WWF Superstars of Wrestling
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|WWF Superstars of Wrestling|
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Starring||World Wrestling Federation alumni|
|Country of origin||USA|
|Running time||46 minutes per episode|
|Original channel||Syndicated (1986 - 1996)
USA Network (1996-2000)
|Original release||1986 – 2001|
WWF Superstars of Wrestling (later WWF Superstars) was a professional wrestling television program produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It debuted on September 6, 1986. Superstars, as it would later be known, was the flagship program of the WWF's syndicated programming from its inception until the premiere of Monday Night Raw in 1993.
In 1986, Superstars replaced WWF Championship Wrestling. Before that, Superstars was the name of a weekly recap show hosted by Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes. Superstars was where all the angles began and at times ended and where the majority of title changes took place if not at a pay-per-view event (e.g. WrestleMania or SummerSlam). Matches primarily saw top tier and mid-level talent versus jobbers; pre-taped interviews with the WWF's roster of superstars; and promos featuring the wrestlers. At times, there was a "feature" match between main WWF talent. As with all syndicated WWF programming, another major aspect of the show was to promote house shows and TV tapings in each market.
During its syndication run, the program was rebranded and aired in Canada as Maple Leaf Wrestling (essentially replacing a program of the same name filmed in southern Ontario), despite having almost no Canadian content other than interviews promoting matches that were to be held in Canada, along with occasional program-exclusive matches taped at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario. However this repackaging was, at the time, sufficient to allow the program to count towards Canadian content requirements for local television stations.
The show began airing in 1989 in the United Kingdom on Saturday nights on The Sky Channel. For a short time, it was shown on Tuesdays on Eurosport. Early in the 1990s, it was featured in a Friday night time slot. In the mid-1990s, Superstars was then moved to a Sunday morning time slot. For most of it original run in the United Kingdom Gorilla Monsoon was the play by play commentator with various color commentators throughout its history and briefly returning in 1998 joining the broadcast team with Kevin Kelly and Michael Cole during the attitude era.
Beginning with the April 18, 1992 episode, the program was renamed to WWF Superstars, due to a successful lawsuit by another promoter, Albert Patterson, who had claimed prior rights to the phrase "Superstars of Wrestling". Since then, archival footage of the program has usually been shown with the words "of Wrestling" blurred out where applicable.
December 4, 1991 was Jack Tunney's notable stripping of the WWF Championship held by Hulk Hogan who had won it by defeating The Undertaker at This Tuesday in Texas the previous night. After this aired December 7, it remained vacant until January 19, 1992 when Ric Flair won the title by winning the 1992 Royal Rumble.
Many of these title changes were not aired for up to several weeks after they took place. As these shows were aired in an era before the Internet, the previous title holder sometimes defended his title at house shows as though he were still the champion until the title change was aired on television.
- The Hart Foundation beating the British Bulldogs for the WWF World Tag Team Championship on February 7, 1987 (taped January 26, 1987).
- The Honky Tonk Man defeating Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the WWF Intercontinental Championship on June 13, 1987 (taped June 2, 1987).
- Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) beating the Hart Foundation for the WWF World Tag Team Championship on November 7, 1987 (taped October 27, 1987).
- Demolition defeating the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship on November 4, 1989 (taped October 2, 1989).
- The Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku) beating Demolition for the WWF World Tag Team Championship on December 30, 1989 (taped December 13, 1989).
- Mr. Perfect defeating Tito Santana for the vacant WWF Intercontinental Championship on May 19, 1990 (taped April 23, 1990).
- Mr. Perfect beating Kerry Von Erich for the WWF Intercontinental Championship on December 15, 1990 (taped November 19, 1990).
- Diesel defeating Razor Ramon for the WWF Intercontinental Championship on April 30, 1994 (taped April 13, 1994).
Change in format
In 1996, Superstars left syndication and moved to USA Network in place of WWF Action Zone, which the network cancelled. Although for a brief period the show continued in its same format, as time went on more and more recaps of the WWF's other programming began to fill the hour. By 1998, Superstars was solely a summary program and continued in that manner until its eventual ending.
In 1997, the format of Superstars as aired in the United Kingdom also changed and began to only feature weekly summaries of Monday Night Raw. Following the premiere of SmackDown!, Superstars served as a summary show for SmackDown! as well.
When the WWF moved its cable TV contract to TNN (now Spike) in 2000, Superstars moved with it. The show was then discontinued in 2001.
The commentary team on Superstars underwent many changes as the years passed. The hosts of Superstars are listed below in chronological order along with their debut episode.
- Vince McMahon, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and Bruno Sammartino (September 6, 1986)
- McMahon and Ventura (March 19, 1988)
- McMahon and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (August 25, 1990)
- McMahon, Piper, and Jimmy Hart (for one week only)
- McMahon, Piper, and the Honky Tonk Man (November 8, 1990)
- McMahon, Piper, and Randy "Macho Man" Savage (March 30, 1991)
- McMahon and Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig (November 30, 1991)
- McMahon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (briefly, after Mr. Perfect's face turn in 1992)
- McMahon, Heenan and Jerry "the King" Lawler
- McMahon, Savage, and Lawler (December 11, 1992)
- McMahon and Lawler
- McMahon and Reo Rodgers (for one week only)
- McMahon and Stan Lane
- McMahon and Johnny Polo
- McMahon and Dok Hendrix (April 15, 1995)
- McMahon, Jim Ross, and Lawler
- McMahon, Ross, and Hennig (December 2, 1995)
- Ross and Hennig
- Ross and Jim Cornette (November 10, 1996)
- Johnson, Mike (2009-06-14). "PWINSIDER Q&A: SUPERSTARS OF WRESTLING OWNERSHIP, THE RANDY SAVAGE DVD, BABYFACES WHO NEVER WORKED HEEL AND MORE". PWInsider.com. Retrieved 2014-04-26.