After WWE's 2011 tour of Mexico was complete, there was little reason to keep the WWE Championship around Alberto Del Rio's waist. The focus shifted back to the American fans, who were clamoring for their newly found hero, CM Punk, to bring legitimacy back to the WWE title scene.
At Survivor Series, CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio to begin his third reign as WWE Champion, which continues to this day. This reign has one major flaw, however.
Since winning the title, Punk has closed only one pay-per-view, that being TLC in December 2011, where he defeated Alberto Del Rio and The Miz in a triple threat match.
Suspiciously, John Cena was left off the card for this pay-per-view, likely as a way for WWE to gauge how well Punk can sell a show on his own. The main event was undeniably weak, though; Punk's victory was far too predictable, as the fans did not believe Del Rio or The Miz could feasibly walk out as champion (seeing as they had both failed as champion already).
Why buy a show if the outcome is already painfully obvious? Interesting characters require interesting storylines, and vice versa—there is no other way. The mediocre buy-rate for TLC 2011 is in no way CM Punk's fault. The blame falls entirely on the WWE creative team.
Since that event, John Cena as headlined six pay-per-views without holding a major championship, while WWE Champion CM Punk has defended his title on the undercard. The longer this persists, the less prestigious the WWE title appears in fans' eyes. This is especially true for new fans, particularly young children who will grow up with the notion that the title is not important.
CM Punk could potentially be in the main event of SummerSlam this Sunday, as he is defending the title against Big Show and John Cena (Triple H versus Brock Lesnar will likely go on last, though). If WWE is planning something major for this title match and it does indeed go on last, the company will effectively prove that John Cena is more important than the WWE Championship, as the title will only appear in a main event if Cena is involved.
Only time will tell how WWE presents its top prize in the future. I certainly hope the title returns to prominence and transcends the drawing power of individual superstars again at some point, but it might take some time after all the trouble it has seen since the Attitude Era.