WWF Superstars of Wrestling was a professional wrestling program that debuted on September 6, 1986, replacing WWF Championship Wrestling. Superstars, as it would later be known, was the flagship of the WWF's syndicated programming from 1986 to 1996. Superstars was around before this version, as a weekly recap show hosted by Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes. That version of Superstars was renamed WWF Wrestling Spotlight at the time the WWF made the name changes to the following syndicated lineup:
- WWF All-Star Wrestling - WWF Wrestling Challenge
- WWWF Championship Wrestling - WWF Superstars of Wrestling
- Superstars of Wrestling - Wrestling Spotlight
Superstars consisted of original matches involving top tier to mid card talent against enhancement talent (today, wrestling fans more often refer to them as jobbers) and a feature match from time to time that involved main event wrestlers. Superstars was where all the storylines began and at times ended and where the majority of title changes took place if not at a pay-per-view (e.g. WrestleMania or SummerSlam).
- Randy "Macho Man" Savage (kayfabe) injures Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat with the timekeeper's bell.
- The violent feud between "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, over Adonis' establishment of The Flower Shop interview segment (in place of his own Piper's Pit during Piper's absence).
- Corrupt referee Danny Davis makes obviously biased decisions in favor of heel wrestlers, particularly the Hart Foundation. WWF President Jack Tunney (kayfabe) suspends Davis from refereeing for "life plus ten years" following the Hart Foundation's WWF Tag Team Championship win over the British Bulldogs when Davis ignored pin attempts by the Bulldogs, while allowing the Harts to break the rules before making a fast three-count. This sets up Davis' run as heel wrestler "Dangerous" Danny Davis.
- André the Giant, flanked by Bobby "the Brain" Heenan, turned heel on Piper's Pit and demanded a match against Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania III. The turn had been set up on two previous editions of Piper's Pit, where Hogan had been awarded a large trophy for being WWF Champion for three years, and André getting a somewhat smaller one for "going undefeated for 15 years."
- The Islanders (Haku and Tama) kidnap Matilda, the bulldog mascot of the British Bulldogs.
- "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase announces his intention of buying Hulk Hogan's WWF World Heavyweight Championship belt, and Hogan's subsequent rejecting the offer, telling DiBiase he'll have to wrestle him for it.
- Jack Tunney's announcement that the WWF Heavyweight Championship was being vacated (following Hulk Hogan's controversial title loss to André the Giant, and subsequent "sale" of the belt to DiBiase), to set up a 14-man elimination tournament at WrestleMania IV.
- "Ravishing" Rick Rude kissing women following his matches, but getting spurned by Cheryl Roberts, the (legit) then-wife of Jake "the Snake" Roberts. In subsequent matches, Rude began wearing tights with Mrs. Roberts' image on them. Roberts – who had warned Rude to stop wearing the tights – charged to the ring one night and stripped Rude of the tights. Although the footage was censored for television airings (to make it seem Rude had actually been stripped naked), the live audience saw Rude wearing a thong.
- "Outlaw" Ron Bass attacking Brutus Beefcake and slicing Beefcake's forehead with his spurs. The television audience only saw a giant red "X" across the screen, accompanied by the word 'censored' (to create the illusion that Beefcake was gushing blood; in reality, he did not bleed profusely.). The incident caused Brutus to miss his upcoming Intercontinental Championship match against the Honky Tonk Man, who lost to Beefcake's replacement, the Ultimate Warrior.
- Earthquake blind-siding and injuring Hulk Hogan on The Brother Love Show. Viewers are asked to send cards and letters to the "ailing" Hogan, who was said to be depressed over his injuries and considering retirement.
- Rick "The Model" Martel (kayfabe) blinding Roberts with his "Arrogance" cologne. Roberts was blind for weeks, but continued to make appearances on Superstars attempting to take revenge on Martel.
- Earthquake declares a war on animal mascots, then makes his point by crushing Roberts' pet python, Damien, in the ring.
- The Undertaker and Paul Bearer locking the Ultimate Warrior in an air-tight casket on Bearer's Funeral Parlor set. Later, Jake Roberts offered to help Warrior in their feud with a series of psychological tactics, but wound up locking him into a chamber filled with snakes, turning himself heel.
- In post-SummerSlam '91 footage shown on Superstars, Jake Roberts crashed the wedding reception of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Elizabeth opens a gift package containing a live snake.
- The Roberts/Savage feud intensified throughout the fall of 1991, reaching a boiling point when Roberts enticed Savage, a color commentator at the time, into the ring, and proceeded to beat him down and release a cobra that bit Savage on the arm. Savage was just about to be "reinstated" to wrestle after having lost a retirement match to Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. The (devenomized) snake actually did bite into Savage's arm during the segment.
- Papa Shango casting "witch doctor" spells over the Ultimate Warrior, resulting in severe vomiting and convulsions.
- Nailz (kayfabe) injuring the Big Boss Man with a nightstick as payback for Boss Man's allegedly beating him while Nailz was incarcerated under Boss Man's watch.
Notable title changes
Note: Many of these title changes were not aired for up to several weeks after they took place. In some instances, the previous title holder 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 World Tag Team Championship February 1987.
- The Honky Tonk Man defeating Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship in June 1987.
- Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) beating the Hart Foundation for the Tag Team titles in October 1987.
- Demolition defeating the Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) for the Tag Team titles in November 1989.
- The Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku) beating Demolition for the Tag Team titles in December 1989.
- Mr. Perfect defeating Tito Santana for the vacant Intercontinental title in May 1990.
- Mr. Perfect beating Kerry Von Erich for the Intercontinental Championship in December 1990.
- Diesel defeating Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship in April 1994.
The commentary team on Superstars underwent many changes as the years passed. With a few rare exceptions, the team would always consist of one or two commentators who supported the face wrestlers, and one who supported the heels (this presentation is, to a lesser extent, still used today). The hosts of Superstars are listed below in chronological order with the debut episode of the team in parentheses:
- Vince McMahon, Jesse "the Body" Ventura, and Bruno Sammartino (September 6th, 1986)
- McMahon and Ventura (March 26th, 1988)
- McMahon and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (August 25th, 1990)
- McMahon, Piper, and the Honky Tonk Man (December 8th 1990)
- McMahon, Piper, and Randy "Macho Man" Savage (March 30, 1991)
- McMahon and Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig (November 30, 1991)
- McMahon, Savage, and Jerry "the King" Lawler (December 11th, 1992)
- McMahon and Lawler
- McMahon and Johnny Polo
- McMahon and Stan Lane
- McMahon and Dok Hendrix (April 15th, 1995)
- McMahon, Jim Ross, and Lawler
- McMahon, Ross, and Hennig (December 2nd, 1995)
- Ross and Hennig
- Ross and Jim Cornette
Superstars ended it's syndication run in September 1996, moving to the USA Network. Beginning with the March 9, 1997 episode, the format of Superstars was changed from original matches back to a recap show. In addition, the show got a new theme song performed by the DX Band.