Michael Hernandez calls it his Clark Kent job. A slight slouch rounds his back from behind the desk where he sits, covered in electronics. As he speaks, his mild manner is complemented by a similar choice of clothing: jeans, a T-shirt and a sweater. But his day job as maintenance man and video editor isn’t an innocuous front for ulterior motives, even if it is at Longmont’s New Creations Church. As he sits in his office with his wife and son looking on, Hernandez says this is how he got into the same business marked by people like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Hurricane and Meat. Hernandez of Longmont, alias Michael J. Machine Gun, is the announcer for the minor league of professional wrestling in Denver. And it was the church that got him there. “My wife and I used to do a young adults group here,” he said. “I asked if we could have a wrestling event at the church. They said, ‘Don’t scratch my floors.’ ”
So Michael J. Machine Gun moved it outside.
Behind the desk, Hernandez says he’s no different than Machine Gun behind the ropes, where fans show up to cheer on the hyperreality of what started as World Wrestling Entertainment—an industry with as many competing truths as the story lines that characterize its players. Since the days of Hulk Hogan, who told kids to take their vitamins before handing out his beat downs, to the Attitude Era marked by Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWE now prides itself on its PG rating, appearing on Saturday mornings between popular cartoons—the ring, more of a stage where a story line is set, but not yet written. In Denver, that’s where Machine Gun comes in, interpreting what has passed and revving up the crowd with what may follow. Fans begin young, believing the spectacle is real, growing to adults who seek escape in cheering on their heroes. And then there’s Machine Gun, whose goatee does little to disguise his smile as he describes the Clark Kents of Denver’s wrestling scene and why it is they fight. Which, according to The Hurricane, a mild-mannered reporter by day and ruthless fighter by night, it’s a fight “for truth, justice and the WWE way.”
WHO: Michael Hernandez aka Michael J. Machine Gun
WHAT: Minor league wrestling
WHEN: June 15, July 6, Aug. 10, Sept. 14 at The Buffalo Rose in Golden. June 23, July 14, Aug. 18 and Sept. 22 at Casselmans Bar and Venue in Denver