In the summer of 1994, a four-piece punk rock outfit from California by the name of Rancid released their second full-length album entitled Let's Go.
Thanks in part to the huge success shared by contemporaries Green Day and The Offspring around the same time, the album did better than expected and the band saw itself in the middle of a major label bidding war while the video for its single, Salvation, played in heavy rotation on MTV.
You know, back when they played videos, pre-The Situation and 16 and Pregnant days.
In the end, Rancid decided to stay with their indie label home Epitaph and released what many consider to be their magnum opus, ... And Out Come the Wolves.
Accessible yet still wholly Rancid, poppy but with an edge, the album was a snapshot of the year prior for the band; the whirlwind of success threatening to capsize them while they struggled to maintain their punk rock ethos. The album title itself was an indictment of their success and those who sought to capitalize on it. It was around this time the band infamously stated they would never to a major label.
Eight years later, they signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records to distribute their latest album.
The record, Indestructible, was the best-selling since ... Wolves but criticized for its cleaner, poppier sound by some of the band's more tenured fans.
I know you're probably asking yourselves, Cagesiders. What do four punk rockers from California have to do with wrestling?
In the case of CM Punk, just about everything.
It's been nearly seven years since the Straight Edge Messiah put pen to paper with WWE and Vince McMahon. In those seven years, we've seen him go from Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) poster boy -- a backhanded compliment but noteworthy, nonetheless -- to a solid mid-card talent to B-show world champion to full blown WWE Superstar worthy of being plastered on a video game cover.
It's been an amazing ride, especially for those who have been with Punk since his days with Ring of Honor. Based on his size and look, the Chicago native wasn't supposed to make it. He was supposed to get chewed up and spit out by the machine, sent back to the indies jaded and bitter.
But he didn't.
In what amounts to a minor miracle, Punk was able to continue wrestling under the moniker he became famous under and slowly but surely, crawled his way to the top of the WWE mountain, to stand alongside John Cena and Randy Orton, the other two full-time Superstar powerhouses on the roster today.
Hell, the guy main evented a pay-per-view (PPV) against Triple H last year. There's no doubt Punk is "in."
The catalyst for the shift from a wrestler who WWE will throw a title on to a Superstar WWE will send to appear on talk shows was his "pipe bomb" promo from last summer. Playing off the real fact his contract was soon up, Punk promised to win the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank and leave the company with title in tow, never to return again.
I don't know exactly when he actually did re-sign but my money's on it happening long before he ever sat on top of the ramp, cross-legged and ranted until the microphone was cut off. It was in this contract he got pretty much anything he could want as a wrestler.
For one, he was getting paid -- presumably A LOT -- to do what he loves doing. But he also got perks like his own bus. His merchandise selection rivals that of John Cena, complete with a variety of shirts, hats, arm sleeves, teddy bears... you name it and WWE has plastered CM Punk's name on it.
And his fans applauded him for it.
This, THIS is your payment for 60 minute classics with Samoa Joe. This is what you deserve for providing some of the best wrestling in the world even with only a few dozen in attendance. What goes around comes around and it finally came around in a big way for CM Punk.
But something changed.
It was subtle at first - a snide remark here, a crude joke there - but Punk no longer was the wrestler tenured fans knew, loved and respected.
The biggest complaint concerning Cena is that for all his talk of rising about hate and being a star, he himself is the biggest bully on the WWE roster. And recently, Punk has basically becoming a pierced, tattooed, scruffy version of Cena.
It should be no secret why I compared Punk to Rancid. He's a huge fan of the band and beyond that, he's friends with the guys, having taken guitarist Lars Frederiksen to this year's Hall of Fame with him.
But just like the Berkeley rockers and Indestructible, Punk has become someone I don't recognize.
He's changed, minor tweaks here and there, to be more palatable to the larger mainstream audience. Unfortunately, dick and fart jokes still play huge. As does misogyny, it would seem.
Punk hasn't sold out. He's built his career and character of being a straight edge punk kid from the tough streets of The Second City. He's still that. It's the nuances which have changed. He's the other side of the same coin Cena represents. It's dumbed down, tepid and not at all what we've come to expect and enjoy.
I don't fault Punk -- as I didn't Rancid back then -- for trying to be as successful as possible.
In the same vein, I don't think I should be faulted for no longer being a fan.
"Say goodbye when you sign, now I'm crucified." - Disorder and Disarray, ... And Out Come the Wolves