The classic game was well-known for WOW TBC Gold its ability to min-max years of knowledge about pservers and brilliant theorycrafters too, sims taught us that many of the "bis gearing options" were based on the length of the encounters with your guild were and on the specific times. Think trinket swaps, threat mit, fire/frost resistance, and so on. Furthermore, many garbage skips and encounters with naxx were enhanced by niche items like major recombobulator and smokey's lighter the bolt of Ramstein, and some small stopwatches that are nifty, a gnomish hiding device, and an electronic gigaflux activator.
These are some seriously uninformed rose-colored glasses. Every one of the niche products you've listed has its place. But, it's not the same with saying that having level 40 or more BoE gloves being BiS a conscious and wise design decision.
It's not a great item design to force every warrior into leather to cause competitive damage. It's even evident that Blizzard acknowledged that as well since they rethought that, going into AQ as well as Naxx.
This is the reason I dislike transmogs. If everyone has a similar fashion statement, it loses charm. It's a blast to walk through Tauren Druids in full mooncloth. It's funny, however, it's also a smart idea.
Standardizing stat allocations (partly because of better class design and understanding of what the characters would like) has reduced the capacity of stat design to create memorable items. Today, the most memorable items we talk about products that are memorable because of things that do not fall within the system of budgeting for stats: procs, abilities that can be used on the fly, the high-budget exceptions (War Glaives) as well as honorable mentions of weapon speed which still allows them to create things that are superior to others without being budgeted.
Half of the vanilla class did not have level gear because it was inadequately itemized or wasn't compatible with their specs (feral DPS warrior, druid and others). Tbc all tier gear in vanilla is at least acceptable, and sometimes even better. Overall I think there's more waiting for decent gear to be prepared.
In MC, for instance, there's about five upgrades available for the wild tank, and certain of them were highly desired (accuria and the agi-cloak off rag). Tier gear was useless other to a few items being relevant for a fire resist tank set. Other parts, like the massive dark iron buy WOW TBC Classic Gold ring and shoulders for fireguards, were eliminated. The set wasn't particularly exciting.