SummerSlam always has a special place in the heart of WWE diva’s champ Layla.
The Miami Heat dancer turned grappler made her official debut at the event six years ago. Coming off winning the Diva Search, Layla was initiated by some of her new co-workers headed up by Trish Stratus.
Then, it was hard for Layla to imagine she would be where she is now.
“It’s not where I thought I would be because, honestly, it’s hard,” Layla said. “I didn’t know if I would be able to stomach it or go through it, even though I’ve wanted to do it. Just being there with Trish Stratus, Candice Michelle, Torrie Wilson, it was intimidating. I wanted to be good and get better, but I was kind of like defeated. I was really happy that I stuck through it. Once I set my mind to it. It’s been six years, and still everything is like a dream and a ‘how did this happen’ type of thing.”
The English beauty’s entrance into WWE wasn’t traditional, but she is proud of her Diva Search roots. For Layla, opportunities can come and go. So it’s what you make of them.
“I definitely say it’s hard for the girls who come from the Diva Search, and it’s extremely hard for the girls who go through developmental,” Layla said.
“I feel like everyone deserves a chance here, if you’re prepared to put the work in. If you are prepared to put the effort in and become passionate about wrestling, why shouldn’t you deserve to be here? I’m glad that I can actually say that I am the longest Diva Search winner here. I feel like I have broken some milestones here for the divas, even though I was just a Diva Search girl.
“So, yes, I can be a role model for just someone who can say, ‘You know what? That is somebody who came from the Diva Search. She was able to model and was a dancer but was able to do it.’ It’s more about the person. Sometimes you are going to come in, and people are going to underestimate you. It’s up to you to decide if you want to prove a point or want or if you want to quit. I feel like both parties work hard. I get mad sometimes because I feel like the Diva Search girls get a really hard time, but we work just as hard. I feel like I’m one of the girls who can validate that.”
Fellow Diva Search winners Eve Torres, Christy Hemme and Ashley Massaro also made the most of the possibilities that opened up after taking home the title. However, contestants who fell short in the competition, such as Layla’s former partner Michelle McCool, found similar success.
“I feel like the girls who didn’t win the Diva Search have more a fuel underneath them,” Layla said.
“They have a more something to prove type of thing. Like Candice Michelle, she was one of them who validated to me that you don’t have to be a Diva Search winner and still have a great career. It is what it is. I just feel it’s all about the person and if you are going to want it and work for it. You have to be prepared to just suck it up and take all the stuff that comes with it, whether it’s the positive notes or negative notes. You use it to enhance yourself to have a great career.”
Given her longevity, Layla has clearly taken her own advice. With that said, her road in the company hasn’t always been smooth. Layla, who is recognized as the last holder of the WWE women’s championship, was sidelined last year with a torn ACL and MCL during the most successful time of her career thus far. With some doubts if she would ever return to the ring again, recovery wasn’t easy.