The key to this is not the distribution, but the tools. Just stop using GUI tools, and tweak the CLI tools to look and behave exactly as you'd like. One way is to edit
~/.Xresources, and then load it with
~/.xinitrc. There, you could also start a bunch of applications that you always use.
Obviously you need a good shell: I'd say zsh. You'll have to work extensively on
~/.zshrc. (But bash would work too, of course. Then,
~/.bashrc would be the place.)
Second, an editor. Emacs or vim, depending on which you currently use. A less advanced editor (e.g., nano) won't do. As with the shell, you'd do a lot of work on
~/.emacs or the corresponding init file(s).
You need to incorporate as much as you possibly can in your text editor. I'll give some examples from the Emacs world, simply because I'm an Emacs user. For mail, rmail. For file management, dired. For web browsing, W3M. For news, gnus (although I don't use it). For man pages,
M-x man. And so on.
The reason you'd do this, and not use other CLI applications (e.g., just
man for man pages, lynx for browsing, etc.) is:
1) the level of integration (kill, yank, make shortcuts; everything in a blink...)
2) the keyboard shortcuts for navigating the cursor, searching, etc. (i.e., your muscle memory)
As for X, you don't need to abandon it. Just because you want everything in CLI doesn't mean you don't want GFX at all (or - at least, I want CLI-only, and GFX). For example, although you modify images with (CLI) mogrify or convert, you'd still want to display it to check the result (for example, in gliv; just disable the menu bar not to be tempted to use the mouse). Another example is LaTeX and PDF documents.
As for the terminal, most people would say screen or tmux but you could also use the Linux virtual terminals (the console, or ttys). In X, urxvt has a Perl extension that enables tabs. For those (the ttys and urxvt) you could set up a uniform interface, for example Alt-J/K to switch between tabs, so you don't have to reach for the arrow keys (or whatever is default).
Good luck :) Feel free to mail me some pointers of your own when you're done (or almost there... you're never done), as I'm on the same track as you.