This July, WWE will have its second brand extension, in addition to having Smackdown live full-time for the first time in the 17-year history of the program. WWE ended its first brand extension in 2011 after a 9-year tenure that was met with mixed results. Having separate rosters allowed for newer talent to have a chance to shine, but also led to diluted Pay Per Views and low ratings.
For WWE not to repeat the same mistakes this time around, they should look at exactly what went wrong the first time. Otherwise, nine years from now, or even earlier, this second brand extension will end up the same as the first.
Let's look at 10 lessons the WWE can learn from the first brand extension.
10. General Manager Consistency
More than likely, when the second brand extension happens, Shane McMahon will run one show (rumored to be Smackdown) and Stephanie McMahon will run the other (presumably Raw). If WWE is truly to learn their lesson from the first brand extension, they should keep those two in power as long as possible.
The first brand extension had way too many general manager changes. Raw had the most consistency with Eric Bischoff, who held the role from 2002 until late 2005. After him, Raw's management never caught its footing. From Jonathan Coachman to William Regal to celebrity guest hosts to Bret Hart to a computer (which turned out to be Hornswoggle??), Raw was bogged down by its authority figure rather than focusing on the wrestlers.
Smackdown wasn't much better. After Stephanie McMahon left in late 2003 to get married to Triple H in real life, Smackdown had its own mishmosh of general managers, from Paul Heyman to Kurt Angle to Vickie Guerrero (who also managed Raw). The most consistent general manager was Theodore Long, who managed Smackdown on two different occasions. He rarely made the storylines about himself, and let the wrestling speak for itself. His only real involvement was to make the occasional tag team match (playa).
If Shane and Stephanie are going to run Raw and Smackdown, WWE would be wise to keep it that way for a while.