On Friday night I saw one of my favorite heels in independent wrestling in his retirement match. Teddy King didn’t go out with his back on the mat. He went out with his bare back on a pile of Legos. It was a gutsy choice King himself made to put over a good friend who takes bumps almost every night on Legos, a man they call Mr. Brickster. Teddy and Brickster had a great match, but the thing that impressed me the most was seeing Brickster seek out Tracy Smothers at intermission to get his feedback. I knew from that he was a man who not only loves what he does but is truly committed to getting better. Until I talked with him a few days later, I didn’t know the half of it.
Born Ricky Perillo, Mr. Brickster hails from Buffalo, New York. His parents separated when he was very young and he didn’t have much. “My mom worked her tail off for us,” he says. “She’s everything to me. She really took great care of us. It was Dad who introduced my to wrestling, though, and that’s how the two of us bonded after my parents separated.”
Brickster was an athlete and an artist as a kid. “I was captain of the football team, and I starred in the school musicals. My teammates would always come out to support me.” Having one foot in the theater and one on the football field laid a foundation (pun intended) for the message he now has, using Legos to bring people together.
As a young man of 21, Brickster was cast on the VH-1 reality series “I Love New York” as a character named Romance. The show became a big hit in the early days of reality TV, but Brickster admits he made a lot of bad decisions during that time. “I realized I was going down a bad path, and that’s when I turned back to God.”
Mr. Brickster’s parents were not religious people, but he had grown up a Christian thanks in part to his grandmother, who got him involved with the Circle C Christian Camp at an early age, a place he says changed his life. After coming to a dead end, he went back to the church. His renewed faith in God set him on the right path. “I met my wife through the church, and we’ve been married almost ten years now.”
Once he was out of the spotlight, Brickster got a regular job and became very successful, but after his Dad passed away, he felt called to go into professional wrestling. “My wife was not about it. She’s an ultra-conservative woman, and she just wasn’t feeling it. I told her I was going to start training, and see what happens.”
Mr. Brickster started training at Grapplers Anonymous in New York, where he got a solid education in how to work and how to respect the business. “That was when Lex Luger came into my life as well. Luger taught me a lot about making my brand and how to make sure everything I do tells a story. He also told me about a lot of the mistakes he made so that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.”
One door after another opened up for Mr. Brickster, and best of all, his wife came around and became a fan. He blew out his knee, which put him out of the ring for a while, but he took advantage of the time to watch film and learn as much as he could.
After getting back into the ring, Mr. Brickster felt the nudge to move from Buffalo to a larger entertainment city. He and his wife began praying for the right opportunity, and a door opened up in Nashville. Many of their friends thought they were making a big mistake, but once again, Brickster found himself in the right place at the right time. “I told my friend Dylan Hales I was headed to Nashville, and he connected me to Kerry Awful.”
Kerry Awful was not interested in training Mr. Brickster at first, but the newcomer blew him away with his passion for the business and for life. “It never felt like a job or burden to teach him,” says Awful. “He would drive for almost an hour to me, then another hour to our facility. He would then spend sometimes 4/5/6 hours in the ring with me. To the point of pure exhaustion sometimes. Then drive two hours home. This doesn’t include all the times at home watching tape for hours , upon hours, asking questions and taking notes. Paying dues by driving on his off weekends with me to set up the ring and ask questions not just to me, but to the people I look up to as well. He worked his damn tail off.”
It’s hard to argue with Brickster’s belief that he was called to be a wrestler when you see the path he’s taken. Sitting beneath the learning tree of Kerry Awful, who himself is one of Brutal Bob Evans’ staunchest disciples, Brickster found himself working with guys like Teddy King and Kevin Ku who not only excel in the ring but have the business savvy to succeed outside the ring. He has a brand and a plan, and he’s building a name for himself brick by brick (pun once again definitely intended).
Simply put, Mr. Brickster has become more than just a wrestler. He is a motivational speaker for kids and adults with vision to bring people together of every shape, size, and color. The father of a two-year old, Brickster loves speaking to children, and he’s found a warm audience in schools, wrestling promotions, and even businesses for his faith-inspired message.
“Much like Legos, we come come in all shapes and sizes, but if we build together, we can build beautiful things. We are better together. That’s my message, and it all comes from Jesus. I think it’s the right time for it, too.”
I had to ask Mr. Brickster what it feels like falling on Legos every night. “There’s nothing fun about it,” he says, “But it’s all part of the art.”
Mr. Brickster is enjoying his weekends on the road and his weekdays as a stay at home dad. He has a fantastic support system at home, beginning with his wife, and he has a goal. “I’m a WWE guy, and I’ve always wanted to work for the WWE. I want to end up there, or AEW.”
It may happen sooner rather than later. Mr. Brickster made an appearance as “The Librarian” in a recent episode of Being the Elite alongside Cody Rhodes. He’s on their radar, and judging from the roster they have built, he might find the perfect fit for his come one, come all message.
Fans in Nashville, Tennessee can celebrate Mr. Brickster’s one year anniversary in the business this weekend on Easter Sunday as he faces A.C. Mack at Southern Underground Pro Wrestling.
And be sure to check out his website or more information on Mr. Brickster the wrestler, the public speaker, and the man.
“Everyone is welcome, no matter who you are,” says Mr. Brickster. “We just have to build together.”
Well said, my friend.