Karrion Kross felt the pain immediately. It happened as Keith Lee hit him with a clothesline near the ropes. Kross' shoulder took the brunt of the 300-pound Lee's momentum.
"It felt like a choir of demons screaming inside my shoulder in unison," Kross told ESPN on Sunday.
Despite the pain, and without knowing just how severe the injury could be, Kross finished out the NXT TakeOver: XXX main event Saturday night and became the NXT champion.
The immediate prognosis following the event: a separated right shoulder. Kross said he will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
"I will get the professional, educated opinion on what the severity of it is," Kross said. "But it's definitely separated. I won't beat around the bush about that. As the saying goes, it's not ballet.
"I feel mixed emotions right now. The whole situation is very bittersweet. I think from a natural place, I'm always a very motivated individual. I'm a solution-based thinker, rather than a pity-based thinker."
Kross said he has already started researching ways he can begin rehabbing the shoulder, but the injury could be a major blow for the new champion as his momentum continues to grow in NXT. Kross is in the midst of a monster push, winning the title in just his seventh WWE match.
He said he does not believe he will be out for an extended period of time and joked that if anyone tries to take the title from him, it will lead to an "improv" match right then and there.
"From my point of view, no," Kross said when asked if he thinks he'll be out for a significant period time. "[Due to] how I feel and what I've heard, I don't know. I'm very intuitive with my body. And the range of emotion that I have right now, while it's not what I would like it to be, for me personally, it would indicate to me that I'm going to get be able to get through this without any sort of extreme measures, so to speak. In my opinion, today."
Fighting through that shoulder pain was Kross' way to "prove who I am," he said, acknowledging that in the professional wrestling business everyone is trying to tell -- and sell -- others on who they are. He said he believes this was his chance to show that everything he has been saying about himself was true.
"Whatever is going on with my shoulder is not as important to me as proving right now to every single person that I work with, every single person that's taken time or equity out of their careers to elevate me, that I'm worth a s---," Kross said. "And I'm gonna finish this strong, no matter how severe this is. This is the time where people see who you really are. Because nobody could do anything for you right now. You have to stand up on your own two feet and show your worth.
"There are times in life where something happens and now it's time to prove all of those things that you said. That was my calling [Saturday] night. That moment for me was [Saturday] night. It didn't happen at a time where it was convenient. It happened in literally the most important match of my career on probably the most important day of my life occupationally."