In an alternative reality where Steve Austin remains healthy, motivated and avoids personal issues and does not leave WWE in early 2002, where would you see him fit long-term (2003 to 2006ish) with the Lesnars, Orton, Batistas, Cenas coming into the WWE main
A title run in 2003? Goldberg vs. Austin? Hogan vs. Austin? Jump to Smackdown to put Lesnar over?
Austin was done, my dude, and all the stuff with him leaving only served to shift attention away from how badly his back was wrecked for a little while. Once he actually came back it was clear that he had nothing left in the tank. In retrospect, if people had been a little more clear-headed about everything, the best use would have been for him to put over Brock and then move into a new role behind the scenes.