I didn't smack my first two packs of Wyeast Activator packages properly, just pitched the yeast and nutrient in... No issue.
I've made sure to isolate the nutrient packs since then and hit them hard enough to break the nutrient pack, but not hard enough to break the main pack... I think you need to really smack HARD, and in the wrong place, to break the main pack.
I don't like White Labs yeast since there's no way to KNOW it's good yeast without making a starter (before you pitch it in)... For noobs, that could present more issues/questions.
I think the main issue has more to do with the people (or people new to using the Wyeast products) is they don't get any (or any good) advise from where they get it. Plus they don't bother to look on the Wyeast site to see how to activate the pack.
I plan to continue to use Wyeast strains since I'm familiar with them, and can easily find the info I want about the strains. Plus, the LHBS I visit stocks a great selection, and can get me any strain they don't have in a week, or less. Not to mention, most of what they stock is more than fresh enough to not give me any issues.
Just like for my mead, I'll continue to use Lalvin yeast strains.
I've had great results with both product lines... Using your brains, plus reading a bit, answers most yeast questions before you ask them...