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A simple rheostat won't work on an AC induction motor. If the voltage is reduced and the HZ stays the same, the current will go up. And up And up even more......to the point of burning something up, usually the motor.
If the voltage and HZ are reduced in proportion (so the Volts/HZ ratio stays close) it'll be just fine at the slower speed. A VFD has the ability to change both V and HZ, a rheostat does not.