What, were you born yesterday? The ratings were ridiculously low when he was champion
I love when people like you try to bring ratings up, to determine what was bad.
You do know the rating system is based on a select 25,000 households and the number is determined by what those select households watch. You can participate in the Nielsen study for up to 5 years.
But, since you want to talk about ratings, as if they matter, talk about this. HBK won the title at WM 12 and for the first 7 weeks of his reign, WWE was winning the ratings, even drawing a 4.7 and 4.1. On top of that, ratings were higher for WWE at that time, than during the reign of the previous 2 champions, Diesel and Bret Hart, who both occasionally outdrew Nitro. Ratings began to drop when Hall & Nash jumped ship and the NWO angle started.
HBK's second title reign after Royal Rumble 1997 saw WWE draw slightly more than with the previous champion, Sid. His third reign after Survivor Series 1997, WWE had the highest ratings stretch they've had since HBK's first reign, often drawing over 3.0.
Comparing the ratings during HBK's reign to those of the Attitude Era, they weren't really low, it's just that the Attitude Era had high ratings (likely because a new set of households took part in the Nielsen study). Fact is, HBK's title reigns saw WWE gain more "viewers" than the previous champions before him.
Anyway, I say Alberto Del Rio. Just wasn't ready and seems to have had a forgotten run (a rather short run). WWE gave him too much too early and his career never benefited from it. He's just now starting to become slightly interesting.