Bert Prentice, who had been a fixture of Tennessee wrestling for decades, has died after battling cancer.
A notice from his USA Championship Wrestling shared the news of Prentice’s passing:
It is with a heavy heart that USA Championship Wrestling announces the passing of our leader, our family, & our friend Bert Prentice.
He will be greatly missed by all that knew him, as well as the lives he touch over the years though wrestling and his philanthropic endeavors for the children.
Rest in Peace our dear friend
In the summer of 2017, Prentice did an in-depth interview with Jim Cornette going over his long history in the pro wrestling business.
Prentice was the youngest of ten children and was born in 1958. His mother was working the box office for Verne Gagne and other groups in the Midwest, which allowed Prentice to be exposed to the industry as early as six years old when he sold pictures and eventually, did ring announcing at the age of eleven and refereeing by fourteen.
His on-air persona largely consisted of his managerial run as “Christopher Love”, which was a name given when he started in Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling in 1983. He was brought to the territory to write programs but was later given the manager’s role and linked with Tully Blanchard. The year coincided with Southwest losing its television on the USA Network in favor of the WWF’s All-American Wrestling program.
Prentice would manage in Joe Pedicino’s Global Wrestling Wrestling and then headed to Memphis, which is where he would put down his roots and established the state as his home base for decades.
In 1994, he ventured outside of Tennessee promoting Ozark Mountain Wrestling in Arkansas. The promotion went through iterations as North American All-Star Wrestling and Music City Wrestling.
After the fallout of the USWA, Prentice returned to Nashville and eventually, was able to book the Nashville Fairgrounds after assistance from Christine Jarrett to get the building.
In 2002, NWA TNA launched in Huntsville Alabama, but quickly scaled-down and were able to sublease the Nashville Fairground and work with Prentice. TNA would run Wednesday night pay-per-views while Prentice promoted his shows on Saturdays.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bert Prentice – who was involved in the very early days of TNA and was the host of Xplosion alongside Jeremy Borash. We offer our sincere condolences to his friends and family.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 4, 2021
In the 2017 interview with Cornette, Prentice described how TNA flooded the market with free tickets not only making it tough for Prentice to sell tickets with local talent but it damaged the market permanently.
Prentice was involved with TNA in its early days where he described it as being paid “fantastic money” and co-hosted Xplosion with Jeremy Borash.
In later years, he launched USA Championship Wrestling that was based in Jackson, Tennessee. Prentice would often book the legends of Tennessee but focused his local Saturday morning television on the rising talent rather than spend television time promoting the stars everyone already knew.
Prentice had his role on the local show doing the stand-up interviews and was regarded for promoting at the local level for such a long time, helping young talent get their start and becoming familiar with working on television at the local level.
He was extremely close with the area legends including Cornette and Jerry Lawler.