Rap icon Missy Elliott ruled the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards in New Jersey on Monday night with a showstopping performance ahead of her Video Vanguard honour.

The Work It hitmaker ripped through a hits medley with a visually stunning display of dance and theatrics as the Prudential Center stage in Newark was transformed from a robot world to a military bootcamp to a cornfield and finally to an alien invasion. She also wowed fans by inviting Alyson Stoner, the young girl from her Work It video, join her on stage to show off her still-impressive dance moves.

The five-minute spectacular ended with Cardi B presenting Missy with the 2019 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, calling her performance "fire".

The Bodak Yellow star said, "I'm so excited to be here celebrating the living legend. Her album was the first one I ever bought and I finally got to meet her at a Grammys party right after Bodak Yellow came out. Nobody deserves to be in the Video Vanguard more than Missy. She changed the music video art form completely with her style, humour and unforgettable creativity...

"Everybody has copied from Missy Elliott - even me! I don't care... So what."

There were also video tributes from Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and Lil Kim, while Lizzo and Ciara fought back tears as they explained how much Missy meant to them.

Accepting her award, the woman of the night said, "I have worked diligently for over two decades and I never thought I would be standing up here receiving this award. It means so much to me."

She also name-dropped Janet Jackson, thanking her for "being such a great friend", Busta Rhymes, calling him "an inspiration to me", Peter Gabriel and Madonna. She ended her acceptance speech with a dedication to her late friend Aaliyah, stating, "I love you. We miss you!"

Taylor Swift opened the awards show with performances of You Need to Calm Down and Lover and there were also stand-outs from Normani, Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers, who opened their set at Astbury Park's fabled The Stone Pony club with Sucker before hitting the beach for a sunset gig.