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WWE NXT recap, reactions, video highlights (December 30, 2015): You also get...

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NXT presented the first of two "Best of 2015" (aka, "we didn't tape anything after London and we need a break") on WWE Network for their last show of the year. Corey Graves and Rich Brennan brought us 60 minutes of match highlights, interviews, recap packages and brand hype.

Though there wasn't a whole lot to recap or critique that we haven't picked apart in the past, it was a nice trip down memory lane and another angle from which to consider WWE's marketing of their in-house feeder system/competing promotion.

Here's some video highlights from NXT's Twitter along with thoughts from your truly...

EXTENDED OPEN! That's pretty cool, and I hadn't noticed prior how good the vocalist's James Hetfield impersonation is. Also allowed me to note which performers get their name displayed (Baron Corbin, Nia Jax, Finn Bálor, Dana Brooke, Samoa Joe), and who gets top - or at least last - billing (Asuka and Bayley).

This was technically 2014 stuff, but it set up the first few months of main event stories - and was one of several reminders from this show just how important Kevin Owens is to the history of NXT. If he doesn't sign and rekindle one of the indies' best feuds in WWE, do as many Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla fans buy the Network to watch? If he doesn't blow away WWE Universe fans with the John Cena program, do as many "mainstream" viewers check out NXT?

From there, it was time to look at NXT's first road shows. Hard to believe the trip to Pittsburgh and Ohio was just this past Spring, and that there was discussion about whether or not it would lead to more tours.

As a cynic, I've always rolled my eyes a bit when they do this "we are NXT" pep talk stuff. As a guy with a marketing degree, it's a really smart move that has obviously worked in a major way with their target audience.

Another smart marketing move was to have Graves & Brennan hawk the upcoming DVD. Why should you, the loyal Network viewer with a library of NXT matches at your fingertips, buy a disc? Because you might get to see the 20 - 30 minutes of this beauty from Columbus they didn't show us tonight...

Excuse me if I tear up like Charlotte, but, I miss Cesaro. Speaking of the water-y eyed Divas champion...

If it wasn't clear before, this hour emphasized that the two key elements of NXT's year were KO and these four women.

The future of the brand may depend on how successfully they integrate older stars into their formula.

Zack Ryder & Rhyno also got some love on the show. I personally remain perplexed about the James Storm acquisition, especially since zero effort has gone into putting him in an angle through his two appearances to date. Tonight's spotlight would seem to indicate there are plans for something more in '16.

The remainder of the show focused on Kevin Owens' transition to the main roster.

As I said above, this was huge for the expansion and acceptance of NXT. But it's also why fans get confused about whether or not the brand and things that happen there 'count' in main roster kayfabe. An issue that's exacerbated by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H being the only performers who play different versions of their characters depending on the promotion.

That was pretty much the show. It wasn't a bad way to spend an hour, but it certainly wasn't essential - especially if you've been following NXT all year like most of us. Expect next week to very Bálor-centric, since the man who's held the top title since early July was relegated to a couple of mentions this time around.

Not gonna grade it, because I've already evaluated most of it (Cageside's NXT grades for the year are in separate post you can read right here)...and because it's apples and oranges from the programs with new wrestling content we usually grade.

2015 was an amazing year for NXT, and this is nice way to celebrate it. I wouldn't blame you, however, if you tossed this episode aside like you were Corey and it was a Christmas gift Rich dug out of his car instead of doing his job.

Tell me what you thought, Cagesiders. You know, for auld lang syne.

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