I know what you're saying, but to be fair, some people just never manage to click with the audience. Lex Luger is an example of this, they wanted to make him face of the company after Hogan left, but the audience just didn't care. We may have a similar case in our hands currently.
Hell, Cena himself has never truly clicked with the whole audience. He was extremely over at first and has always been loved by the female audience (kids joined in as his superman push started) but not all men were fans of his and slowly but surely, they turned on him. He had the misfortune of the hate bandwagon spreading fast so his overness turned into "controversy" (WWE's idea) but on the other hand, he's been a consistent seller of merchandise which has kept the boat afloat somewhere in between, rather than at the very bottom or at the very top.
Was Punk not clicking with casuals? It doesn't appear that he is a stand-alone figure for viewers to singularly tune in to, although there were past indicators that viewers were drawn to his promos more then his matches (a worrying trend for what he's been trying to preach, regardless). That part is one of the few grey shades in an otherwise widely appraised face run by audiences, however. Let's be honest with ourselves, the twilight period of 2011 saw him pitted mainly against unconsolidated main event figures such as ADR and Miz to formulate the ME scene. With no particular angle resting on it aside from a few back and forth matches it wasn't exactly compelling viewing, nor was the injection of Cena to a few gimmick-based PPVs.
Speaking of Cena, your point on his connection to the overreaching audience has some merit. The reality is, however, his 'mixed popularity' has been a major selling point for most of his career and continues to be. His arena reception means nothing in the great scheme of his overarching appeal, namely the projection of his branding. The best thing they did for the legacy of John Cena (business-wise) was redirect his key demographic to the younger audiences. He still maintained many of his older fans mid 2008 when this movement became more noticeable as well.
Although it is a unique dynamic they’ve come across, it will still be a career marred by infamy. When we look back on the character it’ll probably be looked on a little more positively like most things are. Picture this; the top face that was not fully accepted, but wouldn’t change in spite of it. It would have a great ring to it if it wasn’t for a few things; namely the smarks laying their boots into his poor abilities that broke the “fourth wall” of kayfabe. As you said, the legacy of John Cena will always be tainted by his inability to incite the desired response from all audiences (despite it being turned into a positive somewhat). I ask though, where has face Punk received the same level of hostility from the masses based on something like his ability or even his appeal?
It's not about a one time deal, it's about a pattern, and Punk proved time after time that he's not an attraction. He can be over with your core audience that are coming to the arenas and that can bring a wrestler to certain level, especially today when the depth in the talent pool is at an all-time low. But to draw the masses, you need that imaginary IT factor and the look of a star to be able to captivate the people, it's the same "turn heads" presence, Punk is not that guy and with everything they gave him, everything you can give to a wrestler for over 6 years, will never be that guy.
Obviously “imaginary” isn’t quite the word you’re looking for when describing the “It” factor, although I agree it exists without it being necessarily tangible. For all the talk about booking in this thread, however, Punk has had quite a checkered history in spite all his accolades. I think he’d be the first to argue that continuity was a real issue at some junctures and I’m not necessarily referring to his WWE Title run. Regardless, the white-hot period he came riding in on after that shoot should be proof that Punk can be a large contributor to the company’s profit, so it’s shortsighted to say he can’t amount to anything of worth when he probably would’ve come close to doing such had it not been for such a weak conclusion.
Let’s face it, most of today’s problems lies with WWE’s lack of captivating angles and programs. That’s what I feel it mostly boils down to, and I encourage others to come at that remark with reasons as to why they think it isn't the case.
Also, these overzealous outburst from the D-Bry sector over their boy drawing is growing into something quite irritating. I realize a few of you would likely be taking the piss over this 'criteria' so many fans parrot to make their boys legit. I also know, however, that there will be a few jumping for joy over the news and running over to threads about, say, Randy Orton to rub it in. It ain't a two way street people, and you can't blindly follow something and disregard it when it suits you without
making yourself look like an idiot.
Wonder what some of you will be when D-Bry gets that inevitable loss in viewer numbers during one of his major segment. Creating more of these intolerable mark wars? Probably.