitlyn won a Divas battle royal to become the #1 Contender to Layla's Divas Championship. However, at the Night of Champions pay-per-view, Kaitlyn was injured following an attack by a masked person, thus forfeiting her title shot to Eve Torres, who took her spot in the match and went on to defeat Layla to win the Divas Championship. On the September 27 episode of WWE Superstars, Layla defeated Eve Torres in a non-title match to earn a shot at the Divas Championship. Layla received her title opportunity on October 15 episode of Raw, however, would be unsuccessful in regaining the title from Eve. Layla received another shot at the Divas Championship on 28 October at Hell in a Cell, but was again defeated by Eve in a three-way match, also involving Kaitlyn. On the 12 November episode of Raw, Layla was defeated by Kaitlyn in a #1 Contender's Match for the Divas Championship. On 16 December at the TLC pay-per-view, Layla competed in a #1 Contender's "Santa's Little Helpers" Divas battle royal to face Eve for the championship, but was unsuccessful in winning the match. On both the January 4 and February 15 episodes of SmackDown, Layla was defeated by Tamina Snuka in a pair of singles matches.

After Kaitlyn won the Divas Championship and retained the title at the Elimination Chamber, Layla began displaying a villainous persona due to jealousy of Kaitlyn. On the February 22 episode of SmackDown, Layla teamed with Kaitlyn in a victorious effort against Aksana and Tamina. During their entrance and after the match, Layla obsessively stared at Kaitlyn's championship and held it before giving it back to Kaitlyn. On the March 7 episode of Superstars, Layla finally defeated Tamina in a singles match after reversing her "Samoan Drop" into a roll-up. The following night on SmackDown, Layla accompanied Kaitlyn to a match against Tamina Snuka, but would accidentally distract Kaitlyn after Snuka attacked her, causing Kaitlyn to lose the match. On the March 15 episode of SmackDown, Layla once again teamed with Kaitlyn in a winning effort against Aksana and Tamina, with Layla tagging herself in to pin Aksana after she was hit by Kaitlyn's spear. The angle was rumored to result in Layla turning heel and competing against Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship at WrestleMania 29, but it was dropped. However, on April 7, Layla considered turning heel in an interview by stating that she wanted her Divas Championship back; claiming that being a nice girl isn't getting her anywhere.

On the April 22 episode of Raw, Layla participated in a #1 Contender's match for the Divas Championship, but was unsuccessful due to AJ Lee faking unconsciousness. On the April 26 episode of SmackDown, Layla competed in singles competition against Aksana in a winning effort. At the Payback pay-per-view, Layla would return comforting Kaitlyn after her loss against AJ Lee. The following night on the June 17 episode of Raw, Layla along with the face Divas accompanied Kaitlyn to confront AJ Lee, which Kaitlyn would end up attacking Lee while Layla and the Divas laughed. She would again accompany Kaitlyn on the June 24 episode of Raw in singles competition against Aksana, with Kaitlyn emerging victorious regardless of an attempted distraction by AJ Lee, who was dressed up as Kaitlyn (with a blonde wig and muscle suit), mocking her the night the secret admirer was revealed with the help of Big E. Langston. At the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Layla accompanied Kaitlyn where she unsuccessfully challenged Lee for the Divas Championship.

Heel Turn; Various Feuds (2013-2015)

On the August 2 SmackDown, Layla turned heel and betrayed Kaitlyn by protecting AJ during a Divas Championship match, costing Kaitlyn the match and the title, and left with AJ to cement her heel turn. In the weeks that followed, the evil Layla defeated Kaitlyn in singles action and in a tag team match with AJ as her partner. Layla began aligning with Aksana and Alicia Fox in various matches against the Total Divas, with every one of them resulting in defeat. Beginning in late 2013, Layla took a hiatus from WWE due to ongoing personal issues. On March 14, 2014, Layla returned to WWE at a live event in Waco, Texas; teaming with Alicia Fox in a losing effort to Natalya and Eva Marie. Layla made her televised return on the March 18 edition of Main Event, where she teamed with Fox in a losing effort to The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron). On the following edition of Main Event, Layla took part in a 10-Divas tag team match, and earned a victory when Tamina pinned Naomi. On the April 11 episode of SmackDown, Layla accompanied Fandango to the ring as his new dance partner.  During the match, Santino Marella was going to strike with The Cobra until Layla snatched The Cobra and Fandango picked up the win with a roll-up. On the April 14 edition of Raw, Layla and Fandango defeated Emma and Santino Marella in a mixed tag team match. On the May 19 edition of Raw, Layla was attacked by the returning Summer Rae. The continuing attacks led to a match between the two at Money in the Bank, which was officiated by Fandango and won by Layla. 

