WWE Brand Extension
The World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/E) Brand Extension was a process first used in 2002 by said
professional wrestlingpromotion as a means of providing separate brands of wrestling through its two top shows, "Raw" and "SmackDown!", with the addition of "ECW" in 2006.cite web|url=http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2002/2002_03_27.jsp|title=WWE Entertainment To Make RAW and SMACKDOWN Distinct Television Brands] cite web|url= http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2006/2006_05_25_02.jsp |title=WWE Launches ECW As Third Brand]
Raw and SmackDown!
After acquiring the remains of
World Championship Wrestling(WCW), its main competitor throughout the 1990s, in March 2001, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) sought a way to split itself into two separate promotions, because of the numbers of talent that it had acquired as part of its purchase. On March 18 2002, Linda McMahonannounced the "brand extension" in which the company would be split into two distinct brands.
In terms of storyline,
Ric Flairhad become fifty percent owner of the WWF following Survivor Series 2001 after Shane and Stephanie McMahonhad sold their stocks to him in order to purchase WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling(ECW), respectively. [cite web|url=http://www.otherarena.com/htm/cgi-bin/history.cgi?2001/raw111901|accessdate=2008-02-22|title=WWF Raw (November 19, 2002) Results|last=Zimmerman|middle=Robin|first=Christopher|publisher=The Other Arena|date] Vince McMahondetested having to share his creation with Flair and looked for a way to dissolve their partnership.cite web|url=http://www.otherarena.com/htm/cgi-bin/history.cgi?2002/raw031102|accessdate=2008-02-22|title=WWF Raw Results (March 11, 2002)|last=Zimmerman|middle=Robin|first=Christopher|publisher=The Other Arena] 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 return one hundred percent control to McMahon.cite web|url=http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/results/raw/020311.html|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF Raw (March 11, 2002) Results|publisher=Online World of Wrestling] 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 entities, with Vince McMahon in control of the SmackDown! brand and Ric Flair in control of the RAW brand. [cite news| author=Michael McAvennie|title=WWE The Yearbook: 2003 Edition|publisher=Pocket Books|date=2003|pages=99 & 100] [cite web|url=http://www.otherarena.com/htm/cgi-bin/history.cgi?2002/raw031802|accessdate=2008-02-22|title=WWF Raw (March 18, 2002) Results|publisher=The Other Arena] A draft was held the following week on "RAW". Each owner would get a total of thirty picks. [cite news|author=Michael McAvennie |title=WWE The Yearbook: 2003 Edition|publisher=Pocket Books|date=2003|pages=102] 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, including tours in several new international markets.
2002World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Brand Extension Draft took place at Penn State Universityin State College, Pennsylvaniaon March 25 2002.cite web|url=http://www.oowrestling.com/recaps/raw/20020325.shtml|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF Draft 2002 Recap|last=Zimmerman|middle=Robin|first=Christopher|date=2002-03-26] cite web|url=http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/results/raw/020325.html|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF Raw (March 25, 2001) Results|publisher=Online World of Wrestling] The first half of the draft was televised live on TNN for two hours, as part of WWE (known then as the WWF)'s flagship program, Raw. The second half was conducted over the internet on WWF's official website, WWF.com.cite web|url=http://www.wrestleview.com/results/raw/66.shtml|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF Raw (March 25, 2001) Recap|publisher=WrestleView] There were thirty draft picks, with sixty superstars drafted overall by co-owners of the WWF, Ric Flairand Vince McMahon, onto their respective brands, Raw and SmackDown!.cite web|url=http://www.pwwew.net/wwfdraft.htm|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF 2002 Draft Results|publisher=PWWEW.net] For the televised half of the draft, ten brand selections were manually made by Flair and McMahon. The remaining superstars were divided randomly in a draft lottery, with each brand receiving a grand total of thirty superstars.cite web|url=http://www.pwwew.net/tv/020325.htm|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWF Raw (March 25, 2001) Results|publisher=PWWEW.net]
March 18 2002episode of "Raw", Vince McMahonwon a coin toss to determine who would receive the first draft selection.
*Picks #1-20 were made live on Raw on TNN
*Picks #21 -57 were conducted over WWF.com."
June 10 2002edition of "Raw", McMahon became the sole owner of World Wrestling Entertainment (after the WWF was court ordered to change their name) when he defeated Flair in a No Holds Barred match. [cite web|url=http://www.otherarena.com/htm/cgi-bin/history.cgi?2002/raw061002|accessdate=2008-02-22|title=WWE Raw (June 10, 2002) Results]
World Wrestling Entertainment(WWE) bought all of Extreme Championship Wrestling(ECW)'s assets in 2003, the company began releasing DVDs promoting the original ECW.cite web|url=http://prowrestling.about.com/od/2005/tp/2005topstories.htm|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Top Ten Moments of WWE in 2005|last=Cohen|first=Eric|publisher=About: Pro Wrestling] Soon afterwards, the company promoted two ECW reunion shows for ECW Alumnientitled, ECW One Night Stand in 2005 and in 2006.
