I have played a warrior since the release of World of Warcraft. Much has changed since I first started in both the tanking and damage per seconds (dps) aspects for warriors and I hope to shine some light about the history of warriors here.
Warriors use to be the bread and butter class of WoW, they cemented their role in Player vs Environment (PvE) as the only “real” tanking class back when vanilla WoW was released. Raids such as Molten Core (MC), Blackwing Lair (BWL), Naxxaramus (Naxx) often required at least 3 warriors just to fulfill tanking roles for different encounters. In essence, the class has not changed much with the skills used to tank, however it must be stressed that Area of Effect tanking (AOE) back then was pretty much nonexistent with blizzard choosing fewer but harder hitting mobs over many mobs that would hit for less. Skills such as sunder armor, heroic strike, revenge and shield block (use to be on 20 second cool down) made the bulk of the tanking rotation, whereas Shield Wall and Last Stand remain more or less the same as they are today.
Although mainly in tanking roles, vanilla war DPS should also not be taken for granted. Back when arena did not exist Blizzard often did not balance classes as stringently and there was definitely misbalancing between different players with different gear levels. It was the age where very geared players were able to 1 shot players of the same level without any gear. Warriors enjoyed blizzards love with the blessing of multiple legendary weapons (when some other classes didn’t have any), items such as Hammer of Ragnaros and Thunderfury made anyone who wielded such weapons monsters of both the PvE and PvP charts. It should also be noted, that due to the lack of DPS meters it was often hard to gauge the relative efficacy of classes with many players interpreting “big numbers” as high DPS. Arms was the DPS spec as fury weapons were hard to come by (given to rogues first) and produced better numbers with 2hand skills such as mortal strike shining in both PvE and PvP situations.