Overall STiD had less emotional resonance than TWoK. Pike's demise was more comparable to Spock's death. Kirk's death was hollow because you already knew it was very likely that they were going to use a ham-fisted re-set button.
And the original didn't? Just because his (completely unbelievable) resurrection spanned two films doesn't make it better. You can't just throw out unjustified cliffhangers, and no one was going to believe that Kirk was really dead. At least they bring him back in an way explainable in modern medicine (yes, it really is)- Spock just reappears for the hell of it. Personally, I preferred this movie over TWOK, because I liked the story better.
Nimoy genuinely wanted to leave the franchise. The mind meld was by no means an indication of what they had planned and the scene at the end was simply teasing us with the possibility - it was not guaranteed that they intended to do anything with it.
Admittedly, titling the next movie The Search for Spock was a bit of a giveaway...
That's not the same as foreshadowing within the same movie by saying, let's inject this magic blood into a dead tribble I just happen to have rotting in the medical bay for no good reason. That just screamed out plot device to pretty much everyone.
But yeah, I accept other people may prefer this version. It just didn't work as well for me personally. Pike's death did work though because the character was cooland we knew he wasn't coming back.