In 2002, the WWE decided to split its newly oversized roster, moving half of the stars to Raw and the other half to SmackDown.
Through the years, the company offered different variations of the split. For starters, the company offered an annual draft lottery, allowing each brands general manager a chance to "draft" a Superstar from the competing brand.
The company eventually went as far as splitting its monthly pay-per-views between the brands, giving each show an opportunity to showcase its stars and storylines—the exception being the "Big Four" (SummerSlam, Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and WrestleMania), as the brands would come together for those select events and split the show.
Essentially, the WWE was running each brand as its own company. Even the resurrected ECW got in the mix; however, it was never included in the pay-per-view split. In fact, most times, the extreme brand would have one or two matches at either a Raw or SmackDown event.
Ultimately, the "Brand Extension" wound up running its course in 2011. Since then, the storylines from each brand have spilled over to the other's show, and there really is no exclusive wrestler for either show.
Overall, fans never got a true reason from the WWE as to why the "Brand Extension" ended. That is until now, as Steven Fernandes of PWInsider.com reports:
Ad Age has named Stephanie McMahon on their "40 under 40" list for 2013. They mention her current role in WWE as "overseeing the development of TV, pay-per-view, print, digital and social-media programming" adding her influence will grow if the WWE Network ever launches. As for why the Brand Extension ended she said, "We are all telling the same stories. And digital and social offer the ability to continue storylines 24/7 so our fans can consume the content anytime, anywhere on the device they prefer.
In a way, this makes sense, as the WWE's programming has moved beyond the "Brand Extension." Let's face it, with four weekly shows on TV and two on the web, the WWE really doesn't have the need to split its main brands.
Keep in mind, with this much content to fill, storylines were eventually going to spill over from one show to another, making it nearly impossible to keep a genuine roster split.
Overall, like most things, the "Brand Extension" served its purpose for the time, as it allowed the WWE to tap into who and what fans were watching—ultimately giving many stars an opportunity that they would not have otherwise had.
In the end, whether good or bad, all things must come to an end. Fortunately, the WWE had the foresight to end it before fans truly grew tired of it.