Let's look at the Monday Night Wars. That was not so much won by WWE, as lost by WCW. Don't kid yourself into thinking Vince orchestrated the Attitude Era. The whole thing happened out of desperation for ratings. Vince was very lucky to get a few key things working for him at the same time - Russo was still around, Jim Ross was doing HUGE work behind the scenes as well as HUGE work selling guys on the mic and WWE were so desperate that they let the wrestlers exercise a greater degree of creativity.
The big difference between what happened in WCW and WWE is this - both companies were "taken over" for a time by wrestlers pretty much running the locker room and influencing creative. Difference being WWE was by that stage full of 'company men', who showed more loyalty to their employers - WCW was full of guys interested in how much TV time they could get and how big their paycheck were.
The luck came in when WWE struck gold in the form of Stone Cold, The Rock, Mankind and The Undertaker (and to a lesser degree HHH/DX). Let's face it, when most people bring up the AE, it's these guys they talk about almost exclusively. With these guys and their chemistry and the fact that they were more concerned with getting the company over than themselves (although they knew that in the long run, they'd also benefit of course), the WWE caught lightning in a bottle. But it was anything but planned out exactly like that.
The WWE today is so heavily scripted and controlled because Vince buys into the same thing that most people believe and that's that HE won the war, all on his lonesome. It's a total misconception. Back then, it was loosely scripted and more "let it ride and see what happens" (like the Stone Cold 3:16 promo). But it was desperation and not design.
I still have huge respect and regard for Vince but he is very out of touch these days. He's coasting on his rep.