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WWE Brand Extension
The World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/E) Brand Extension was a draft first used in 2002 by WWE with the purpose of dividing WWE Superstars into two brands, RAW and SmackDown!. In 2006 ECW was added to the draft.
RAW and SmackDown!
After buying World Championship Wrestling (WCW), its business opponent through the 1990s, in March 2001, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) wanted to find a way to split itself into two separate brands, because of the numbers of Superstars that it had gotten as part of WCW's purchase. On March 18, 2002, Linda McMahon announced the "brand extension" in which the company would be split into two distinct brands.
In terms of storyline, Ric Flair had become co-owner of the WWF following Survivor Series 2001 where Shane and Stephanie McMahon sold their stocks to Flair in order to buy WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Vince McMahon did not like having to share his creation with Flair and looked for a way to stop their partnership. After entering a feud with The Undertaker, Flair sought a match with him at WrestleMania X8. However, the WWF Board of Directors would only allow the match if Flair were to give all control of the WWF to McMahon. Flair agreed, however, the Board also reserved the right to review the ownership status of the WWF following WrestleMania. Their decision was to split the entire WWF roster into two separate brands, with Vince McMahon in control of the SmackDown! brand and Ric Flair in control of the RAW brand. A draft was started the following week on RAW. Each owner would get a total of thirty picks. The brand extension officially began on April 1, 2002. By having two brands in place, the WWF was able to increase the number of live events held each year from 200 to 350.
The 2002 World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Brand Extension Draft took place at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania on March 25, 2002. The first half of the draft was televised live on TNN for two hours, on WWE's flagship program, Raw. The second half, or the supplemental draft, was conducted over the internet on WWF's official website, WWF.com. There were thirty draft picks, with sixty superstars drafted overall by co-owners of the WWF, Ric Flair and Vince McMahon, onto their respective brands, RAW and SmackDown!. For the televised half of the draft, ten brand selections were manually made by Flair and McMahon. The supplemental draft was however conducted as a draft lottery, with each brand receiving twenty random draft selections.
| Brand (To)
| Brand Pick #
|4||RAW||2||n.W.o (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & X-Pac)|
|5||SmackDown!||3||Chris Benoit||Drafted while recovering from neck surgery. Benoit made his WWE return on the Raw brand instead.|
|7||SmackDown!||4||"Hollywood" Hulk Hogan|
|8||RAW||4||Rob Van Dam||When drafted, Van Dam was the then-WWF Intercontinental Champion, which made the Intercontinental Championship RAW exclusive.|
|9||SmackDown!||5||Billy and Chuck||Billy and Chuck were the then WWF Tag Team Champions, which made the Tag Team Championships SmackDown! exclusive.|
|12||RAW||6||The Big Show|
|14||RAW||7||Bubba Ray Dudley|
|18||RAW||9||William Regal||When drafted, Regal was the then-WWF European Champion, which made the European Championship RAW exclusive.|
|19||SmackDown!||10||Maven||When drafted, Maven was the then-WWF Hardcore Champion, which made the Hardcore Championship SmackDown! exclusive.|
|37||SmackDown!||19||Diamond Dallas Page|
|41||SmackDown!||21||Scotty 2 Hotty|
- Picks #1-20 were made on live television on TNN
- Picks #21 -58 were conducted over WWF.com.
After World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) bought all of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 2003, the company began releasing DVDs showing the original ECW. Soon afterwards, the company promoted two ECW reunion shows for ECW Alumni entitled, ECW One Night Stand in 2005 and in 2006.
The 2006 World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Brand Extension Draft took place from the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington on May 29, 2006, where ECW representative, Paul Heyman, drafted two superstars, one from SmackDown! and one from RAW onto the new ECW brand.
|Pick #||Brand (To)|| Superstar/Diva
| Brand (From)
|1||ECW||Rob Van Dam||RAW|
Interbrand competition was kept at a minimum, with superstars from all brands competing together only at pay-per-view events. However, in 2003, all pay per view events became brand exclusive, leaving the "big four" pay-per-views (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble) as the only interbrand shows.
Starting in late 2006, in an attempt to add more star power to the shows, interbrand matches became more common. Most notably, MNM and The Hardys reformed, despite the fact that the teammates were on separate brands. Bobby Lashley is also notable for his interbrand action, who was involved in a storyline with the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. The return of Saturday Night's Main Event to NBC has also lead to more interaction between the brands.
The separation of the WWE roster between two brands also intended to split the pay-per-view offerings, which began with Bad Blood in June 2003. The original idea had the "major" pay-per-view events at the time (Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and WrestleMania) would contain the only instances where wrestlers from different brands would interact with each other, and even among the four shows only the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania would have wrestlers from different brands competing against each other. Wrestlers, as a result, appeared only in 2/3 of the shows. Eventually, WWE abandoned the practice of single-brand pay-per-view events following WrestleMania 23. December to Dismember and New Year's Revolution were cancelled following the announcement.
Initially, the WWE Undisputed Championship and WWE Women's Championship were available to both brands. The other championships were exclusive to the brand the champion was a part of. With several specialty championships being exclusive to one brand, numerous wrestlers were left with no title to fight for.
This issue was solved in September 2002 when the Undisputed Championship became the WWE Championship again and was moved to SmackDown! while Eric Bischoff created the World Heavyweight Championship for RAW. Shortly thereafter, SmackDown! created their own Tag Team Championship, revived the United States Championship, and became the exclusive home of the Cruiserweight Championship. Meanwhile RAW became the exclusive brand for WWE's original World Tag Team Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and the Women's Championship. The end result was each brand having four championships. When ECW was revived in 2006, the ECW Championship was re-established and is that brand's world title.
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