On March 18, 2020, Suge D – also known as Sugar Dunkerton – made his debut with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) when he faced off against Kip Sabian on AEW DARK. It was a huge opportunity on a national platform for the indie star, but it wouldn’t be his last appearance for AEW. As the weeks went on and AEW began to tape closed-door events for AEW amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, part of the charm of the tapings was the use of the other wrestlers on hand as part of the audience. On the April 8 episode of AEW Dynamite, Chris Jericho – who was on commentary for the evening – routinely made reference to Suge D in the crowd, referring to him as “Pineapple Pete” for much of the show (due to his pineapple Hawaiian shirt).
The #AmericanNightmare @CodyRhodes gets assistance at ringside by @SugarDunkerton against #TheChairman @Perfec10n in your main event of the evening!
Watch #AEWDynamite NOW on @TNTDrama 8e/7c #AEWonTNT @AEWonTNT pic.twitter.com/z0NgFGAIUY
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) April 9, 2020
As with many one-liners from “Le Champion”, Pineapple Pete started trending on Twitter and suddenly Suge D was going viral. That lead to one of Jericho’s Inner Circle stablemates, “The Spanish God” Sammy Guevara, taking exception to this newfound glory, challenging Suge D to a match on this Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite. But while AEW has become a hot spot for young indie stars like Kris Statlander, Jungle Boy, Sonny Kiss and more, Suge D is a far more interesting story in regards to his overnight boom in AEW – he’s actually a 17-year veteran who’s finally getting the recognition he’s deserved.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) April 11, 2020
Augusta, Georgia’s Sugar Dunkerton began his career in 2003 working regional indies such as Canton’s Pro Wrestling Evolution (PWE), Royston’s Alternative Pro Wrestling (APW), and Alabama’s Great Championship Wrestling. By 2008 he was wrestling for IWA Mid South and in 2009 debuted with CHIKARA. He joined forces Dasher Hatfield in an early incarnation of The Throwbacks.
Suge continued to rise in CHIKARA, joining Icarus‘ Team FIST in 2010, alongside NXT’s Johnny Gargano and AEW’s Chuck Taylor, where his comedic timing was a perfect fit for the more family-friendly atmosphere of the company. The following year, he would make his debut with Beyond Wrestling in the stable KOA with Pinkie Sanchez, Aaron Epic, and Taka Suzuki. Alongside Epic in the tag team Locked Up, they made waves with Chicago’s Resistance Pro Wrestling (RPW), where they captured RPW Tag Team gold and Suge would win the RPW Heavyweight title in early 2015.
In 2011, Suge D would make his debut in Japan with former WWE and ECW Superstars Tajiri‘s SMASH promotion, as well as debuting with other top US indies like Dragon Gate USA, EVOLVE Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). “SMASH was an incredible experience,” he told 411Mania back in 2011. “I learned so much watching the pacing and flow of their matches and they have a wonderful locker room of professionals. I fell in love with the Japanese experience as a whole. There’s a respect shown to wrestlers there that doesn’t quite translate in America.”
While Suge D made his official UK debut in 2010 with Northern Ireland’s Irish Whip Wrestling (IWW), it wouldn’t be until 2018 that he finally returned to the United Kingdom, and he did it with gusto. Like fellow US indie star David Starr, Suge D embraced the exploding UK indie scene, even more so than he had his time in the US. By the time Suge D returned to Great Britain, the UK indie scene had seen many of its top stars heading to WWE for NXT UK – it was the perfect time for a seasoned veteran to make his move and mark. “The thing to keep in mind is that the UK got to the point where they were sitting on so much talent at any given time,” he said to Calling Spots in February of 2019. “Now it’s finally recognised so it leaves a gap and I feel like I came in at a very good time and I am fortunate to be taking advantage of that and it’s good for all parts because there are some guys that shouldn’t just be indie forever. Those guys do deserve a get that big shot and to make some good money and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out but here I am in the meantime.”
“In the meantime” he was working all across the UK in some of its top promotions. He was working for the likes of PROGRESS Wrestling, RevPro, Preston City Wrestling (PCW), IPW, and Tidal Championship Wrestling (TCW). In August of 2018, he won the TCW Championship and held it for 284-days, the second-longest reign to date. Soon his UK work would surpass his US itinerary. “The funny thing is I think I’ve done more matches over here now than I have done in the states, at least within a calendar period,” he said to Calling Spots. “Last year I was here for about 6-7 months and now starting this year, I am here for a six month stretch February to July and then probably be back a little bit later in the year. I really like what I am finding out here, it’s a big sense of discovery…”
In 2020, he’s returned to the US, once again working indies near his home such as ACTION Wrestling, Southern Fried Championship Wrestling (SFCW) and Glory Pro, and now he’s finally getting the chance to show the world what he’s capable of as he takes a huge leap with AEW. As LL Cool J once said, “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” Suge D has been perfecting his craft for nearly 20-years and has only gotten better everywhere he’s graced in those 17 years. And now is the perfect time for the world to get on board with Sugar Dunkerton, even if it’s just because of Chris Jericho’s call of “Pineapple Pete” – because you’ll stay for the man not the nickname.
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8pm ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 6pm on their YouTube Channel.