Definitely too short. But the thing is, if he took as much time off as Shawn, there probably won't be a WWF because it would have been robbed of its hottest upcoming superstar at the time if Austin took 4 years off.
There is just one Stone Cold Steve Austin. I mean I respect Michaels and all, but he could surely take as many years off and it wouldn't make much of a difference to the business. With such a thin WWE line up in 98, Austin become the biggest draw the business has ever seen. If in 99 when he got injured, he took the time off and decided to come back four years down the line, it would be a killer decision from a business stand point, which I think even Austin knows. And if that had happened not many from the new era would have cared for Austin. Austin's greatness was in the fact that the fans that loved him, loved him just too much. If he had gone, they would have surely not accepted him back that easily. And add to the fact, that he would be quite old too.
The WWF then (in 1999) needed Austin and therefore would do anything in their power to get him back on track asap.
they both had serious injuries. some take longer than others. if austin had taken 4 years off, he still would have had a full career but he wouldnt have been as big as he was. also, austin didnt need 4 years to heal. shawn, first tried to rehab his injury, but after several months of that not working, had to get surgery and i believe he had at least 2, maybe 3. he was originally just going to come back for one match...8 years later he retired as the absolute best in the business.
Shawn's spinal cord was into bits.Its an injury which is much more serious than Austin's & needs much more time to heel.
Besides Shawn had achieved a lot & had a decent career,maybe Austin felt he needed to do a lot more.
Either way I dont give a shit about the whole drawing & merchandise sales argument,they dont mean anything to me & never will.I am satisfied Shawn came back & provided some fantastic in-ring action.That's all I care about & that's all that matters to me