The WWE Draft, a lasting image of WWE Brand Exenstion
When WWE (then known as WWF) acquired all the assets of WCW and the original ECW, it had resulted in the acquisitions of several wrestlers and other personnel that have been lost in the shuffle for much of 2001 and early 2002.
In an effort to give these Superstars some exposure, it was announced that a brand extension draft would take place during a special edition of Monday Night RAW on May 25, 2002. Rick Flair would choose the Superstars for RAW while Vince McMahon would draft Superstars for SmackDown.
The Rock was the first draftee when he was drafted to Friday Night SmackDown. The second pick saw The Undertaker go to RAW. Eventually, the likes of Kane, the N.W.O., Rob Van Dam, Brock Lesnar, and Stone Cold Steve Austin would go to RAW while SmackDown acquired the likes of Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan, Edge, and Mark Henry.
The WWE Brand Extension extended through brand-exclusive pay-per-views as well as separate RAW and SmackDown magazines with only the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series being the only pay-per-views to feature both brands.
A revival of ECW was created in June of 2006 and was given its own pay-per-view in December To Dismember back in December 2006.
However, beginning with the 2007 edition of Backlash, all pay-per-views were now multi-branded. Also at this time, RAW and SmackDown magazines merged into WWE Magazine.
In February of 2010, ECW was cancelled following lackluster ratings and was replaced by NXT (now WWE's developmental promotion). Nevertheless, the WWE held its draft for the next couple of years with only RAW and SmackDown drafting Superstars.
But by the summer of 2011, it became very evident that both RAW and SmackDown were languishing in the ratings not to mention that the roster had shrunken greatly since 2002. It was also during that time that the WWE had became very interested in getting involved in the social media craze.
As a result, Triple H announced that RAW would feature Superstars from SmackDown and vice versa. Eventually, the house shows became dual-branded as well.
R.I.P. WWE Brand Extension: 2002-2011