2006World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Brand Extension Draft took place from the Tacoma Domein Tacoma, Washingtonon May 29 2006, where ECW representative, Paul Heyman, drafted two superstars, one from SmackDown! and one from Raw onto the newly created ECW brand.cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/05292006/articles/heymangetspicks|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Heyman gets Draft picks|last=Williams III|first=Ed|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2006-05-29] cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/05292006/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Will Triple H join the Mr.McMahon Kiss my Ass club|last=Williams III|first=Ed|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2006-05-29]
In late 2007, SmackDown! and ECW superstars began to appear on each others shows as part of a (
kayfabe) deal between then-ECW General Manager Armando Estradaand SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero. [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/smackdown/archive/10192007/articles/evenexchange|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Even Exchange?|last=Dee|first=Louie|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2007-10-18]
In addition to the Talent Exchange between SmackDown and ECW, an exchange between Raw and ECW was announced in September 2008. [cite web|url=hhttp://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/09082008/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Dangerous liaisons|last=Sitterson|first=Aubrey|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2008-9-8]
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.cite web|url=http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2007/2007_03_14.jsp|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWE Pay-Per-Views to follow WrestleMania formula|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment Corporate]
Starting in late 2006, in an attempt to add more star power to the shows, interbrand matches became more common. Most notably,
MNMand The Hardys reformed, despite the fact that the teammates were on separate brands. [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/archive/11272006/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=R-K-Anarchy|last=Dee|first=Louie|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2006-11-27] Bobby Lashleyis also notable for his interbrand action, who was involved in a storyline with the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/ecw/archive/04032007/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Fatal Fallout|last=Tell|first=Craig|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2007-04-03] [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/history/wrestlemania23/exclusives/409017211|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Superstar's React to Trump's choice|last=Hunt|first=Jen|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment|date=2007-02-27] The return of "Saturday Night's Main Event" to NBChas also lead to more interaction between the brands. [cite web|url=http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2006/2006_02_22.jsp|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWE Returns to NBC with Saturday Night's Main Event|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment Corporate|date=2006-02-22]
April 2007with Backlash, all pay-per-views now feature all the brands as they originally were in 2002.
The separation of the WWE roster between two brands also intended to split the
pay-per-viewofferings, which began with Bad Blood in June 2003. [cite web|url=http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2003/06/16/112594.html|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Bad Blood Just Plain Bad|last=Powell|first=John|publisher=Canoe: SLAM! Wrestling] 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 two-thirds of the shows in a given year, and thus appeared in fewer shows compared to before the brand extension. With single-brand PPVs in place, WWE was able to add more pay-per-view events to their offerings, such as Taboo Tuesday/Cyber Sunday, New Year's Revolution, December to Dismember, and The Great American Bash. Eventually, WWE abandoned the practice of single-brand pay-per-view events following WrestleMania 23.cite web|url=http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2007/2007_03_14.jsp|title=WWE Pay-Per-Views To Follow WrestleMania Formula] December to Dismember and New Year's Revolution were cancelled following the announcement.
Initially, the WWE Undisputed Championship and
WWE Women's Championshipwere 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 corrected in September 2002 when the Undisputed Championship became the WWE Championship again and was moved to SmackDown! while
Eric Bischoffcreated the World Heavyweight Championship for Raw.cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/worldheavyweight/3044541431|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Triple H's first World Heavyweight Championship reign|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment] Shortly thereafter, SmackDown! created their own Tag Team Championship, revived the United States Championship, and became the exclusive home of the Cruiserweight Championship.cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/wwetag/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWE Tag Team Championship History|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment] cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/unitedstates/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWE United States' Championship History|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment] [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/inside/titlehistory/cruiser/|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=WWE Cruiserweight Championship History|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment] 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 Championshipwas re-established. [cite web|url=http://www.wwe.com/shows/ecw/history/ecwchampionship/061506rvd|accessdate=2008-02-23|title=Rob Van Dam's first ECW Championship reign|publisher=World Wrestling Entertainment] The United States Championship and WWE Tag Team Championships were able to be shared between SmackDown and ECW following a talent exchange agreement between the two brands, which meant that SmackDown superstars could appear on ECW and vice versa. In 2008, the WWE Divas Championshipwas created on SmackDown, allowing the SmackDown Divas to compete for a title.
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