Will he ever return? Is this all part of a larger angle?
Or are his bridges thoroughly burnt now? Is that ugly belt going to be preserved for eternity next to Punk's cans of Red Bull, and never seen again in the WWE?
Punk seems to be fairly adamant that he is not signing a new contract. Recent interviews indicate that he is tired (as you probably would be after five years on the WWE's gruelling schedule—particularly if you're an insomniac) and wants a break. So for the time being, he will probably be off our screens.
Sad faces all round.
Dry your tears, though; several commentators, including people who have worked with Punk, have suggested that this is a temporary break, and after an extended rest, he will return.
So how long is this rest likely to be?
I suspect we'll see Punk return to WWE programming in the run-up to the Rumble, heralding a storyline that will culminate at Wrestlemania.
Dwayne, as we know, is a company man. If that's what he hopes, that's either what is already planned to happen...or what he is going to get.
And why do I think this?
Purely and simply, because if he wasn't going to come back, he wouldn't have been allowed to leave with the title.
For all the WWE's qualities, they have often had a streak of vindictiveness when it comes to people who want out, or who haven't shown quite enough loyalty for their liking.
In this instance, Punk has been allowed an incredible amount of leeway with his promos and shoots, with Vince McMahon rubber-stamping his ideas.
Punk getting exactly what he wanted means he'll be back.
So in the meantime, what will happen?
I rather think we'll see some appearances from Punk on the indie circuit, with that well-refrigerated belt in tow, keeping up the "I'll go and be best in the world someplace else!" angle.
Those wrestlers who were name-checked in Punk's shoots—Colt Cabana and his ilk—have been reported to be turning down imminent bookings, which could be legit or could just be a swerve to make us think the WWE are hiring the Ring of Honor alumni.
If Cabana, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero and the rest have signed with WWE, we're gearing up not just for a new Summer of Punk, but the 2011 of Punk. And maybe the 2012 of Punk as well.
When CM Punk returns, the break will have given creative time to sort themselves out and think up more appropriate things for him to do rather than feud with Rey Mysterio again. (Do let me know in the comments who you'd like to see him feud with—Steve Austin, anyone?)
But it's definitely a "when," not an "if."
Because CM Punk is, as he said, the best in the world. And he needs to be appreciated, used properly, and on our televisions—every week.
And immortalised in his very own ice cream bar.