The key to great prints is printing skill (assuming the image is great to begin with). Frozen Lake and Cliffs is my favourite Ansel, and I often use it as an example in discussions about perfect chemicals/materials because that negative was pre-zone system, developed in partially exhausted D76, it is grainy, has very thin shadows, and blocked highlights.

This however does not mean discussions about various materials, their characteristics and properties are useless. Granted embarking on endless, aimless testing is often a waste of time, but I also don't think it is fair to go too far in the other direction turn a technical question into a philosophical discussion about how materials don't matter.

Brett Weston didn't care so nobody else should? Bullplop. And as a side note, personally I doubt in practice Brett Weston was quite as laissez-faire as he claimed to be. I don't believe that for a minute.

Randomly trying every developer is silly, but if a photographer first asks himself some basic questions about what he's trying to achieve, the answers to those questions can point in certain directions which might make things a little easier. After all the question wasn't whether D76 is better than HC110. Indeed the differences are small. But it is not quite as hair-splitting to talk about the differences between tanning/staining developers like Pyro and solvent developers like XTOL. Even the workflow is different, as I mentioned in a previous post here. But then people start with that business about how you can't tell what developer was used by looking at a print. That is irrelevant. Maybe if the two prints were side by side one could tell, and prefer one to the other. Maybe not in many cases, but it really depends. OP lists himself as "multi-format", so I would repeat that in the case of small or medium format negatives that are to be enlarged significantly, there are characteristics to consider - grain for example. Make 11x14 prints of a 35mm image from negatives developed in XTOL and PMK (or 510 or ABC etc). Significant difference, grain masking or not. There are also speed differences.

I agree blanket characterizations as "better" or "worse" are the wrong way to approach some of these things. But the differences are sometimes material enough to be relevant, and indeed some materials might actually be better or worse for a particular application (again, why the photographer needs to ask himself a few rational questions about format, enlargements, subject matter etc first).

Sorry if this comes off negative, but technical questions deserve answers, as long as the answers come from relevant experience, test data, and the rational working properties of photographic chemicals/materials.