I think a big question in all of this is what exactly is aikido waza? Is it supposed to be kata, or is it supposed to be randori?
If it is kata, doesn't it sort of nullify the way waza is used as a teaching vehicle? In a kata, nage should effect kuzushi way X, or guard opening Y that way, and uke should attack exactly way Z and end up getting thrown in way W. Everything is spelled out. If some step was not performed by the participants, then the correct kata was simply never shown, and the teacher needs to fix that.
If it is randori, and they are really both doing the same thing in the end, then what is left of any utility in the nage/uke distinction? They are both nage and can initiate in any way they please using aiki. Sure, at the start you need to limit options, but then why is the transition to what is actually labeled to randori so utterly non-existent in aikido and the actual randori so awkward, comical, and already breaking the surgical cleanliness of the way a lot of people regard waza practice?
Then there is the whole taboo about "no competition". If two people are attacking each other, then what would that be, eh? I don't think that particular proscription made any sense in the context of aikido practice.
It seems aikido is very much stuck in the middle, its practice is neither kata, nor is it randori, and it has much of the drawbacks of both and few of the benefits.
I guess the issue is how you define your Aikido. I am very forthright in stating that the waza practice IS KATA PRACTICE. In that context, the uke and nage have very specific roles that enable them to push each other to raise the level of the technique and attack.
Randori and jiyu waza to me, is bunkai kumite. In that context, the uke and nage have very specific roles that enable them to push each other to raise the level of the technique and attack.
There is a role for practicing realistic attacks and responses within safe confines. This is done for safety and longevity reasons. I make damn sure that a person who wants to go freestyle with me is capable of adequate control, can handle a decent strike, throw, etc., and can land safely.