HICKORY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – For years, he’s grappled with a pro wrestling addiction. 

“It’s like a soap opera for men,” says Ricky, who’s a collector of all things “rasslin.’”

His collection includes action figures, autographed photos and even cereal boxes. Ricky’s the ultimate fan, not to be confused with legend Ultimate Warrior.

“Me and Jeff Hardy,” he says, pointing to a photo with the wrestling star. 

“This is me,” Ricky said, showing us another prized memento. “And this is me having dinner with WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart, the ‘Mouth of the South.’” 

Buckle up, his living room is wall-to-wall memorabilia. 

“I just love collecting wrestling belts,” he told Queen City News, 

“The Fighting for Autism championship belt,” he says, holding up the award he designed himself. 

Independent pro wrestlers Ricky Autistic and Redneck Rebel square off in Gastonia. (Pepper Autistic)

In the ring, he’s Ricky Autistic.

“It’s autism power time!” he declares, waving a flag with the words “Autism Awareness.” 

He’s been an independent pro wrestler for three years. 

“That’s what I want to teach others with autism, ‘Live your dream,’” said Ricky. 

“I enjoy it, but for me it’s a little bit challenging because I have to focus 100 percent on my opponent and on the referee,” he explained.  

Mr. Autistic has taken a few lumps along the way, but self-doubt didn’t keep him down. 

“One guy actually came to me and said that I have no business being anywhere in the ring, or anywhere near a wrestling company, and I almost quit that day,” Ricky says. 

Carrying the Autism Awareness flag means too much to him, so he’s not ready to retire just yet. 

“I think I have a few more years left in me.”

In Gastonia, Ricky Autistic returns to the ring for an Underground Carolina Wrestling clash against Redneck Rebel. Let’s just say things could go south in a hurry. UCW presents “November Reign” Saturday, Nov. 17, at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9337. 

We got a preview outside Autistic’s house.

“You’re gonna see what ‘autism power’ is all about, son,” Autistic says, staring down his opponent. 

“You’re gonna see what the ‘rebel power’ is all about,” Redneck Rebel responds. 

Then, a melee broke out in the front yard as the two pounded each other with a variety of wrestling moves. Ricky’s mom Pepper recorded it with her phone. But was it for evidence?

Rebel proceeded to pound Autistic him with a stick. All the punishment aside, they actually have something in common. 

Photo from Jenna Pinto video

Redneck Rebel has an Autism Awareness patch on his jeans.

“Yeah, I’ve got two grandsons that have got autism,” he says. 

Twins Hayden and Kaiden are 8 years old and are nonverbal.

“That breaks my heart, it really do,” said Rebel. 

He believes in Ricky Autistic’s message so much that he wants to be tag-team wrestling partners and help set an example for his grandkids.  

“I know they can do anything they can set their mind to,” Rebel says.

“I’m hoping to let people with autism know that they can do anything that a normal person can do,” said Ricky Autistic. 

Together they can win on so many levels.