Yes, it is more work to make these changes if you have only one thing that will fire an event. But if you have two button or menu events that need to be handled the same way, not so.I am migrating all my projects to the MVC standard.
The refs is good.
But creating the controller in architect is more work than just press the button and add the event on the component, architect is adding all the stuff you manualy has to add in the controller.
The pros of this is that if I rename the id of the component, the event will still work fine, but the controller will not.
In a bigger app it is easier to keep track of your code, and I think it's less work in the long run.
I had the same opinion as you initially. After putting together just 5 applications the fireEvent('newThingCommand, this) way, I won't go back to the 'handleMyButtonClick' way in the view or the controller. It's just easier for me to think through the whole app this way. Maybe all my time spent with rails has burned into me a need for conventions.
To each their own...