|WWF Superstars of Wrestling|
|Created by||Vince McMahon|
|Starring||World Wrestling Federation alumni|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||60 minutes (inc. commercials)|
|Original network||Syndicated (1986-96)|
USA Network (1996-2000)
|Original release||September 6, 1986 -|
August 19, 2001
|Preceded by||WWF Championship Wrestling (1972-86)|
WWF Superstars of Wrestling (later shortened to WWF Superstars) is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). It debuted on September 6, 1986, as the flagship program of the WWF's syndicated programming.
In September 1986, Superstars replaced WWF Championship Wrestling. Before that, WWF Superstars Of Wrestling was the name of a weekly recap show hosted by Vince McMahon (or Gene Okerlund) and Lord Alfred Hayes that lasted from 1984 through August 1986. The new version of Superstars was the program on which all the angles began and at times ended and on which 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 re-branded and aired in some parts of 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. Some Canadian viewers were able to watch American feeds of the show and/or "WWF Challenge."
The show also began airing in 1986 in the United Kingdom on Saturday nights on 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.
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.
In September 1996, Superstars left syndication and moved to pay TV channel 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 March 1997, 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 (later known as Spike, now known as the Paramount Network) in September 2000, Superstars moved with it. The show was then discontinued in August 2001. The show continued until December 2002 in the UK, until it was replaced by Heat in January 2003.
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 was popularized, 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 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.
WWE abandoned the Superstars of Wrestling trademark when they changed the show's name to WWF Superstars in the early 1990s. Albert Patterson, a Wisconsin independent wrestling promoter, successfully trademarked the phrase in 1993. Although there has been litigation between the WWE and Patterson, WWE has not been able to settle with Patterson for the usage of "Superstars of Wrestling". Due to this issue, WWE blurs the Superstars of Wrestling banners when archival content is shown on the WWE Network.