CM Punk has been the WWE champion for nearly a year, but it is still abundantly clear that John Cena is the true face of the company.
The fact that Cena has been around for so long is able to connect with kids has almost everything to do with that, but Punk proved on Monday that he isn't ready to ascend to the top of the ladder.
During an entertaining closing segment, Punk was engaged in a fight with Vince McMahon when Ryback came to the aid of the WWE Chairman. Punk tried to escape, but Cena threw him back into harm's way. The WWE champion was able to slither away from Ryback and hightailed it into the crowd.
While amongst the fans, Punk looked on as McMahon delivered a promo and demanded that Punk choose to face either Cena or Ryback at Hell in a Cell. That should have been the seminal moment of the show, but Punk made headlines for all the wrong reasons as he turned around a struck a fan.
The video would seem to indicate that Punk hit a guy who was guilty of absolutely nothing. Punk was clearly standoffish as soon as he entered the crowd as he was slapping fans' hands away and then it appeared as though he almost got pushed down the stairs twice by overzealous members of the WWE Universe.
The fan that Punk ultimately punched put sunglasses on just a second before it happened and the most he could have possibly done was brush up against Punk with his elbow. For whatever reason, though, it set the WWE champion off and it essentially marred a segment that was supposed to be about Punk choosing his opponent for the upcoming pay-per-view.
I can't say that Punk's actions really surprised me, though. As much as I enjoy Punk as a wrestler and a performer, it seems pretty clear that he is a somewhat miserable person. I have heard many stories of Punk berating and embarrassing fans, and while there may be some fans out there who could use a good tongue lashing, the WWE champion ought to be above that.
You would absolutely never see a guy like Cena winding up and backhanding a fan in the crowd regardless of whether he was being touched. Wrestlers have been going into the crowd for years and the fans have been touching them for equally as long, so that is something that Punk needs to deal with.
Fans really should keep their hands to themselves since it's pretty strange to have the need to touch a person you don't even know, but the crowd is their domain and it isn't possible to stop them from doing it. I have long felt like Punk has an arrogant demeanor, and his actions at the end of RAW only confirmed that for me.
Was Punk hitting the fan an example of why he can't be the face of WWE?
If Punk is ever going to reach the same level as Cena, then he can't do things like this because they reflect badly on the company. I understand that Punk is a heel and that they're supposed to act in such a way, but when he attacked that fan, it had nothing to do with Punk the heel. I have no doubt that was Punk the person, and McMahon can't have that type of person carrying the mail for his empire.
Whether you love or hate him, Cena knows how to act correctly around fans and that is probably one of the most important things when it comes to being a star in WWE. Punk has gone a very long way in spite of his deficiencies in that area, but I'm not sure that McMahon can ever trust him to be at the same level as Cena. In all likelihood, he will always be one notch below him.
When it initially happened, I tried to convince myself that it was a work meant to get Punk some more heel heat, but I quickly realized there was no rationalizing his actions. Punk was clearly miffed about being touched and pushed around, so he snapped and took his anger out on someone who didn't seem to be involved in touching him at all.
What is even more telling about Punk's personal character is that he did it with his boss staring right at him. Punk has no filter, and while that is great for us as fans, it isn't something that is going to help him advance any further in the WWE.
Say what you will about being a company man, but it has gotten Cena very far in life. I'm not saying that I want Punk to be Cena, because I find Cena's character to be stale and he obviously needs a villainous foil, but Punk can learn a lot from Cena when it comes to properly handling fans.
You had better believe that there is a sizable lawsuit in store against the WWE and that fan is likely to win it with ease. I sincerely hope that Punk's actions don't cause him to drop the title prematurely and alter creative plans, but based on what he witnessed on Monday night, I'm sure McMahon's confidence in his WWE champion wavered.