I agree.TBH it's a lot i'm thinking about an "only text" UI, but actionbars are really good - immediate information with a glimpse of an eye.
I think you could do something like "action bars made of text". For example consider powerline (a plugin for the vim text editor). Imagine if we made a font that had icons for major spells. Maybe one "box" glyph in the background, then one "skull" glyph on top of that, and finally a small pixel-font marker in under that with a 5-7 letter "name" -- something arranged to look sort of like a period table of elements…
Someting as simple as setting foreground and background color (I realize wow doesn't do background color on text) lets you create interesting displays
With a little effort I think you could make a really light-weight UI that looked good. Then again, wow's got a really crumby text renderer so it might be hard to get enough detail out of text to make it look good.