Also, enh was forced to wear leather up to wotlk, because it was based on strenght as a mail wearer. And because spells and melee were seperated in terms of stats (things like mental quickness or merged crit, haste and hit did not exist), enh did more like a catch up to others, instead of a real advance.
Enh during all those years did nothing but catch up to others. Of course it would need a lot of changes for that. Sadly though, most of the changes we got are deliberately subpar new things like hex, CPT, wonky aoe and msw hard casting or destroyable utility cooldowns.
At best we get them to a decent status through glyphs and talents (so we're still at the stage to require those to bring us on par (or closer to that).
And all the nerfs we got... pretty much every stronger shaman utility was hit by the nerf-bat over the years: grounding, ghost wolf, purge, wind shear...
You talk about horrific amounts of changes, but fact is: we're still pretty much the only class (except monks I guess)that never got a big rework. Even young dks are ahead of us in that regard.
Big changes to mechanics?
Totems: nothing really. they still work exactly the same way they ever did. call of the xyz was just a degrading way to point out how worthless the individual totem was. now they actually mean something, as they are designed as cooldown utility, but didn't see the changes to make that a boon for us. Instead, it ensured that the totem utility we rely on more now than ever hurts us all the more when destroyed. A step back I'd call that. We can throw totems now, thank god that the only totem that REALLY benefits from that was created in the very same x-pack. And the worst stun in the history of stuns to boot. Totems are still the worst utility ingame and the best they ever did in regards to totems where to make some of them auras instead. They got even additionally nerfed to be not useable while silenced... horrific indeed
Wolves: I guess you mean Feral Spirits? Well, they removed bash for a start, and gimped their damage. To add to that, Spiritwalk does not grant freedom anymore. I guess it is good that we have it seperated from the wolves' heal, but overall it was almost as much a nerf as a buff. Plus we lost the ability to control them, though I guess it doesn't matter much who they attack, since they're only good for heal now anyway.
Elementals: Many changes? Like what? They still cant be active at the same time, do the same as they did all along unless you talent PE and still cannot be controlled (again, unless you talent PE). So here we're also still at talents doing what we needed baseline from the start. They also can be quickly killed by several combs, if the totem is targeted, and despawn when outranging the totem. For a high cooldown which can be countered, I'd like to at least have close to pet quality in terms of abilities and controlability. Frosties aren't a pet class either, but they got that. Same with dks. Shamans? Nope. And theirs were avaiable first.
AOE: We started without any at all. Of course there's gonna be improvement there. Allthough improvement is a rather loose term. There're classes who started out with better aoe mechanics in vanilla than what we have now (and it took blizz until 5.2 for that). Even now, our aoe is pretty pooped unless the scenario is custom-made for us, which is almost never.
Utility:Hex, CPT... indeed, utility at its finest. I admit that shamans are very good in terms of pve utility now, but in pvp it is mediocre at best. Totems got nerfed in more way than one and are as easily destroyable as ever (they've botched higher totem health how many times now?) lots of development indeed...
Defence:Not that many changes. What did ele have before it got SR and MoP talents? Easily interuptable healing, stompable totems, crappy hex, thunderstorm, that's about it. Enh and ele are still squishy when compared to other, comparable specs. Horrific indeed, for 9 year old specs.
Fact is: Ele and enh were good during wotlk and that was it. BL + LVB burst = caster cleaves and BL + Feral Spirits and Beastmaster => beastcleave. Next thing you know BL gets banned from arenas. Shaman dps' arena glory was pretty much riding on one spell, that's gotta tell you something.
Enh and Ele climbed from classic (not worthy to bring for raiding) to tbc (good supporters, crappy damage) to wotlk (more of a dps, still bottom of the barrel) to cata (enh started doing okay with firelands) to MoP. It took the devs 9 years to make enh a competitive pve dps spec (not that much an expert about cata/mop ele), with pvp still being pooped. Shamans since the beginning of wow were in a state of catching up, because we were designed in a way that was bound to fail at the point they decided to provide paladin/shaman for both sides and homogenisize buffs.
And you're going about horrific (in the sense of awesome/good) changes? Aye, I've paid lots of attention to shaman development since end-tbc, and what I noticed was:
-we (shamans in total) generally have less blue posts than other classes. wether it is during betas, during patches or as hotfixes, shamans see less blue (ironic, as te blue class). To add to that, much of it is resto related, since it is the most important generally seen, and because it is the first to see nerfs when to strong in pvp, affecting us as well
-we generally get homogenisized stuff from others only late (or never in terms of for example root-shifting), and only with a catch (I call it the shaman-rule). we do generously provide abilities for others though (interrupts were something not every melee had, at some point, the ability of selfhealing as well), not rarely, others even get things from us, but in a better package even (icy paths of dks, buffs during wotlk/cata).