I read the first book, and it was the most horrible piece of shit that I have had the misfortune to read in years. The pacing was bad, the characters were forgettable, and the plot was meandering.
You were indeed missing something: specifically, the next six books, which are extremely good. I definitely felt the same as you did about book one, The Eye of the World. I hated the dream sequences, found the characters uninteresting, thought they argued too much, found the enemy somewhat lame, and so on.
But I was encouraged to keep reading by friends who loved the Wheel of Time, and who seemed like addicts trying to get me hooked on their drug of choice. So I read The Great Hunt (book two) and by the end I was an addict as well, and not out of mere habit, because the more Jordan builds his world in the early books, the better it gets, and the more you realize that he has a very thorough vision of how the world is put together. You start to trust that he knows the ending, knows every plot twist from now until the ending, and when it ends, it's going to be a bombshell. One of my favorite things to do after I got several books into the series was was to go back to read the prologue to Eye of the World, a sequence that made little sense when I first read it, but upon revisiting it, it fits right in. It reads like Jordan had already written the next seven books in his head when he started the first one.
Sadly, around book eight he becomes obsessed with forgettable minor characters, the interminable siege of Tar Valon, and other trivialities. When Jordan, amidst the most boring sequels ever, penned a prequel, I dropped out. So sad. It could have been wonderful if he'd stuck to the main story and ended it around book ten.
I am told by a few people who have more tenacity than me that the last Jordan book was a return to form, and the Sanderson sequels have been quite good.