On the July 11 edition of SmackDown, Layla and Summer Rae were set to face off in a rematch officiated by Fandango, but both Divas attacked Fandango and ended up dancing with each other, turning Layla into a babyface. Both Layla and Summer, referring to themselves as "SLayers," would constantly distract Fandango during his matches and causing him to lose. In their first match as a team, Layla and Rae lost to Paige and AJ Lee on the July 18 episode of SmackDown. The Slayers won their first match as a team on the September 2 edition of Main Event by defeating Rosa Mendes and Natalya. Layla and Rae became villains due to the Total Divas storyline feud with Rae and Natalya, and she was at ringside when Rae was defeated by Natalya on the September 22 edition of Raw. Layla and Rae defeated Natalya and Rosa Mendes in a tag team match four nights later on SmackDown, however, Layla would defeat Mendes in singles action on the September 29 edition of Raw. On the following night's edition of Main Event, Layla and Rae were defeated by Brie Bella in a handicap match set up by Nikki Bella.

In January 2015, Layla underwent surgery for an unknown injury. She returned on the April 18 edition of Main Event and defeated Emma.

On July 29, 2015, WWE announced in an exclusive interview that Layla has retired.[1]

Modeling

Since winning the Diva Search contest El has also done some modelling work. She has been featured in the magazines King, Smooth, and was the cover-girl for the first issue of Liquid. She also posed for FHM with the other members of Extreme Exposé. Layla, along with Beth Phoenix and Candice Michelle, appeared in the February 2009 issue of Flex Magazine.

Other media

In April 2007, Layla and other WWE Divas, Kelly Kelly, Brooke, Torrie Wilson, Ashley and Maryse, were filmed for Timbaland's music video "Throw It On Me" featuring The Hives. During the week of 5 November 2007, Layla appeared on five episodes of Family Feud with other WWE superstars. On 6 February 2008 she appeared on Project Runway with several WWE Divas as part of the week's challenge. She also appeared on the 13 April 2008 episode of Celebrity Fit Club Boot Camp as a trainer.

Personal life

El was born and raised in England, and is of Moroccan descent. Her father is of Spanish descent. El's mother died in August 2008. She attended a performing arts college in London. She has previously lived in Miami, Florida, and Los Angeles, California.

El began dating fellow wrestler Richard Young, best known by his ring name Ricky Ortiz, in mid-2014, and announced their engagement on July 28, 2015 on Twitter.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

See also

External links

WWE Diva Search contestants
2003
Jaime Koeppe
2004
Amy WeberCamille AndersonCarmella DeCesareChandra CostelloChristy HemmeJoy GiovanniJulia CostelloMaria KanellisMichelle McCoolTracie Wright
2005
Alexis OndradeAshley MassaroCameron HavenElisabeth RouffaerKristal MarshallLeyla MilaniSimona FuscoSummer DeLin
2006
Amy ZidianErica ChevillarJen EnglandJ.T. TinneyLayla ElMaryse OuelletMilena RouckaRebecca DiPietro
2007
Brooke GilbertsonEve TorresJ. KimJessica HatchLena YadaLyndy FriesonNaomi KirkTaryn Terrell
WWF/WWE Divas (1985 - 2015)
AJ LeeAksanaAlexa BlissAlicia FoxAlundra BlayzeAmy WeberAshley MassaroBayleyBecky LynchBeth PhoenixBobcatBrie BellaBrookeCameronCandice MichelleCarmellaCarmella DeCesareCharlotteCherryChristy HemmeChynaCyndi LauperDana BrookeDasha KuretDawn MarieDebbie CombsDebraDevin TaylorEmmaEva MarieEve TorresThe Fabulous MoolahGail KimIvoryJackieJamieJessie McKayJoJoJoy GiovanniKaitlynKatie Lea BurchillKelly KellyKharmaKristalLanaLauren JonesLaylaLeilani KaiLilian GarciaLinda MilesLitaLuna VachonMaria KanellisMaryseMaxineMelinaMichelle McCoolMickie JamesMiss ElizabethMiss JackieNatalyaNicole BassNidiaNikki BellaNaomiPaigeRenee YoungRockin' RobinRosa MendesRyan ShamrockSableSapphireSasha BanksSensational SherriSerenaSharmellStacy KeiblerStephanie McMahonSummer RaeSunnyTaminaTerri RunnelsThe KatTiffanyToriTorrie WilsonTrinityTrish StratusVelvet McIntyreVickie GuerreroVictoriaWendi Richter

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