Although the legacy of Starrcade predated WrestleMania by over 16 months, Starrcade did not make its pay-per-view debut until November 1987. The "Thanksgiving tradition" of Starrcade was usurped by the WWF's Survivor Series, which the WWF began in an attempt to lure viewers away from the NWA. Additionally, Vince McMahon allegedly told cable companies that they could not carry WrestleMania IV if they did not offer the inaugural Survivor Series.
The following year, Starrcade permanently relocated to the month of December, where it stayed throughout the rest of its existence (although it bounced back-and-forth as to whether it was held before or after Christmas Day).
Just like Hulk Hogan was the star of the first eight WrestleMania events, Ric Flair was the star of the first several Starrcade events, headlining the first eight events (he wrestled in a mask as The Black Scorpion at Starrcade 90).
Below is the complete list of each Starrcade event with dates and the Main Event match listed (the events were not numbered, but the sequence is listed here for convenience and cross-reference):
- Starrcade #1: November 24, 1983 -- Ric Flair pinned NWA Champion Harley Race in a steel cage to win the title
- Starrcade #2: November 22, 1984 -- NWA Champion Ric Flair beat Dusty Rhodes to win $1-million when referee Joe Frazier stopped the match due to blood loss.
- Starrcade #3: November 28, 1985 -- Dusty Rhodes pinned NWA Champion Ric Flair to win temporary possession of the title (the title was returned).
- Starrcade #4: November 27, 1986 -- NWA Champion Ric Flair wrestled Nikita Koloff (substituting for Magnum T.A.) to a double disqualification.
- Starrcade #5: November 26, 1987 -- Ric Flair pinned NWA Ronnie Garvin in a steel cage to win the title.
- Starrcade #6: December 26, 1988 -- NWA Champion Ric Flair pinned Lex Luger to retain the title.
- Starrcade #7: December 13, 1989 -- Sting beat Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and Great Muta in a red robbin tournament.
- Starrcade #8: December 16, 1990 -- NWA Champion Sting beat The Black Scorpion to retain the title (after the match, the Scorpion was unmasked as Ric Flair).
- Starrcade #9: December 29, 1991 -- Sting eliminated WCW Champion Lex Luger to win Battle Bowl.
- Starrcade #10: December 28, 1992 -- The Great Muta eliminated Barry Windham to win Battle Bowl.
- Starrcade #11: December 27, 1993 -- Ric Flair pinned WCW Champion Big Van Vader to win the title.
- Starrcade #12: December 27, 1994 -- WCW Champion Hulk Hogan pinned The Butcher to retain the title.
- Starrcade #13: December 27, 1995 -- Ric Flair pinned WCW Champion Randy Savage to win the title.
- Starrcade #14: December 29, 1996 -- Rowdy Roddy Piper beat WCW Champion Hulk Hogan by submission in a non-title match.
- Starrcade #15: December 28, 1997 -- Sting beat WCW Champion Hollywood Hogan by submission for temporary possession of the title after Bret Hart restarted the match (title vacated).
- Starrcade #16: December 27, 1998 -- Kevin Nash pinned WCW Champion Goldberg to win the title (this match ended Goldberg's undefeated streak).
- Starrcade #17: December 19, 1999 -- WCW Champion Bret Hart beat Bill Goldberg when Roddy Piper stopped the match under duress from The Powers That Be (this match led to the end of Bret's career).
- Starrcade #18: December 17, 2000 -- WCW Champion Scott Steiner forced Sid Vicious to submit to retain the title.